This week, SIA announced the launch of a new campaign aimed at rallying the winter outdoor community around immediate, achievable climate action. The new initiative is called ClimateUnited, and already some big brands in the winter sports industry—Burton, K2, and Rossignol among them—have gotten on board.
The program is divided into two parts: an accountability pledge called the Winter Outdoor Industry Climate Pact, and a set of tools for achieving the goals outlined in the pact, called the ClimateUnited Roadmap.
A new digital platform on SIA's website, the SIA Climate Hub, will also be available through the program, offering a suite of resources for brands trying to achieve certain climate benchmarks. Among other offerings, the Hub will feature webinars, workshops, collaboration opportunities with outside experts, and a platform to share ideas and best practices.
"As everybody knows, climate change is a direct threat to the winter outdoor industry," said Chris Steinkamp, director of climate and advocacy at SIA. "We are literally on the front lines of the issue. Listening to our members, we know this challenge is critically important to them. In recent years, many of them have looked to us to provide a solution. Now, it's here."
Specifics of the program
The first part of the program, the Winter Outdoor Industry Climate Pact, will be free to sign for any brand, retailer, resort, rep, or supplier of the winter outdoor community, regardless of SIA membership. A release today said that SIA will "provide annual updates and celebrate those businesses who sign the pact at their annual meeting in January and to consumers via their Snowbound Festivals."
The ClimateUnited Roadmap and SIA Climate Hub, the second part of the program, will be free for SIA members only. The goal of those resources, Steinkamp said, will be to provide companies with guidance in meeting climate goals. The roadmap itself is modeled on the 1.5°C Business Playbook, a systematic approach to climate improvements for businesses that's used around the world by companies small and large—from boutique brands like Houdini Sportswear in Sweden to industry giants like IKEA.
"The advantage of the Playbook is that it's very flexible in terms of setting targets that are achievable," Steinkamp said. "What we're most focused on is getting companies to take that first step. There are a lot of companies that just aren't doing anything right now. If we can say, 'Look, let's make the commitment, and let's give it your best shot,' that's the most valuable part of this whole thing."
With direction from the 1.5°C Business Playbook, the ClimateUnited Roadmap will help businesses focus their efforts in three areas: emissions reductions, political advocacy, and responsible business practices.
What makes the platform different
Said Steinkamp, the key difference between ClimateUnited and other similar initiatives is that SIA's new effort will focus on climate in a holistic sense.
"Reducing emissions is obviously very important," Steinkamp said. "Getting our emissions to target levels is key. But political advocacy is also incredibly important—mobilizing companies to elevate their voices on the political stage."
That, in turn, will help businesses think of themselves as climate-first companies, which is ultimately where we need to go if we plan to maintain our status as an industry that can do business in a sustainable—and therefore profitable—way.
"The questions are: How can you get your employees to embrace this? How can you change your mission? How can you start creating more sustainable products?" Steinkamp said. "It's more of a holistic view of climate action than a lot of the other programs that are out there."
Why it's needed
Asked why SIA needed to create its own program when others already exist, Steinkamp was clear: The effort exists to serve SIA members first and foremost.
"We really needed a B2B platform for our members that addresses climate change in a holistic way," Steinkamp said. "We're not competing with a group like POW. In fact, in our Climate Hub, we're directing participants to the nonprofits that do the best work, and POW's at the top of that list. I don't think we're reinventing the wheel in terms of the work POW does. We're just bringing it directly to our members."
As for the Climate Action Corps, Steinkamp said that SIA chose to create its own platform because it wanted to offer a free resource to its members—one specifically tailored to challenges in the winter outdoor industry.
"We're not really acting separately from the Climate Action Corps," said Steinkamp. "We're simply delivering a free platform for SIA members."
SIA will host a webinar to preview the platform on October 29 at 1 p.m. MDT. The preview is open to all, regardless of SIA membership. Register here.
Correction: An earlier version of this story quoted a source who incorrectly claimed that only Outdoor Industry Association members can access OIA's Climate Action Corps materials. OIA membership is not required to join the Climate Action Corps.