Alongside the thrill and excitement of Olympic qualifying and world championship racing, this week's ICF canoe slalom and wildwater world championships in La Seu, Spain, will also send out a powerful message about how the sport can be more environmentally sustainable.
The ICF and the host organisers of the world championships will be running a pilot event, showcasing how a massive event like an Olympic qualifier can reduce its environmental footprint. It will be the third pilot event, following on from similar projects in Augsburg, Germany, in 2018, and Pitesti, Romania, earlier this year.
The ICF is working on guidelines it will set for all event hosts at future canoe events. In an average calendar year the ICF hosts at least 15 major events across all its disciplines, and is determined to continue its role as a world leader in presenting environmentally sustainable sporting events.
"To make these pilot events work, we need to involve organisers, athletes, volunteers and spectators to ensure the message is being delivered," ICF sustainability manager, Catherine Wieser, said.
"Our projects in Augsburg and Pitesti were very successful. This week is by far the biggest event where we will conduct a pilot program, so it is very exciting for the sport.
"We can already say the project has been a success, based on the enthusiasm and the exciting initiatives of the local organisers. Their commitment to preserving the pristine paddling environment, and their vision for the future, is an inspiration to all of us."
Surveys will be conducted throughout the event to ascertain how those involved in the sport believe canoeing can do more to help the environment. Local waste management company, MEU, will conduct a contest during the world championships to reward the team which shows exceptional commitment to protecting the environment.
An environmental sustainability toolkit will be developed by the ICF later this year, based on the results of the three pilot events. The toolkit will be distributed to all national federations, and will be part of future seminars outlining the responsibilities of host organising committees.