Tribute to David Stern

A week after the passing of the iconic NBA commissioner, Allen Hershkowitz remembers his leadership, foresight and empathy when the pair worked to establish the league’s pioneering sustainability initiative.

In 2007, my colleagues and I at the Natural Resources Defense Council began collaborating with NBA  commissioner David Stern and members of his staff. Our goal was to create an NBA environmental initiative, which resulted in our creation of ‘NBAGreen’, the league’s successful sustainability programme. David Stern was one of the first sports commissioners to speak publicly about the need for climate action.

I watched Commissioner Stern inspire and mentor an extraordinarily diverse and talented group of NBA colleagues, encouraging them all to pay attention to the environmental challenges we face. Through his support for NBAGreen and the senior leadership he assigned to lead it, David Stern helped create one of the most influential environmental projects in the world. Not just in sports: in business, and in culture as well.

David Stern was a tireless champion for environmental health and justice. He believed in sound science, and was a transformative cultural innovator, two traits that led him to leverage the influential cultural and market platform of the NBA to promote environmental literacy.

A practical idealist, David’s top eco-concern was climate change. He allocated funds a decade ago to set up a system to calculate energy use and greenhouse gases at all NBA venues and events, and he supported fan education through animation, TV,  as well as social and traditional media. 

Eco-ads about energy use aired on NBATV thanks to David and he encouraged all NBA teams, venues, sponsors and fans to recycle, compost, use eco-intelligent transportation and to think about shifting to renewable energy. David also supported the greening of the NBA’s premier events, including the All-Star Game, Draft, Playoffs and Finals.

David’s view of sustainability was broad, going beyond just the environment. Words can only belittle how committed David was to inclusive racial and gender diversity and equality – qualities that are now deeply embedded in NBA culture. He saw the need to authentically respect the evolving cultural empowerment of athletes and shifting demographics among fans. As a result, the entire NBA ecosystem is more racially and gender diverse than most leagues.

After he died, Kathy Behrens, NBA president for social responsibility and player programs, told me: “David always made things better.” I saw that, and I saw as well that he always wanted to help. I learned much from his natural style of servant leadership.

David Stern left a visionary legacy committed to service, to humanitarian purpose. His intelligent life was marked by probity, fairness, generosity, and success by playing by the rules. He was a blessing to many, and the NBA’s growing global commitment to sustainability will forever benefit from his vision of a green and peaceful planet. I wish he had lived longer. He had so much to offer, so much good. I join thousands who send condolences to Dianne and family.

Allen Hershkowitz is the co-founder and former president of the Green Sports Alliance, the environmental science advisor to the New York Yankees, and chairman and founding director of Sport and Sustainability International


Sport and climate change at New York Climate Week…

September 9, 2019

SandSI will be actively participating in conversations about sport and climate change at the Climate Week 2019 that will take place from 23 to 29 September in New York. The Climate Week convenes on the side of the opening of the UN General Assembly, seeking to drive climate action forward. Representatives from businesses, governments, academic institutions, arts and music, and NGOs will gather for a variety of panel discussions, concerts, exhibitions and seminars.

Women, climate and sports

On 25 September, SandSi partners with the Sheen Center for a panel discussion on Women, Climate and Sport. 

The United Nations Framework on Climate Change promotes a “gender-responsive climate policy” urging representation of women in all decision-making related to climate policies. SandSI President Julia Pallé will participate in a discussion of how women can promote climate action throughout the world by using the powerful platform of sports. 

Other panelist are Kathy Behrens, President, Social Responsibility and Player Programs, NBA; Lauren Tracy, Senior Director for Strategic Initiatives and Sustainability at the USTA, Ama Ruth Francis, Climate Law Fellow at the Sabin Center for Climate Change Law at Columbia Law School. 

The panel will be moderated by SandSI Founding Director Dr. Allen Hershkowitz.

Registration (free) through the website of the New York’s Sheen Center for Thought & Culture is required to attend this event (Wed 25 Sep, 4:00pm – 5:30pm EST).

Playing on thin ice – Climate change and winter sports

SandSI Founding Director and CEO Geert Hendriks will introduce a panel discussion on winter sports and climate change which will bring together climate-minded winter sports professionals Omar Mitchell (NHL),  Sergey Rybakov (UNFCCC’s #TheLastGame) and Winston Binch (Protect Our Winters & Gale Partners). GreenSportsBlog’s Lew Blaustein will moderate the panel discussion.

