Runners on a hill top in the forest

Read about the theme and topics for the EuroMeet 2022 conference in Silkeborg, Denmark.

THEME: Green sports for a greener and healthier Europe

It’s now more important than ever to become proactively involved in the transition to a greener outdoor sports sector as well as showcasing the value and the power of outdoor sports to society.

As a network ENOS will encourage and support our members to commit to new and innovative ways of working within their own local, regional or national setting to develop and manage greener outdoor sports as well as more sustainable and healthier ways of living.

The aim of promoting outdoor sports in Europe and committing to doing this in more sustainable ways will provide both challenges and opportunities for organizations, welfare institutions, private companies and civil society.

It provides challenges for those involved in outdoor sports to think more carefully about their activities and impacts. However, we believe that it provides great opportunities for outdoor sports and recreation and the resulting health and community benefits that can be gained by being physically active in natural settings out ways the challenges that we face.

The Outdoor Sports Euro’Meet 2022 will focus on the overall theme Green sports for a greener and healthier Europe. And on both the challenges and opportunities that lie before us.

We will address three topics within the theme that will provide opportunities for in depth discussions and inspiration.

  • Balancing access, activities and protection
  • Be Active, Be Healthy, Be Outdoors
  • Welfare and the power of the outdoor
Mother and child exploring the forests around Silkeborg

Balancing Access, Activities and Protection

Today we see an increasing demand for easier access to nature. And an increasing demand for more and larger recreational areas in nature for a variety of outdoor sports and recreational activities. Both demands are reasonable in a recreational, sports and not least a health perspective.

High quality outdoor facilities, better and more modern information, precise wayfinding, overview of points of interest etc. means easier access to nature and hence to the social, mental and physical health benefits associated with being outside.

We must, however, not take nature for granted. On the contrary, we must always have a focus on protecting and preserving our nature, promoting biodiversity, sustainability and creating more nature.

But is there a third way where we can both protect and design nature for outdoor sports?

Where we can design and create new nature that are both sustainable and interesting in an outdoor sports perspective right from the start?

Key points to be discussed:
  • How do we balance the use of nature and natureprotection when developing outdoor sports?
  • How do we develop a mindset and a culture that embraces the use of nature and protecting nature – how do we create a mindset where the use and protection of nature are not conflicting?
  • How to develop and carry out projects in protected natural areas?
  • How to design and create new nature that supports outdoor sports from the start?
MTB cyklist i skoven
MTB-track in Vesterskoven – just 10 minutes from the center of Silkeborg

Be Active, Be Healthy, Be Outdoors

The outdoors and outdoor sports are effective tools in health promotion and disease prevention.
But what do we already know? We know that there are huge problems all over Europe with physical inactivity, obesity, depression, anxiety and other lifestyle related diseases – both among young people and adults. And we know that there are many benefits to social, mental and physical health from being outside.

There is a solid statistical foundation across Europe showing this quit clearly and new research is published regularly about the benefits of being outside and being physical active.

Unfortunately, we don’t know as much about how to get more people outside. And we don’t know as much about moving people from physical inactivity to physical active. Or how to continuously motivate them so they stay active in the long run.

We need to focus more on how to move people outside and from physical inactive to active.

Key points to be discussed:
  • What activities do actually work? What is the evidence base? How do we inspire practitioners to develop new activities that motivate people – that change behavior – using existing knowledge?
  • How to communicate effectively to target groups that are not “the usual suspects”? How do we reach our target groups? And how do we make communication interesting and modern when we are outside – out in nature?
  • How do we organize our activities effectively? Both locally and across sports clubs, municipalities, sports federations, state agencies etc.?
Vandresti i skoven
Hiking path in the forrests around Silkeborg

Welfare and the power of the outdoor

A bit simplified we tend to look at the benefits of nature and outdoor sports in either a recreational or a tourism perspective. The BOSS project has helped us to widen our perspective to include a variety of benefits to society. The BOSS project as well as other studies show, that there are huge potential benefits of looking at nature and outdoor activities and sports in a public welfare perspective.

The next step is a much broader and much more ambitious integration of nature, outdoor activities and public welfare.

Nature and outdoor activities should be developed as an effective tool to provide learning in primary schools. Outdoor learning environments should be a natural part of every school. Elderly people should go outside every day. But why not build outdoor nursing homes where nature is brought inside? And outdoor daycare centers where the children are more outside than inside?

There are many different opportunities for integrating nature and outdoor activities in existing public welfare – in existing schools, day care, health care etc. If we, however, look at long term public planning there are new opportunities regarding developing “outdoor neighborhoods”, infrastructure that motivate people to go outside and be active and “outdoor business areas” focusing on nature and sustainability.

But how do we raise our level of ambitions? What have already been tried? And what went well?

Key points to be discussed:
  • How do we set new standards for integrating nature and outdoor sports in public welfare?
  • Where do we find inspiration? What outdoor projects have had a positive effect on core public welfare? And how do we copy them in our own local context?
  • How do we move on from goals, policies and strategies to actual projects and activities that make a difference?
  • How do we involve our communities in this transformation of public welfare? How do we get support? Participation from business and volunteer organizations? And financing?