MIT Sloan Management Review Examines Key Lessons Businesses Can Learn From The 2024 Paris Olympics Race To Decarbonization

(MENAFN- PR Newswire) CAMBRIDGE, Mass., June 24, 2024 /PRNewswire/ -- Pursuing
decarbonization goals is a long, time-consuming journey. Many organizations struggle to identify where to start and how to scale their decarbonization efforts. New insights released from MIT Sloan Management Review
look to the Paris 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games where officials committed to reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by about half (compared to the average emitted in the preparation for and operation of the London 2012 and Rio 2016 Games) for key strategies used to achieve this goal in just seven years.


2024 Paris Olympic Games: Three Main Sources of Carbon Impact

The Paris 2024 team is hitting large sustainability goals by engaging stakeholders with facts and data, breaking silos, making allies, and creating a network of partners.

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In "How the 2024 Paris Olympics Fast-Tracked Decarbonization ,"
authors Atalay Atasu and Luk N. Van Wassenhove, cofounders and directors of INSEAD's Sustainable Business Initiative, detail how the team created and executed a strict carbon budget.

From reusable bottles to a three-layered energy grid, resalable furniture, and bicycle transport, Paris 2024 made an ambitious commitment, deployed in a learn-as-you-go type of decarbonization process. The time-compressed decarbonization journey of Paris 2024 provides a good example of the must-haves for success, including a top-level commitment, strong execution levers (e.g., strict carbon budgets), new tools (e.g., material footprints), fearless and motivated leadership ready to break a few walls (e.g., rethinking sourcing and performance), and aligned partners.

"Large organizations can learn a lot from their actions," said Van Wassenhove. "By looking outside of internal resources and building an entire ecosystem, the Paris 2024 team is hitting large sustainability goals by engaging stakeholders with facts and data, breaking silos, making allies, and creating a network of suppliers, partners, local authorities, and clients to create a focused decarbonization process."

Four lessons learned while sprinting toward decarbonization:

  • Do the prep work necessary to set well-defined goals:
    Draw up baseline budgets, collect data, determine a detailed material footprint, and define sourcing.
  • Break a few walls:
    Use local sourcing, substitute lower-emission materials, change distribution models, and actively manage and recycle waste.
  • Find creative partners and prioritize ecosystem thinking:
    Look beyond internal resources and develop partnerships and ecosystem thinking for sourcing models.
  • Turn lemons into lemonade and think local:
    Cut travel and emissions with creative nearer locations, transport, and hybrid or hydrogen-operated vehicles.

"As a result, what has been built is a lasting sustainability ecosystem, not just for future games and other events but also for business and society as a whole," concludes Atasu. "Engaging in decarbonization requires stamina and the long-term view that sustainability is larger than any one company. It is about a sense of purpose that engages employees and broader stakeholders. And it takes more than just inspiration to get there - and the team of Paris 2024 is a prime working example."

The MIT Sloan Management Review article "How the 2024 Paris Olympics Fast-Tracked Decarbonization "
publishes at 8 a.m. ET on June 24, 2024.

About the Authors
Atalay Atasu is a professor of technology and operations management at Insead, where he holds the Bianca and James Pitt Endowed Chair in Environmental Sustainability. Luk N. Van Wassenhove is an emeritus professor of technology and operations management at Insead. His major work is in sustainability and humanitarian operations. They cofounded and direct the INSEAD Sustainable Business Initiative.

About MIT Sloan Management Review
MIT Sloan Management Review
is an independent, research-based magazine and digital platform for business leaders published at the MIT Sloan School of Management. MIT SMR explores how leadership and management are transforming in a disruptive world. We help thoughtful leaders capture the exciting opportunities - and face down the challenges - created as technological, societal, and environmental forces reshape how organizations operate, compete, and create value.

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