Register here to attend this event (Wed 25 Sep, 8:30 am – 10:30 am EST).

If you would like to meet with a SandSI representative during the Climate Week or have a question about either of the events, please send an email to


SandSI calls European football clubs to take climate action

May 30, 2019

The Sustainability Report, Sport and Sustainability International (SandSI) and Positive Impact Events ask the European Club Association to discuss the UNFCCC Sport for Climate Action Framework with members.

The Sustainability Report has teamed up with prominent actors in the sport and sustainability movement to call for the biggest clubs in European football to take climate action.

Ahead of this weekend’s UEFA Champions League Final, Sport and Sustainability International (SandSI), Positive Impact Events and this publication have written a letter to European Club Association chairman Andrea Agnelli asking the organisation to discuss the UNFCCC’s Sports for Climate Action Framework with its members at its next General Assembly.

The independent body represents some of the most successful and popular football clubs on the continent, including Bayern Munich, Juventus and Manchester City.

Unveiled last year at COP24 in Poland, the Sports for Climate Action Framework asks sports entities to measure, reduce and offset their carbon emissions.

UEFA, organiser of the premier club competitions in Europe including the Champions League and Europa League, was one of the first bodies to adopt the framework. FIFA, the International Olympic Committee, the National Basketball Association and New York Yankees are other high profile signatories. 

Sports organisations that adopt the framework are committing to five steps: undertake systematic efforts to promote greater environmental responsibility; reduce overall climate impact; educate for climate action; promote sustainable and responsible consumption, and; advocate for climate action through communication.

Real Betis, of Spain’s Primera División, and Forest Green Rovers, playing the English football’s League Two, have also pledged climate neutrality.

While professional football’s carbon footprint can’t be compared to industries such as manufacturing or aviation, for example, signatories to the letter have said that business as usual from all industries “won’t help us stay within the 1.5°c global target needed to avoid climate catastrophe.” 

According to the World Land Trust, the environmental conservation charity that has Sir David Attenborough as a patron, this Saturday’s Champions League Final alone will will generate around 8,693 tonnes of carbon emissions – enough CO² to fill 120,181,248 footballs – as both teams and fans (Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur) will travel to the final in Madrid from the UK.  

Geert Hendriks, the chief executive of SandSI, said that football was “the most common language in the world” and that the European Club Association was “in a unique position to show its leadership” to address the existential issues society is currently facing, such as climate change.

“As millions of young people continue to protest and demand climate action there is an opportunity and obligation for a sport appreciated by all ages and backgrounds to demonstrate responsible leadership,” added Fiona Pelham, chief executive of Positive Impact Events.

To support the European Club Association, SandSI, Positive Impact Events and The Sustainability Report will launch a social media campaign, #100daysforsport, demonstrating practical examples of professional sports organisations and events contributing to the UN Sustainable Development Goals, including Climate Action.

Niclas Svenningsen, manager of the UNFCCC’s Global Climate Action team that leads the Sports for Climate Action Framework, also extended an invitation to the United Nations’ Climate Action Summit on 24 September “inviting all stakeholders to set new and ambitious targets on climate action.”

“We need to work together to respond to the urgency of climate change, and we welcome this effort to bring more partners on board,” he added.


SandSIWebinar on Watersport and Sustainability

April 10, 2019

After an initial webinar on ISO 20121, SandSI organised a second webinar entitled ‘watersport and sustainability’. How can we use outdoor watersport such as canoeing, surfing, sailing, or rowing to address some of the urgent environmental issues that we are facing?

Three professionals from the watersport industry shared their experience.

  • Anne-Cécile Turner, bringing many years of experience within the private industry into the sport industry as Sustainability Program Leader of the Ocean Race (previously Volvo Ocean Race) and as founder of Blueshift. She shared insight from activities related to the scientific programme Ocean Race but also opportunities to embed sustainability throughout the entire value chain of a sport event.
  • Lars Böcking has been with the 52 Super Series for more than 15 year and is currently their Communication & Marketing Director and Sustainability Officer. The 52 Super Series is the world’s leading grand-prix monohull racing circuit and consists of 45 – 50 races per season. Lars shared his experiences with the development of concrete actions to reduce food waste. Furthermore, he emphasised the importance of paying attention to the ecological footprint of the food that is offered at an event.
  • Catherine Wieser, Marketing and Sustainability Manager and Sustainability Coordinator for the International Canoe Federation (ICF), presenting the organisation’s approach to sustainability, emphasising the importance of connecting different actors in the development of sustainability plans. In addition, the involvement of athletes is a powerful instrument to increase the effect and reach of an event’s efforts.

