Flanders takes important steps towards sustainable UCI Road World Championships

Friday 02 July 2021

With the 2021 UCI Road World Championships in September in Flanders, we will be celebrating the 100th anniversary of the UCI Road World Championships. The event might already be a century old, but this edition also looks to the future: to the next years and generations. Flanders will host the most sustainable UCI World Championships ever and set the bar for future events.

Sustainability has been one of the key values of these UCI World Road World Championships from the very beginning of the organisation phase. The event wants to leave a lasting impression on visitors and TV viewers, but also wants to leave as small an imprint as possible. For Flanders, the centenary of the UCI Road World Championships equals the start of a new era in the field of organising big events.

"Flanders has high ambitions to significantly reduce its CO2 emissions in the coming years and is already leading the European pack in terms of recycling and reusing used goods", says Flemish Minister of Tourism and Environment Zuhal Demir. “Thanks to EventFlanders, we can now play this pioneering role on a global scale by also organising international top events in Flanders in a sustainable way. Paris is still far away, but with an ambassador like the UCI Road World Championships who is committed to reducing the waste mountain and the emission of greenhouse gases and who also convinces every fan at the side of the road to take action, we are already much closer", says Minister Demir.

With Deloitte as a sustainability partner, the organisation is taking a new approach and thus an important step towards more sustainable cycling events in the future. The expertise that exists within Deloitte in this area, makes them the suitable partner to advise the organisation, to assist in the development of the plans and to investigate the impact.

"As a cycling fan, I am delighted that the 2021 UCI Road World Championships are returning to Belgium this year to celebrate their 100th anniversary in the cradle of cycling. Deloitte is also happy to contribute to making this cycling festival a more sustainable event and to support the UCI and the organising committee Flanders 2021 in their sustainability ambitions within the 2021 UCI Road World Championships project," says Piet Vandendriessche, CEO of Deloitte Belgium.

The ambition of the World Championships organisers and Flanders seamlessly connects to UCI’s recently launched sustainability strategy with which it wants to make cycling one of the most sustainable sports in the world.

UCI President David Lappartient said: “As the world governing body for cycling, the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) is committed to embedding sustainability into our organisation and supporting National Federations, event organisers, teams, partners, and riders to do the same. Following the recent adoption of our new Sustainability Guidelines and Targets, we are thrilled to see the Flanders LOC publish their own ambitious and very comprehensive plan for the upcoming 2021 UCI Road World Championships. This will not only be the 100th anniversary celebration of the UCI Road World Championships, but also a milestone with regard to a more sustainable future for the sport.”

Sustainability plan with 14 themes and 60 activations

For the 2021 UCI Road World Championships, the local organising committee, Flanders, OVAM, the host cities and Deloitte jointly developed a sustainability plan with 14 themes and 60 activations, based on the sustainable development goals* of the United Nations, two of which are central to these UCI World Championships: waste and CO2.

Maximum reduction of waste

Wherever many people gather and consume food or drinks, a lot of waste is left behind. These UCI World Championships want to reduce the quantity of that waste to a maximum and recycle the remaining waste as efficiently as possible.

An awareness campaign prior to the 2021 UCI Road World Championships - that will be communicated through the event’s various channels, upon arrival in stations and cities and at the fan zones -, will make the visitors aware of this minimal waste approach. Only reusable cups will be used at catering stands in the various fan zones, gadgets and flyers will be kept to an absolute minimum, which means there will be no publicity convoy before the races.

Hundreds of green teams in the host cities and along the route (e.g. on the climbs and other places where large concentrations of public are expected) will ensure that any waste that remains is cleaned up quickly. There will be recycling and selective collection of residual waste and PMD. Food surpluses will be reallocated locally (in cooperation with social projects or services in the host cities).

Not only the fans contribute, the riders will do the same. As for all road races on the UCI Road International Calendar, the UCI Regulations oblige them to use the compulsory "litter zones" on the circuit for their waste (drink bottles, bar wrappers and others). The only exception is to give bottles to spectators in climbs situated within the final 50 kilometres, if this is done without creating danger to the riders or public.

Limit and calculate CO2 impact

Sustainability partner Deloitte will calculate the CO2 impact of the event for the first time in the history of the UCI Road World Championships. This will provide a benchmark for future events. The organisation will also proactively try to limit its CO2 footprint through various action points in the sustainability plan: from reducing diesel generators, through the use of a number of electric and hybrid cars, to encouraging fans and visitors to travel on foot, by bike or by public transport. A climate fund will be set up in cooperation with Natuurpunt, supporting the 'Forest for All' project.

The local organising committee will also invest in four local, sustainable projects (one project in each host city) that will be on display during the 2021 UCI Road World Championships.

Sustainability report by Deloitte after the UCI Road World Championships

After the UCI Road World Championships in Flanders, as part of its legacy, Deloitte will also develop a sustainability report that will show the impact of the sustainability plan. The impact of the various activations will be measured against pre-defined targets. The report, together with the calculation of CO2 emissions, will create a sustainability framework for future sport events.