The European Outdoor Group (EOG), which currently federates 110 of the world’s leading industrial and retail companies from the outdoor sector, has announced its priorities for the coming years. The focus will be on three pillars: Doing business right with the help of business intelligence; preserving the outdoors; and getting Europeans more active outdoors.

To achieve this, new board members have been appointed. One of the existing members, Antje von Dewitz, has been elevated to the position of vice-president of the association. We see her appointment as a strong sign of the association’s commitment to sustainability as well as its promotion of gender equality. She has been very vocal on both points, implementing them widely at Vaude, the German company of which she is the chief executive.

Von Dewitz succeeds the former CEO of Salomon, Jean-Marc Pambet, who resigned after many years on the EOG board, following his recent retirement from the Amer Sports group. In her new role, von Dewitz would like to see the association focus more strongly on the conservation of nature and on sustainable action. Her vision is to launch a profitable business “in which our members give back more than we take from nature and people.”

The first step has been the implementation of the EOG’s multi-step Sustainability Charter, which has been signed by 97 percent of the association’s members. With it, they commit themselves to pursue best practices in the areas of sustainability as well as corporate social responsibility. Based on this, an action plan is to be developed to measure sustainable action.

According to the EOG, its members are spending an estimated €200 million a year on CSR and sustainability, but they could do more.

The EOG has also welcomed two new members to the board: Paolo Bordin, who runs Aku, an Italian shoe manufacturer that is highly committed to sustainability, and Guillaume Meyzenq from Salomon. In addition, two members who had been co-opted in 2019 were confirmed as permanent members at the EOG’s annual meeting just before the Ispo Munich trade show: Nikolai Rabaek Christensen from Ecco and Benjamin Thaller, president of Outdoor Sports Valley (OSV). Michel Gogniat from Ternua has been appointed treasurer, succeeding in this role Eddy Codega from Camp, who has resigned.

The EOG also has a new head of retail, Peter Ottervanger, who recently resigned as European general manager of Icebreaker. He takes over some of the functions of Anny Cardinahl, a former manager of Globetrotter who finished her work as retail consultant for the EOG in February. Only 35 members of the EOG are currently retailers, and, hopefully, there will be more in the future.

Ottervanger’s role is to work with members and stakeholders to initiate new retail projects and to promote existing ones. One of them calls for the joint development and implementation by vendors and retailers of new strategies to reduce the use of plastics and to encourage recycling. Even retailers who are not members of the EOG, like Decathlon and Zalando, are participating in this project.

The EOG is the promoter of the Microfiber Consortium, which is making some tangible progress on this score, working also in collaboration with the European Commission.

When it comes to the promotion of outdoor sports activities, notably through the It’s Great Out There Coalition and the EOG’s participation in the European Week of Sport, the management of the EOG wants to use the wider definition used by consumers for these activities, which includes sports like cycling and paddle-sports.

Arne Strate is still the general secretary of the EOG and Mark Held its president.