The entire webinar van be watched on the SandSI YouTube channel or by clicking here.

The date for the next webinar, on the topic of “Partnerships in and through sustainability”, will be announced soon. 


NYYankees 1st team to join UN Sports for Climate…

April 03, 2019

The New York Yankees baseball organisation has made a strong play for a sustainable future by signing the UN Sports for Climate Action Framework. The Yankees are the first major North American sports team to sign on to the Framework, the aim of which is to bring greenhouse emissions in line with the Paris Climate Change Agreement and inspire others to take ambitious climate action. 

The team joins numerous prominent international organisations committed to the Framework, including the International Olympic Committee, FIFA, the French Tennis Federation-Roland Garros, Paris 2024 Summer Olympics, Rugby League World Cup 2021, Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics, UEFA, World Surf League, Formula E, and others.

Launched by UN Climate Change in December 2018, the Framework invites sports organisations to play a leading role by committing to measure, reduce and offset their emissions and use sport as a unifying force to drive climate awareness and action.


Read interview with Allen Hershkowitz, SandSI Founding Director & Chairman and New York Yankees Environmental Science Advisor.

Press release:


A. Hershkowitz new Yankees Environment Advisor

January 30, 2019

Dr. Allen Hershkowitz was named by the New York Yankees as its first Environmental Science Advisor yesterday. The longtime NRDC Senior Scientist, ex-President of the Green Sports Alliance and Founding Director of Sport and Sustainability International (SandSI) becomes the first person to hold such a title in team sports history. Already a major advance in the Green-Sports movement, the Yankees’ move has the chance to be a true game changer.

The New York Yankees have an almost century-old tradition of firsts: Yankee Stadium, which opened in 1923, was the first three-tiered sports venue in the world. The team was the first to put numbers on players’ uniforms. And the Bronx Bombers are the first and only Major League Baseball club to win five World Series titles in a row (from 1949-53).

Another first took place on Tuesday when the Yankees announced that Dr. Allen Hershkowitz had signed on as the team’s Environmental Science Advisor, a position that’s new to the world of professional sports. His work will also support Major League Soccer’s NYCFC, a joint venture between the Yankees and City Football Group, which plays its home games at Yankee Stadium. “Being appointed as the Yankees’ Environmental Science Advisor is a unique honor and responsibility,” said Hershkowitz, a native New Yorker, offered in a statement. “I applaud the team’s leadership for breaking new ground in the sports industry by being the first team to create this important position.”

“This is a very smart move by the Yankees. One of greatest sports organizations in the world has chosen to use its visibility to promote environmental literacy in a critically important way. I congratulate Allen for becoming the Environmental Science Advisor to the Yankees, the most influential team in the history of sports” (John Adams, Founding Director and former President of NRDC).

Source: GreenSportsBlog


SandSI co-sponsors ice-hockey event “The Last Game”

December 02, 2018

The Arctic is one of Earth’s most fragile ecosystems, disproportionally affected by climate change and warming at twice the average rate of the rest of the planet. To garner global attention and support for the rapidly disappearing ice in the Polar regions, Sport and Sustainability International (SandSI) is honored to join with UN Environment in co-sponsoring “The Last Game”.

The Last Game was conceived of and is spearheaded by legendary Russian ice hockey player Viacheslav Fetisov, UN Environment Patron of the Polar Regions. The game will be played about 80 kilometers south of the geographic North Pole, in the last week of April 2020 (initial date: April 2019). Only the players, media and small organizing team will join the expedition to the North Pole. It is expected that The Last Game – with live or nearly-live media coverage worldwide – will attract a significant and influential international audience due to the urgency of decisively addressing climate change.  

The Last Game is not just an ice hockey game. It is a trigger for action. It will serve as a magnet for global attention to an issue of global significance requiring global engagement to resolve. It is the first in a series of events, which will live long after the last goal at the North Pole has been scored.

The programme will include a scientific session on climate change in the Arctic, sessions presenting best practices in business climate actions, and a discussion on how to best connect sports and climate action. Arctic countries’ businesses will be able to share their own climate actions, their achievements and what they are committed to do for climate mitigation. Exchanges of experience and environmental practices, as well as understanding that the global business sector needs to step up efforts, inspired by success stories, examples and strong voices from the sports domain, will be key elements of the programme.

