“Good governance is about better return, better performance; it is not just about compliance, which is not the goal but the mean to become more credible and receive better support!” With these clear words, Pierre-Olivier Beckers, IOC Member and President of the Belgian NOC, addressed the Final Conference of the SIGGS Project during his keynote speech. He added that “it is urgent to restore the trust of all stakeholders and the public opinion in general. Without trust and credibility, without the necessary transparency, without restoring the positive image of sport, how long will people continue to watch elite sports and the Olympic Games, how long will the youth of the Games want to join clubs and federations, how long will governments and private sponsors continue to fund the development of sport worldwide? Our very survival is at stake.” With regards to the SIGGS Project, he stressed that “the SIGGS project, in its support of the implementation of Good governance is fully part of the implementation of the Olympic Agenda 2020 and focuses on helping the NOC’s and national federations to improve their governance by providing a crucial self-evaluation tool. The self-evaluation tool is a great way to get started and be aware of where you stand on the good governance journey.”
The SIGGS Project was indeed created with the aim to provide specific, tailor-made and practical advice to NOCs and national sport federations on the implementation of good governance. The Final Conference was the occasion to present the final outcomes and achievements of this project, which started in January 2015 under the management of the European Olympic Committees EU Office (EOC EU Office). Around 80 participants attended the Conference, among them representatives of various European or international federations as well as representatives of 17 different European NOCs. Folker Hellmund, Director of the EOC EU Office, welcomed all participants and referred to the future of the SIGGS Project. He stressed that the need for continuous effort is paramount when implementing good governance. In that regard, he stated that the EOC EU Office will ensure that the SIGGS Project will continue its implementation of activities, through additional Strategic Workshops and by providing support to NOCs and federations, in 2017 and beyond.
Matthias Van Baelen, Project Manager of the SIGGS Project, provided an overview of two years of project implementation highlighting some of the most remarks facts and figures. Furthermore, he presented the final version of the innovative and unique self-evaluation tool, which besides the possibility to analyse various aspects of governance and ethics also includes functionalities such as the ability to consult various Roadmaps and to generate a customised Action Plan specific for each organisation.
Following this presentation, Thierry Zintz, Professor of the University of Louvain, presented the results of the self-evaluation that was run in the seven countries of the SIGGS Project. Over 200 federations and NOCs have taken part in this evaluation, which is a major achievement. In his presentation, Thierry Zintz highlighted some of the common weaker and stronger elements in the implementation of governance in Europe; although he stressed clearly that the assessment was based on self-declared data. Florian Kaiser of the Leadership Academy of the DOSB explained some of the sustainability measures that were foreseen within the SIGGS methodology including some recommendations for future activities. In particular, he presented two different models that NOCs and federations could consider when implementing good governance. He also explained how the SIGGS Project fits within these efforts.
During the afternoon session, a panel discussion was organised to further discuss how good governance could be further implemented and what is the role of umbrella organisations in this process. The high-level panel, which was moderated by Darren Bailey, consisted of the following representatives: Ingmar De Vos, President of the International Equestrian Federation (FEI), Marijke Fleuren-van Walsem, President of the European Hockey Federation, Kamil Novak, Executive Director of FIBA Europe, Joao Paulo Almeida, General Director of the NOC of Portugal, and Jean-Michel Saive, Chair of the EOC Athletes’ Commission. Several aspects of good governance were highlighted throughout the discussion. Ingmar De Vos for instance stressed the importance of education in changing the culture within a sports organisation. Joao Paulo Almeida referred to the importance of safeguarding the values of sport. Jean-Michel Saive referred to the situation of athletes by stressing the need for athletes to get their voice heard and the need for athletes to be able to trust their federations in order for them to be able to focus on their sport and performances. Kamil Novak stated that “good governance is a never-ending process towards better governance.” Marijke Fleuren-van Walsem agreed with this statement by referring to SIGGS stating that “SIGGS is part of this process as it provides the new oxygen which is very welcome for this ongoing process in the world of sport.”
Finally, Janez Kocijancic, acting EOC President, had the honour to provide the conference conclusions and to officially open the tool for NOCs and national federations in the 50 countries of the EOC. He thanked the European Union for their support and the EOC EU Office and all project partners for the excellent work in the implementation of this project. Furthermore, he invited all sport organisations to make use of this tool to strengthen the governance of sport in Europe. The Final Conference is not the end of the SIGGS Project. It represents the end of the pilot phase of the tool, but equally opens the next chapter of implementation as the tool is now open and available for use by all NOCs and national sport federations across Europe. The tool can be accessed via the following website: siggs.novagov.com.
It is the European Olympic Committees’ commitment to continue the development of the SIGGS tool and the SIGGS activities that have been started during the project lifetime and to contribute to the development of sport in Europe.