EUROPEAN EQUESTRIAN FEDERATION Hosts First Sustainability Webinar

11 May 2023, Last week the EEF held the first edition of the Making Strides in Sustainability webinar series. The online events are designed for the EEF National Federation members and wider equestrian stakeholders to bring the issues of sustainability into focus.

The first event brought together speakers and national federation panellists to discuss the current status and requirements to build a strategy and create tangible actions. In welcoming the attendees, EEF President Theo Ploegmakers had a clear message; “Europe is in the spotlight, and we have to be prepared to show that we are doing everything necessary to be a sustainable sector, as sustainability is not something for the sport alone, but it will affect all of us. The sport, breeding, leisure riding, riding schools and so on. All stakeholders from the equine sector have to take their responsibility”

Sustainability strategy expert Amanda Curtis started with an overview of the current climate issues and the Paris Agreement targets, including limiting temperature rises to 1.5°, alongside some of the existing strategies that sports are adopting.

Jim Eyre (British Equestrian) and Denis Duggan (Horse Sport Ireland) joined a panel with Ruth Dancer, director of sustainability consultancy White Griffin. The two federations are currently undertaking research into their stakeholders and the current status to develop recommendations and build an environmental policy. Denis spoke on the approach to climate issues; “It’s not about just the five biggest shows in Europe making phenomenal steps and nobody else doing anything else, it will be by everybody doing what they can, whatever that is”

The clear learning from both federations is to start the work now, “although it feels we’ve started early, we actually haven’t started early enough” Jim said, with the process to research and create recommendations for a strategy taking many months to construct.

The discussions touched on several key topics including the role of sustainability in developing a social licence, to which Jim commented: “The welfare of the horse has to come first as a priority, but I think this environmental, sustainability piece is another pillar in the social licence, and we need to get this right to demonstrate holistic care of the environment as well as the animal”. This was echoed by Denis who added “it is all part of the holistic approach” with reference to “the social dimension, the environmental dimension, and also the economic dimension” with which we must look to achieve balance.

Rounding out the discussion, Ruth Dancer gave a clear message, “collaboration and cooperation between one another is key, there is plenty of information out there, what we need now is to find out who knows what, who’s already done what, and learn from one another”.

The video replay and slides from the presentation are available to view on our website:
Founded in 2009, the European Equestrian Federation (EEF) is the representative body for the European based National equestrian Federations. Working closely with the Federation Internationale Equestre (FEI) and the National Federations, the EEF works to maximize the potential and development of equestrianism throughout the continent. The EEF is committed to promoting the sport of equestrianism and its good practices, developing the sport across Europe, and providing leadership for a collective European voice in the sport.