Dear Outdoor Industry Colleagues,
As 2021 comes to a close, I want to extend my deep gratitude to you—our members, partners, and industry peers who are united by a love of the outdoors and the outdoor industry. Together, we are navigating COVID-19 and ensuring the outdoors and our outdoor businesses thrive through our work on outdoor recreation and trade policy, sustainable business innovation, and outdoor equity and participation.
New research from our team—including the 2021 Outdoor Participation Trends Report, a special report on the new outdoor participant, and our holiday season purchasing behavior special report—provides an unprecedented look into how Americans’ relationship with the outdoors has shifted. Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, more Americans have turned to the outdoors for their health and recreation than ever recorded, some for the first time and others for the first time in many years. These new participants are likely to be female, young, living in an urban area, and more diverse.
This new data shows that our industry has an incredible opportunity to be inclusive and grow the outdoor economy, while expanding and diversifying our partnerships that amplify the importance of advocacy to protect our public lands and waters and tackle the impacts of a changing climate.
On the advocacy front, we galvanized policymakers and our members to promote policies and programs that create jobs, invest in recreation infrastructure, support predictable and balanced trade, and foster responsible recreation, protection, and care for our natural resources and our environment. In November, I joined President Joe Biden and a group of bipartisan lawmakers and business leaders at the signing of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which includes significant funding for outdoor recreation.
We are grateful that the outdoor industry has a seat at the table during this process and thankful that our voices were heard. The Summit in Washington, D.C., planned for May of 2022, will build upon OIA’s 2021 momentum with more opportunities for advocacy and engagement. This event will convene outdoor business executives, community partners, and policymakers to collaborate and commit to act on the most pressing issues—and greatest opportunities—affecting our industry: climate change, inclusion, and outdoor equity, with an intentional focus on their intersections within the outdoor economy.
OIA members also made major strides to address the climate crisis. The OIA Climate Action Corps, a collaborative group of 100 outdoor industry businesses working to accelerate science-based climate action and influence policy, set a bold aspiration to become the world’s first climate positive industry by 2030. This new goal seeks to aggressively reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions associated with outdoor gear and to harness the power of nature to remove more carbon than its members emit. The Corps also released its year-one progress report, demonstrating accountability toward our shared industry-wide climate positive goal and emphasizing progress over perfection. As we close out the year, OIA is helping Corps members collaborate to implement renewable energy in the U.S. and across our shared supply chains, in addition to other collaborations.
The Outdoor Foundation announced its second cohort of Thrive Outside Communities, welcoming the communities of Maine, Philadelphia, St. Louis, and the Twin Cities region to the Thrive Outside family. This expansion of communities is possible through the generous donations of OIA members. Outdoorists and community partners across the country celebrated National Thrive Outside Day, with inclusive and accessible outdoor programming and engagement opportunities in our eight Thrive Outside Communities.
As we look to the New Year and the work ahead, it’s clear that a strong and well-supported trade association is critical to accomplishing our shared goals. Thank you to those who stepped up to Leadership- and Support-level membership during the past year.
Our work continues, and we urge you to join us for what’s next. I hope to see you at Outdoor Retailer Snow Show next month, where OIA will host live education sessions designed to inform and enlighten, as well as illustrate how you can get engaged in this work in 2022.
Together We Are a Force,
OIA Executive Director