This symbolic ice hockey game aims at involving a great diversity of female and male players, including athletes from different disciplines and countries, Arctic indigenous peoples and youth. It will bring together sports and environment as agents of peace and serve as a prelude to the September 2019 Climate Summit of the UN Secretary General.

The Last Game is supported by the UN Secretary-General, His Holiness Pope Francis and Prince Albert of Monaco, the Republic of Sport Foundation and with the support of Grid Arendal. General partners include Pontifical Council for Culture, National Geographic Society, UN Framework Convention on Climate Change and UNOPS. Scientific partners include the World Meteorological Organisation, Climate Leadership Coalition, Sport and Sustainability International and sport partners the NHL Alumni Association and the International Ice Hockey Federation.

In an early November 2018 meeting to obtain support for the event from Finnish President Sauli Niistro, SandSI’s Board Chairman Dr. Allen Hershkowitz joined Jan Dusik, the Director and Regional Representative for UN Environment’s Europe Office; Viacheslav Fêtisov, a former professional hockey player from Russia who is the UNEP’s Patron for Polar Regions and the former Russian Minster for Sport, and;  Jouni Keronen, the CEO of the Climate Leadership Coalition. At the meeting with President Niistro, SandSI’s Chairman Hershkowitz said “Sport is a non-political unifier that can help promote climate literacy and reduce the cultural polarization that limits our ability to effectively mobilize the world in response to the unprecedented threat posed by climate change”.

The Last Game at the North Pole will include a series of outreach and media events. On February 8th – 10th in Helsinki SandSI will participate in a “Save Pond Hockey” prelude event to The Last Game, including a high-level climate and sport panel and a Save Pond Hockey tournament in which Slava Fetisov will participate.

The aim of the game and related events has multiple objectives:

1. To raise awareness of the rate of global warming, which is changing the face of the Arctic in such a way that it may become nearly ice-free by the summer of 2040 (hence the title of the event).

2. To demonstrate that the Arctic environment is very fragile and important for the well-being of all people on the planet.

3. To focus on interrelated problems tied to Climate Change in the Arctic such as food production, trade, tourism, infrastructure and economic development.

4. To emphasize the value of collaboration, friendship and peace.

5. To present sports as a strong amplifier of the need for climate action and show that it is leading the way in reducing its own carbon footprint.

6. To showcase the holding of sports events with a minimum environmental impact, even in such an extreme setting.

Despite the operational and logistical complexity of the project, The Last Game will be conducted in such a manner that the environmental impact on the fragile Arctic will be minimal. All carbon impacts associated with the preparation and celebration of the game will be kept at the responsible minimum and will be compensated for.

More detailed information about the project is available on the dedicated event website: or can be received from the UN Environment’s project coordinator Jan Dusik (jan.dusik(at)


SandSI Hosting Sport and Climate Change Summit

September 18, 2018

In support of Climate Week in New York City SandSI has joined with the Global Crisis Information Network (GCINET) to host the Sport and Climate Change Summit to promote GHG reduction strategies and the Citizens Climate Pledge. 

SandSI’s Sport and Climate Change Summit is a one-half day event that will be held on the eve of the United Nations General Assembly general debate and help usher in Climate Week NYC. The event will take place on the 21st  September 2018 at Scandinavia House, 38th St and Park Avenue, in New York City.

At the Summit, Julia Palle, President of SandSI and Allen Hershkowitz, Chairman and Founding Director of SandSI will join with SandSI members including the New York Yankees, the New York Mets, Major League Soccer, NASCAR and the USTA to discuss their GHG offsetting investments into (life-saving) cookstoves and forestry preservation in Africa, in support of the UN Sustainable Development Goals. 

It will be the first public discussion of these climate-intelligent humanitarian initiatives, unique in all of sports.

The offsets that will be discussed were arranged by three SandSI Founding Members, SouthPole, Allcot and Eco-Act.

SandSI’s Sport and Climate Change Summit will also feature a conversation among leading communications experts, a former professional athlete, and a representative from the Broadway Green Alliance, who will discuss how sport and entertainment might more effectively encourage climate-related behavior change. Speakers include David Fenton, Robin Raj, and Jennifer Hershey.

And it will also include a featured interview by Robin Raj, a SandSI Founding Member with Mike Richter, Hall of Fame NHL Player and Viacheslav Fetisov, Hall of Fame NHL Player. They will discuss how athletes might help promote climate literacy.

More Information here.