Five of the world's most proactive Golf Federations are the first to announce their commitment to multiply the social and environmental benefits of golf and synchronize their sustainability programmes and recognition internationally through multi-year partnerships with the Golf Environment Organization (GEO).
The Federazione Italiana Golf, The Nederlandse Golf Federatie, The Federação Portuguesa de Golfe, The Svenska Golfförbundet, and the Dansk Golf Union join a growing number of golf and environmental organisations, businesses, scientists and thought leaders who recognise that proactively addressing the needs of people and the planet will make the golf industry stronger and the game more enjoyable.
The motivation for these federations is the recognition that sustainability is a common denominator issue that spans organisations and geo-political borders; that golf can and should get behind comprehensive guidelines, criteria and recognition programmes; and that having an Environmental Partner brings greater credibility and efficiency to their own efforts.
Whilst the core function of these federations is to govern the administration of golf in their respective countries, more and more national bodies are recognising that sustainable operation and growth are perhaps the largest external factors affecting the future health and development of the sport.
"Golf is a key factor in achieving sustainability goals by creating opportunities to improve local environment through rehabilitation or preservation of landscape and habitats and increased biodiversity. Both new and existing golf facilities can provide a significant legacy in terms of ecological value," stated Pedro Vicente, Secretary General of the Federação Portuguesa de Golfe, adding "For Portugal, golf development is a strategic objective for strengthening tourism and it is important to take a holistic approach to these new golf projects, integrating economic, social and environmental aspects".
Antonio Bozzi, Chairman of the Federazione Italiana Golf's Green Section said of the new partnership: "We are fully convinced of the strong and mutually beneficial relationship between golf and ecology. The partnership with GEO is of paramount importance, because of their certification and recognition programmes, and especially for the wealth of knowledge and support they provide to the world of golf across the full range of sustainability issues and opportunities".
On behalf of the The Nederlandse Golf Federatie, Alfred Touber Director of Golf Course Development, addressed sustainable golf: "For years, the Netherlands have taken a very proactive stand toward moving our golf courses and new developments in the direction of greater sustainability.
This partnership with GEO will strengthen the results and provide global recognition for the commitment and efforts and achievements being made".
Torben Kastrup Petersen, Head of Golf Course Management at the Dansk Golf Union is equally enthusiastic: "Internationally connected programming is vital for a global sports industry such as golf.
The environment has no borders and GEO are to be commended for crafting a streamlined and effective programme that drives credible continual improvement in golf facilities. The DGU recognises GEO Certification as a vital mechanism in attaining our vision of golf as a social, economic and environmental asset to the people of Denmark."
Secretary General for Svenska Golfförbundet, Gunnar Håkansson, conveyed his commitment: "A credible effort to achieve environmental, social and economic sustainability is one of the most valuable tools in the golf industry's efforts to achieve greater legitimacy and to expand and develop at the pace desired.
It is our vision that all 550 Swedish golf facilities are engaged in this ongoing process, earning both national and international recognition".
Maria Strandberg, R&D Director for Svenska Golfförbundet, added: "International co-operation is one of the most important prerequisites for success regarding sustainability. GEO is a strong and dynamic partner to the golf industry worldwide and we look forward to working with GEO and the other national golf federations in the partnership".
Expressing his delight at the partnerships, GEO Chairman, Bjorn Nordberg said: "GEO's core function is to work in close partnership with golf organisations. Through this we can help to further people's understanding of social and environmental issues, and also practically assist the sector in improving its performance and reputation.
"We believe that bringing together the respective strengths of both organisations - the leadership, influence and grass roots contact of the national body - with GEO's international connections, credible programmes and modern sustainability agenda is an effective and productive formula.
"It is the support of these and many other bodies in golf that makes GEO an engaged, relevant and ultimately valuable partner for the sector".
Jonathan Smith, CEO of GEO added: "At a time when golf is recognising that global issues need global solutions, a comprehensive sustainability framework enables, and indeed depends upon, diverse parts of the industry to come together. It is about identifying common goals and embracing multiple roles".