"We must take advantage of the most popular sport on the planet to help save it"

"We must have ambition, we cannot wait to make the change later", said Diego Álvarez, director of the facilities area of the sports activities service of the University of Zaragoza (UNIZAR) and member of the Zaragoza Deporte Sostenbile project, during the fourth and last panel discussion organized by the Master in Sports Management of the UPF Barcelona School of Management as part of the conference "Sport, sustainability and climate emergency".

In this regard, Álvarez acknowledged to the moderator of the event, Oriol Montanyà, director of the Sustainability Observatory and the Department of Operations, Technology and Science of the UPF-BSM that humans "are lazy in the face of change". To reverse this trend, Álvarez presented the Zaragoza Sustainable Sport (ZDS) project, a pioneering initiative in sustainability and sport.

ZDS aims to make the Aragonese capital a national and international benchmark in the sector and, for the time being, it is doing so with a website that includes all the activities related to sport and sustainability in Zaragoza."Our goal is to bring together as many entities as possible to work together," explained Álvarez, who, beyond specific initiatives, highlighted the power of education. "It is an essential pillar", considered the representative of UNIZAR, who recalled that both the University and the initiative "in addition to disseminating, above all, we like to educate".

Captura webinar
De izq. a der.: Ramon Alarcón, del Real Betis Balompié; Diego Álvarez, de Zaragoza Deporte Sostenible; Oriol Montanyà, dir. del Observatorio de Sostenibilidad

Is sustainability expensive? 

When asked by the moderator about the cost of sustainability, Álvarez confirmed that "far from being an increase in expenditure, it is a saving". Ramon Alarcón, General Business Director of Real Betis Balompié, partially agreed. "Sustainability can be expensive, since initial investments have to be made," he said, but added: "However, sustainability is a great medium- and long-term value bet.

"About 87% of the Generation Z is concerned about the future of the planet," said Alarcón. In this sense, the Real Betis Balompié representative shared the Forever Green project, a platform open to companies that want to show the world "what they are doing today to save the future of the planet". Continuing with the club's corporate color, Alarcón stated that "if we are the green club, we have to show it".

The initiative, he said, offers, among other actions, ecological mobility alternatives to supporters in order to "have the greenest fans in the world" and encourages the use of public transport, bicycles and electric cars and motorcycles. The club is also committed to reducing paper by enabling access to the stadium through QR codes or, for example, the use of LED lights and solar panels on the field. In the words of Alarcón, "we must take advantage of the most popular sport on the planet to help save it".