It’s Great Out There Coalition enters ambitious new era after special meeting
The It’s Great Out There Coalition has begun a new era following a successful extraordinary general assembly this week. At the meeting, which was held online, members approved changes to the constitution that allowed for the incorporation into the coalition of UK-based initiative Opening Up the Outdoors. During the assembly, a new coalition board was also appointed that will lead the next phase of the organisation’s work on the #itsgreatoutthere campaign to get more people in Europe active in the outdoors.
Founded in 2017, the It’s Great Out There Coalition (IGOT) is an International Non Profit Association (INPA), registered in Brussels, and set up and launched by the European Outdoor Group (EOG). Run by an executive team and non-executive board, the coalition promotes outdoor participation to the general public, focusing on engaging with new and diverse groups. IGOT also represents the sector in discussions with policy makers, seeking to secure European funding for key community-led projects that encourage and actively assist more people to engage in outdoor activities, responsibly and sustainably. The coalition uses its Outdoor Activity Days (OAD) model to align projects that it supports with official World Health Organization activity guidelines, quantifying and qualifying every intervention and investment.
Opening Up the Outdoors (OUTO) is a UK initiative, founded by outdoor brands, experts, and organisations, that is committed to breaking down the barriers to inclusivity, and supporting the changemakers, across Europe, who are doing the work to make the outdoors a safe and welcoming space for everyone. Conceived in 2021 as a response to systemic racism, anti-Asian sentiment and in support of the Black Lives Matter movement, OUTO envisions an outdoor community and industry that is truly diverse, equitable, anti-racist and accessible to all.
Incorporating Opening Up the Outdoors into IGOT will allow OUTO to scale up its work beyond the UK, benefiting from an established governance structure and the clear synergies between the two organisations. The formal proposals to allow the change to happen were presented to IGOT members at an extraordinary general assembly (EGA) this week and received unanimous support.
During the EGA, IGOT members also approved changes to the coalition governance structure, which as well as the general assembly and board of directors, will now include two councils – the IGOT Council and OUTO Council. Outgoing IGOT president, Jan Van Leeuwen of The North Face, was succeeded by Andy Schimeck of Equip Outdoor Technologies. Journalist and OUTO founder Keme Nzerem was appointed vice president and Michel Gogniat of Ternua was re-appointed as treasurer.
Other continuing board members are Arne Strate, general secretary of the European Outdoor Group and Andrew Denton, CEO of the Outdoor Industries Association, who has stepped down from his role as secretary general of IGOT. In addition, Louise Brierley-Ingham of Patagonia has joined the board, along with Amanda Calder-McLaren of The North Face, as chair of the new OUTO Council within the structure. A chair for the IGOT Council will be elected at IGOT’s next regular general assembly in the first quarter of 2023 and potential candidates are invited to come forward to the coalition. That meeting will also appoint additional brand and community representatives to the IGOT Board and OUTO Council. On a day-to-day basis, IGOT policy officer Margo de Lange will step up to the role of secretary general, with administrative and marketing communications support from functional experts.
Margo de Lange comments: “These are exciting times for the It’s Great Out There Coalition. We are embarking on a bold new phase of our work and as has always been the case, that’s only possible with the support of our board and our members. We are very grateful to Jan Van Leeuwen for his input in recent years, and to Andrew Denton, who has led the organisation as secretary general from day one. I am delighted that Andrew will remain on the coalition board and look forward to working with him and other colleagues as we continue to build and expand the #itsgreatoutthere campaign.
“Incorporating Opening Up the Outdoors into the It’s Great Out There Coalition will allow us both to reach more key target groups and individuals, and help them to get active in nature. The vision, passion and drive demonstrated by Keme and the team is inspirational – together, our two organisations can make a big difference throughout Europe.”
Keme Nzerem adds: “Spending quality time in the great outdoors is a right that everyone should be able to enjoy, but ever since I began hiking, mountain biking and skiing I've often been one of the only Black or Brown faces on the trail (or piste). For a multitude of reasons, many of us miss out on the joys, thrills and spills of outdoor sport and adventure. Opening Up the Outdoors will change that and within the structure of the It’s Great Out There Coalition, we can do so for more people in more parts of the UK and Europe. It’s an exciting prospect.”
For more information about the It’s Great Out There Coalition, visit www.itsgreatoutthere.com.
To find out more about Opening Up the Outdoors, visit https://openinguptheoutdoors.com.