— Published 9 March 2023

Fencing dedicates a day to the planet

The date is one to remember. On Saturday 8 April 2023, the International Fencing Federation (FIE) will dedicate an entire day to saving the planet.

A “Fencing for the Planet” day, the first of its kind. Twenty-four hours during which the fencing community around the world will take initiatives in favour of environmental protection and sustainability.

Fencing has never been singled out as an environmentally unfriendly sport. However, its international body has placed sustainability high on its agenda.

In 2019, the third edition of World Fencing Day, organised every year in September, was dedicated to saving the planet. A first salvo. The employees of the Lausanne headquarters had collectively decided to organise a clean-up of a section of the beach from Vidy to Saint-Sulpice, on Lake Geneva, in cooperation with two partners: Cheval et Environnement for ecological transport and waste disposal, and ASL (Association for the Conservation of the Leman Lake), which provides the tools to collect waste abandoned in the streets or on the beaches.

With its first “Fencing for the Planet” day, the FIE is stepping up the pace. It is also setting a date for the future, by setting in stone an initiative intended to mobilise its national federations, but also its athletes. The aim is to carry out actions in favour of the planet and people, their health and their environment.

At the helm of the project is Ana Irene Delgado. A former top-level fencer, lawyer and diplomat, the Panamanian sits on the FIE’s executive committee. She is vice-president and an observer on the Ethics Committee.

Last May, the South American leader headed a working group dedicated to the environment. Around the table were representatives of several FIE committees (medical, marketing, SEMI), as well as continental confederations.

Very quickly, the idea of an annual day for the planet imposed itself on the members of the group. A date was set: the second Saturday in April, every year. A logo was designed. An ambassador for the project, chosen from among the athletes, was appointed to carry the message.

The ambition? To go beyond declarations of intent and put them into action. Ana Irene Delgado explains: “We have drawn up a whole series of actions and guidelines for national federations, competition organisers, athletes and all our stakeholders to be even more respectful of the planet. We recommend, for example, the abandonment of plastic bottles, the use of public transport, renewable energy and locally produced food.”

Other recommendations include donating uneaten food items from an event or competition to charity.

Equipment manufacturers are also being asked to participate in the collective effort. “We have asked them to think about a more responsible evolution of equipment – weapons and outfits – with more environmentally friendly materials,” continued the FIE vice-president. ” A meeting is planned for the next cadet/junior world championships in early April in Plovdiv, Bulgaria.

The FIE has set an example. Instead of face-to-face meetings of its executive committee or its commissions, which were for a long time held in Lausanne or elsewhere in the world, the body has since last year favoured the virtual world, by videoconference. This is anything but anecdotal for its carbon footprint.

The athletes? They are in demand. “The juniors, in particular, are very receptive to our proposals and recommendations,” explains Ana Irene Delgado. They are extremely concerned about the future of the planet. And they are willing to reduce waste, with responsible actions and habits, not only at competitions but also in their daily lives.

At the head of the procession, Ruben Limardo. The Venezuelan epeeist, Olympic champion at the London 2012 Games and president of the FIE’s Athletes’ Commission, volunteered to join the environmental working group. Quite a symbol.