“Sustainability is a marathon, not a sprint”
An interview with Nico Briskorn, Director of CSR at VfL Wolfsburg
Sustainability's importance in football clubs has grown significantly over the last decade. Nico Briskorn, the Director of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) at VfL Wolfsburg, sat down with ESSMA to share insights about their sustainability journey and how they've become a role model for other football clubs. In the interview (full version available on our ESSMA knowledge platform) Mr. Briskorn highlights the club's pioneering efforts in sustainability, including their first sustainability report in 2012, which was a first in the football world. This topic will also be discussed in detail at our ESSMA Summit 2024.
Inspirations for Sustainability Initiatives
Mr. Briskorn explains that VfL Wolfsburg looked to various industries for inspiration when beginning their sustainability journey. They actively participated in sustainability networks and commissions to gain insights. Wolfsburg's commitment to sustainability also comes from its strong ties to the Volkswagen Group.
Quick Wins and Future Initiatives
In the early stages, the focus was on getting quick wins and enhancing the club's image. As quick wins, they secured sponsorships and worked on innovative projects with partners. Looking ahead, Wolfsburg is focusing on innovation and sustainability through a startup program and various eco-friendly initiatives.
Setting Ambitious Goals
In 2012, Wolfsburg set ambitious sustainability goals, including reducing carbon emissions by 25% from 2012 to 2018, which they surpassed with a 32% reduction. Their current target is a Net Zero Goal for 2025, focusing on reducing emissions by 6.45% annually.
Sustainability in Mobility
Sustainable fan-mobility is a significant focus for Wolfsburg, making up 60% of their carbon footprint. They encourage fans to choose eco-friendly travel options through a dedicated app, offering incentives for sustainable commuting.
Sustainability in Catering
Wolfsburg has partnered with local businesses for catering services, emphasising regional partnerships and introducing vegetarian options to diversify the menu. They are also working on a CO2 transparency initiative with their caterer.
Sustainability in the Supply Chain
Wolfsburg ensures that partners within their supply chain meet sustainability standards. Volkswagen plays a crucial role in this aspect, as they have an "S" rating that serves as a sustainability rating for partners.
Energy Efficiency Initiatives
Energy management at Wolfsburg involves structural measures, energy management software, and enhanced monitoring. They also provide environmental training to employees and communicate their success stories internally.
Waste Management and Circular Economy
Wolfsburg focuses on waste management, introducing upcycling collections in merchandise offerings. They have also organised cleanup action days and recently developed a comprehensive waste management concept.
Fan Engagement and Education
Mr. Briskorn highlights the importance of transparency and authenticity in building a strong foundation for sustainability. He also encourages clubs to involve their partners in the sustainability journey and engage in educational campaigns.
Guidance for Smaller Clubs Smaller clubs beginning their sustainability journey should identify their strengths, focus on experienced areas, and obtain buy-in from the CEO. Setting up a dedicated sustainability position and conducting stakeholder analyses are essential steps.
Want to learn more about sustainability in football clubs? Read the full interview with Nico Briskorn on our ESSMA Knowledge Platform >