Weltklasse Zurich's street venue on the Sechselautenplatz (© Getty Images)
Weltklasse Zurich has been writing athletics history for almost 100 years and as the meeting has developed, so too has its sustainability strategy. In the lead up to its 2028 centenary, the host of this year’s Wanda Diamond League final has set several ambitious goals, delivering a zero-emission meeting to celebrate its 100th anniversary among them.
“We want zero emissions for the entire meeting universe by 2028,” said co-meeting director Christoph Joho. “We will have to prove our innovation prowess in various areas to do this. However, we feel that taking this future-oriented, game-changing step is paramount.”
The meeting began its sustainability journey with a comprehensive analysis in 2008. One year later the initial base measures were put in place, and the meeting became carbon-neutral. Promoting the use of public transport, focusing on local products and abandoning LED lights for the closing ceremony were all aspects of the new approach. Emissions that cannot be avoided are compensated through certified climate projects, but the meeting intends to go the extra mile.
“At Weltklasse Zurich, we strive to be pioneers. Our ambition is to be ‘Weltklasse’, both on and off the track,” Joho said. “Because of that, we have initiated some very important projects. And we will, of course, live up to our motto. We will ‘never stop getting better’ and will always set our goals high – with respect to the environment, to social aspects and to economic sustainability.”
More projects on all levels
The meeting’s mission is to promote athletics at all levels which also means organising innovative events outside of its home at Letzigrund Stadium. The UBS Kids Cup youth initiative and its winter edition UBS Kids Cup Team, for example, have reached almost 1.5 million children and teenagers between the ages of seven and 15. That has resulted in a considerable growth of the number of young athletes participating in athletics since the initiative’s inauguration in 2011.
In addition to this year’s special street venue for some Wanda Diamond League final events on the Sechselautenplatz, the city’s largest square, with free admission, there will be several pop-up events during the week leading up to the meeting, including the Weltklasse Zurich Extra Mile, a new school project.
Equal pay and gender parity
Equal pay for women’s and men’s events has been a Diamond League policy since its first season in 2010, but it was in force in Zurich before that. Gender parity, too, is also a priority, on the track and behind the scenes.
Organisers are aiming to achieve equal numbers of female and male participants in the UBS Kids Cup, as well as with volunteers and members of the organising committee. A mentoring programme has been launched to ensure that gender parity can be achieved in the management team as well by 2027.
A six-figure amount for Switzerland’s athletics community
On a local level, Zurich’s athletics club Leichtathletik Club Zurich (LCZ) is the most important and long-term beneficiary of Weltklasse Zurich. The meeting provides financial and human resources and knowledge to the club and also to federations, other clubs and organisations, as well as higher education institutions.
Internationally, Weltklasse Zurich works with the Wanda Diamond League and shares professional knowledge, is active as a member of the series’ governing board and offers support to developing meetings. The meeting also launched a Diamond League initiative to financially support athletics in Ukraine this spring.
A six-figure amount the meeting generates every year is reinvested in the future of athletics, and in athletes, coaches and the sport’s structures. Building an indoor athletics arena on the Letzigrund grounds to further entrench the sport in Zurich is an additional long-term goal.
Athletics innovation, with added value for society
Weltklasse Zurich joined forces with the Athletikzentrum fur Spitzensport OYM in Cham to create an athletics innovation cell. All organisations involved share a focus on promoting the sport and its stars. Launched in 2011, the UBS Kids Cup series has become an unparalleled success among youth sports initiative. Other successful projects include Leichtathletik 2030 and the coach summits held during the meeting week. In the future, further forums will be organised to share knowledge regarding sustainability and partnerships to benefit the sport of athletics.
Advisory Board and transparency
The evaluation and development of sustainability goals will take centre stage when it comes to future organisational aspects of Weltklasse Zurich. Sustainability will be a focus of the meeting’s organising committee, and an Advisory Board will be created to analyse and evaluate all processes. Annual reports will show how the meeting progresses with its sustainability goals.
Organisers for World Athletics