The goal of the World Championship 2027 is not just climate neutrality for the championship, but lasting impacts for an entire sport.
The leader of the Narvik bid, Erik Plener, is happy to start with an acknowledgment.
– Alpine sports is one of the bad boys in sports when it comes to sustainability. We use a lot of natures resources. It takes a lot of energy to prepare trails, and a snow plough uses 30 liters of diesel per hour. Alpine sports as a whole have a long way to go to deliver on sustainability, he says.
Therefore, it is not a climate-neutral championship that will be Narvik’s most important contribution. The organizers are thinking far bigger than that.
– In short, we sincerely believe that it should be possible to create a climate-positive championship – And deliver this without buying climate quotas. But the key aspect that will really pay off is the development of lasting solutions that can be copied by ski resorts and championship organizers all over the world, says Plener.
He recently signed a four-year agreement with the University of Tromsø. The world’s northernmost university actually has its technology faculty located in Narvik. The agreement with UiT means that the WC will be a living laboratory for green World Cup projects.
The agreement will also contribute to the event being unique for the sport in relation to experiences for both participants and the audience. It will contribute to increased value creation among the business community in the north, via close collaboration with the host municipality Narvik, the Norwegian Ski Association and other stakeholders and competence environments.
– We are now in a phase where we are looking for exciting projects. We already have ten projects we are considering, but the goal must always be to find solutions in the short term for Narvik – which in the long term benefits the entire alpine sport, he says.
Professor Anne Husebekk, Rector of the School of Management at UiT, believes that the agreement will also mean significant value creation locally.
– This collaboration is something that will be interesting also for our international partners. And then, of course, local and northern Norwegian businesses will be able to reap the benefits of this, says Husebekk.
Good starting point
In Narvik the starting point is better than in most places. The hill itself is really just an extension of the port city of Narvik. The area is one of the major producers of renewable energy, with both wind and hydropower plants that ensure a large surplus of green power.
– Since we arranged the National Championship in 2017 and through the junior World Cup in 2019, we have had a strong focus on making the local footprint as gentle as possible, says Plener – Through a collaboration with the waste company Hålogaland Ressursselskap and the electricity suppliers in Polar Kraft, among other things.
During the World Cup, one of the solutions is to house spectators and visitors in cruise ships.
– Here, work is being done to put in place onshore power supply. Of course, there will also be requirements for the boats – so that they are «state of the art» when it comes to sustainability . But this solution makes us flexible in terms of accommodation capacity, without us having to build more permanent accommodation options, says Plener.
With him on the team, the World Cup organization has also got Mikael af Ekenstam. He has a master’s degree in environmental science, is an author of several skiing guides in the local area and is employed on a daily basis as a senior advisor in Smart Innovation Norway. The Narvik-residing Swede is responsible for making the World Cup as sustainable as possible.
– Our realistic goal is for the championship to be climate neutral. We work for zero-emission solutions on climate impact, permanent solutions only where there is after-use, temporary solutions with a low environmental footprint, preparation of the trails and plant development primarily based on zero-emission solutions, says Ekenstam, who believes in many long lasting effects locally.
– With a World Cup, we can speed up a number of local projects. A new city tunnel and environmental street in the city center, onshore power supply in Narvik harbor, a new city lift and new energy solutions for cities and regional buses are among the heritage we want to leave in Narvik, he says.