2023 UCI Cycling World Championships: great ambitions for cycling and for sustainability

In the second of our series focusing on COP27 and the UN Sports for Climate Action, the Chief Executive of the 2023 UCI Cycling World Championships Trudy Lindblade explains how the event is shaping up to be a platform for climate action change.

The 2023 UCI Cycling World Championships will be the biggest cycling event the world has ever seen. An estimated 8,000 Elite and amateur cyclists from more than 120 countries will take part in 13 UCI World Championships being held in Glasgow and across Scotland between 3 and 13 August next year.

Trudy Lindblade answers some questions on the sustainability ambitions of this mega event.

How are plans coming along to deliver the 2023 UCI Cycling World Championships sustainably?

Trudy Lindblade: Well, the power of the bike has never been more important, and through the 2023 UCI Cycling World Championships, we aim to put on a show.

Over the past 18 months, we have developed a Sustainability Framework based on ten high-level commitments under the three event pillars of People, Place and Planet. This framework is a blueprint for measuring, disclosing, and being accountable to our stakeholders for sustainability performance. We are still establishing some of the finer details and specific targets with our event delivery partners, so the framework will be published in early 2023.

Delivering a major event against a backdrop of a global pandemic and a cost-of-living crisis adds more complexity to this process, but equally it provides greater opportunity to make a tangible impact. We have an incredible opportunity to demonstrate innovation and best practice to the entire global cycling community.

At a global level, we can also demonstrate how the Scottish Government has identified the bicycle as a key mechanism for rapid, transformational solutions in response to the climate emergency. In a challenging world, millions of people worldwide can be inspired by Scotland's commitment to draw on cycling's potential for contributing to sustainable development that benefits people, communities and the environment.

How did the 2023 UCI Cycling World Championships start its sustainability journey?

TL: In 2021, we formed a working group of experts from our partner agencies to provide input and help shape our framework commitments. At the same time, we also assembled an internal working group to provide operational insight, ideas and champion the approach within our organisation.

Last year, during COP26 in Glasgow, we signed the UN Sports for Climate Action Framework to learn from and be inspired by the UCI and other signatories. It's important for us not to try and "reinvent the wheel" but to build on what other organisations have done to inform our approach.

What are some of the challenges for a mega event like this?

TL: This is the first time a combined UCI Cycling World Championships is being held so we don't have baseline data to compare ourselves to. We are committed to measuring the event's carbon footprint with our partners' help and providing transparency on the event's environmental impacts. Reporting on our emissions and the impact of sustainability interventionswill offer insights to the next combined UCI Cycling World Championships in Haute-Savoie, France, and benchmarking future mega events in the UK.

Actively supporting our event delivery partners and suppliers to adopt best practice, and provide data for calculating the event's carbon footprint, will be crucial to achieving our sustainability goals. Enhancing climate change awareness, sustainability skills and building capacity with our event delivery partners will be another tangible legacy for how events are delivered in the future.

Can you tell us more about the event's Sustainable Procurement Code?

TL: We know that significant impacts on the environment, people, communities, and businesses will depend on how goods and services are procured for the event.

With funding support from the Interreg ProCirc programme, we could engage experts to help us create a Sustainable Procurement Code. This code provides a link across our event delivery model for raising awareness of the minimum standards expected to support our sustainability, EDI (equity, diversity and inclusion), and low-carbon ambitions.

Providing opportunities for local businesses to participate in the event reduces transportation emissions and helps ensure funding stays in Scotland as part of a green recovery.

Monitoring how the code has been applied will help us capture the challenges for circular procurement and identify good practice to benefit future events, suppliers and communities in Scotland and further afield.

What can people expect to see in terms of sustainability during the UCI Cycling World Championships next year?

TL: We will aim to reduce our emissions across all the event's major impact areas – transport, energy, venues, waste, food and beverage. As a short-lived event, it is vitally important we do everything we can to support the Race to Zero and supercharge Scotland's 2045 net-zero target, right down to the Santini rainbow jerseys made from recycled plastics and materials.

Changing how we move people and goods during the event will reduce the event's carbon footprint.Making active travel the best option for spectators and using e-cargo bikes can curb air pollution for the benefit of people and the environment.

Glasgow's status as a UCI Bike City brings an additional dimension to its existing major event credentials.The eyes of the world will be on Glasgow and across Scotland for 11 days from August 3 to 13 next year. The bicycle has a significant role in generating long-lasting behavioural change that will contribute to Scotland and countries worldwide being healthier, wealthier and greener.