Communicating sustainability in green winter sport events : the FIS Nordic World Ski Championships Falun 2015

University essay from SLU/Dept. of Urban and Rural Development

Abstract: Nowadays, organizations and companies follow the worldwide trend of using corporate social responsibility (CSR) strategies in their communication. They invest in green solutions to take part in the sustainable development towards a better world. Communicating sustainability in winter sport events has been discussed in scholarly literature before, such as the dream or reality of sustainable sport events (Furrer 2002). The problem formulated in this thesis concerns the critical discussion about the construction of sustainability, the use of CSR practices by event organizations and how they communicate about sustainability. It can be asked if such event hosts and organizations that invest in sustainable solutions do this because of their image and reputation as a sustainable event (sustainability branding) or because they want to achieve an environmental change? My approach to answer this question is based on a case study. Hereby, the FIS Nordic World Ski Championships (NWSC) in Falun 2015 is the main object of observation. As part of the volunteer team in the communication department of the organization, I was using the methods "participant observation" and "qualitative in-depth interviews" to gather the research data. In total eight interviews have been conducted with volunteers and organizers of the communication and sustainability team of Falun2015. These interviews were used for the analysis, supported by theories about "social constructionism", "sustainability and sustainable development", "CSR" and "organizational communication". The interpretation of the data showed that the organization Falun2015 communicates about sustainability because of their own reputation and image (sustainability branding) but also to achieve environmental change by focusing on involvement and dialogue. Further, the analysis of the interviews showed that important elements for communicating sustainability goals are "knowledge", "dialogue", "credibility and trust" and "involvement". The implications of these results are that other FIS event organizers can learn from the communication practices of Falun2015 that were aimed to be the most sustainable and environmentally friendly NWSC ever arranged. Even though I have not tested the outcome of this aim, such as the amount of CO2-emissions, other companies and organizations may well be inspired by the communication strategy of Falun2015 and its investment in sustainable development. By communicating sustainability matters to the public and making people aware of the environment, organizations such as Falun2015 can make a first step towards a more sustainable world.

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