While reiterating its intention to open itself up to other areas of the wider sports business besides the sporting goods market, which it has been covering for the past 50 years, the management of Ispo made solid new commitments in the areas of sustainability, social responsibility and diversity during the latest edition of the Ispo Munich trade show, held on Jan. 26-29.

“Sport can bring people together,” said Klaus Dittrich, chairman and chief executive of Messe München, announcing a new project for an “Ispo foundation” to help make sport accessible to more people. He also announced a new annual one-day conference, the Ispo SDG Summit, intended to use “the power of sports and the outdoors” to discuss concrete actions to overcome human and social inactivity and help implement the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the United Nations.

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which was adopted by the U.N. in 2015, seeks to ending poverty and other forms of deprivation by improving health and education, reducing inequality and spurring economic development, while tackling climate change and working to preserve our oceans and forests.

Focusing on physical inactivity, the first conference will take place in Munich on Jan. 29, with a goal of bringing together 250 of the most influential people in sports, politics and society. Replacing the former Ispo Digitize Summit, it will happen during the second edition of Messe München’s OutDoor by Ispo trade show, scheduled for June 28 to July 1. The keynote speech will be delivered by Prof. Muhammad Yunus, the Nobel Peace Prize laureate, who will also be leading the organization of the 10th edition of the Global Social Business Summit and the Social Business Days in the same city on June 26-29. Ispo is calling this chain of events the “Summer of Purpose.”

The announcement of the new convention, made at a fully packed press conference that can be streamed on ispo.com, was accompanied by a moving speech by Ron Garan, the 58-year-old American astronaut who published a book titled The Orbital Perspective in 2014. Showing pictures of his space flights, he explained why we should see each other as interdependent nations sharing a fragile planet, living in harmony and working in more collaborative ways with a multi-generational view of the world. 

At the same conference, Dittrich said that everyone in the sporting goods industry has started to wondering how to contribute to sustainability, which was the big buzzword at Ispo Munich. More than ever before, the companies exhibiting at the trade show felt somehow compelled to talk about their new environmentally friendly materials and processes, although some observers see this as “greenwashing.”

“Ecosystems work best in harmony,” said Mark Held, president of the European Outdoor Group (EOG), when discussing initiatives like the Microfiber Consortium that the association recently founded. At Ispo, Antje von Dewitz, president of Vaude, was elected as a vice-president of the EOG, whose members are said to be investing on average 2 percent of their turnover to help preserve the environment. She has been a vocal supporter of sustainability (more in our Outdoor Industry Compass).

To mark the 50th anniversary of Ispo and its pledge to work for equality in sport, Dittrich handed over the 50th Ispo Cup to Tegla Loroupe in front of around 500 guests during the traditional VIP dinner at the show. The 46-year-old Kenyan marathon champion organized the first Refugee Team for the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. Supported by the United Nations, who named her “United Nations Person of the Year” for this initiative, she is training a similar international team of refugees for next summer’s Olympics in Tokyo.

Loroupe was the first African woman to win the New York City Marathon in 1994. Born in a family with 24 siblings, she had to walk 10 kilometers to school every day.