Major horse show adopts “think green” message to lead sustainability efforts

"Instead of just looking for where we can do it 'less bad' environmentally, we look for where we can do 'more good', says Herning2022 organiser Jens Trabjerg.
“Instead of just looking for where we can do it ‘less bad’ environmentally, we look for where we can do ‘more good’, says Herning2022 organiser Jens Trabjerg. © Herning2022

Organisers of the upcoming FEI World Championships in Herning, Denmark, are aiming to turn “the approach to sustainability upside down” as far as horse sport events go.

Herning2022 will host championships in jumping, dressage, para-dressage and vaulting, and the ambition for a more sustainable approach to such a large-scale event helped the city to secure the hosting rights.

It is estimated that the event will emit around 4000 tons of CO2, not including transport from participants and guests, and by choosing green solutions whenever possible and buying offsetting credits, the event will be CO2-neutral. In addition, 20 hectares of forest are planted in collaboration with Herning Municipality: VM-Skoven, which during this century will bind about 12,000 tons of CO2.

Organising committee member Jens Trabjerg described the event’s sustainable profile as a “towering level of ambition”, and the team wanted to create lasting, positive impacts. The team had decades of experience in equestrian sports and in running championships, but it was a new challenge for them to “think green”.

“We have simply turned it upside down in relation to how most people approach the work with sustainability. Instead of just looking for where we can do it ‘less bad’ environmentally, we look for where we can do ‘more good’.

“We have made a calculation for the amount of CO2 that the World Championships will emit, so we had a starting point. Our approach is that we seek to make positive contributions wherever we can. Hopefully, we can help inspire participants, the audience and the press and get people to take greater responsibility for our planet,” he said.

With some 200,000 spectators, 1100 media people, and an estimated 200 million television viewers expected, organisers hope the event’s green focus will inspire and encourage new habits.

Jens Trabjerg, one of the organisers of Herning2022.
Jens Trabjerg. © Herning2022

Among the initiatives are sustainable merchandise and clothes for volunteers, and the judges will preside over the competitions in judges’ towers made of recycled wood in collaboration with local production schools and are guaranteed an after-life locally. Denmark will be promoted as a green nation on Solution Square, an area dedicated to Danish environmental technology and circular initiatives.

“And after the world championships, the VM-Skoven forest will be a green and lasting legacy for Herning2022. It’s a green way to say thank you, and our goal is to move people and make the world better after Herning2022,” Trabjerg says.

The event has assistance from Sport Event Denmark, an organisation with a focus on “green development”. It is involved when large, international championships are held in the country.

Director Lars Lundov said Herning2022 would be used “as an example for inspiration for other event organisers”, and show how Denmark can take the lead and host international sporting events and at the same time push for green development.

Herning2022 is also working with Jasper Steinhausen, the founder of the Danish sustainability organisation Business with Impact.

Steinhausen said the event was being run under three overarching principles: seeking positive ripple effects, thinking circular, and engaging all suppliers in sustainability.

“We focus on how we can create lasting positive impacts even though an event like this is temporary by nature. We will use Herning2022 to engage our participants, guests, and the community around us to make better choices, so that together we make the world better in the future. Specifically, we have, for example, collaborated with MCH Exhibition Herning on waste management and sorting as well as catering, which future events will benefit from.

“We will buy recycled solutions whenever possible and make sure that products and materials are re-used after the event. We will rent or borrow instead of buying new,” Steinhausen said. Base materials will be rented or purpose built, with the new items going to new homes at local riding facilities.

But he acknowledges that there will be areas where Herning2022 will be challenged.

“It may be due to unavoidable requirements for equestrian competitions at this level, what is available, qualities, finances and what is doable in time before the World Championships kick off in August. But we will, as much as possible, go for a solution that considers the environment, quality, deliveries, and the overall economy.”

» The FEI World Championships Herning – Denmark 2022 is from August 6 to 14.

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