Wednesday 06 April 2022, 08:00

Sustainability and peace unite through Sport

  • This year’s IDSDP theme is “Securing a Sustainable and Peaceful Future for All: The Contribution of Sport”

  • The UN has focused on the role of sport to address the climate crisis

  • FIFA is taking the lead through several commitments to tackle climate change

Sport has the power to change the world, strengthen social ties and promote sustainable development and peace, as well as solidarity and respect for all. For this reason, in 2013, the United Nations General Assembly declared the annual commemoration of the International Day of Sport for Development and Peace (IDSDP) on 6 April, the same date on which the first Olympic Games in Athens were inaugurated in 1896. The global theme for IDSDP 2022 is “Securing a Sustainable and Peaceful Future for All: The Contribution of Sport”, and the United Nations (UN) has focused this year on the role of sport to address the climate crisis, highlighting “actions to lower greenhouse gas emissions and mitigate against climate change”.

In 2016, FIFA was the first sport federation to join the UN Sports for Climate Action Framework, which aims to gather sports federations, organisations, teams, athletes and fans in a concerted effort to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement. This commitment has translated into concrete actions to protect our planet, in particular around FIFA’s flagship events. FIFA measured, took steps to reduce, and then offset, the unavoidable greenhouse gas emissions related to the FIFA World Cup Brazil 2014™ and FIFA World Cup Russia 2018™ tournaments, and will do so for the upcoming edition in Qatar later this year. Indeed, FIFA and Qatar have pledged to deliver a fully carbon-neutral FIFA World Cup tournament in 2022 and aim to set a benchmark for environmental stewardship in the region. FIFA has also committed to a wide-ranging series of measures and agreements, harnessing the immense power of football to advance sustainable development and, particularly, to tackle climate change.

In November 2021, FIFA committed during the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) to net-zero emissions by 2040, also launching the FIFA Climate Strategy, which includes concrete initiatives to: ● educate the global football workforce on climate-related impacts and climate-friendly solutions; ● adapt football regulations and activities to be more resilient to current and anticipated impacts of climate change; ● reduce the carbon emissions of FIFA and football to contribute to the Paris Agreement and the UNFCCC Sports for Climate Action Framework objectives; and ● invest in climate protection and support football stakeholders with access to know-how to tackle the impacts of climate change. More recently, on 1 April 2022, FIFA and the Pacific Islands Forum signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU), on the sidelines of the 72nd FIFA Congress in Doha, committing to working together to enhance awareness of climate change mitigation action to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, and leverage opportunities for climate-resilient football development in the Blue Pacific region.

The latest FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ Sustainability Progress Report also shows the positive results of the organisation’s performance regarding tournament sustainability efforts, such as the first voluntary carbon-offsetting programme in the region and the achievement of at least GSAS-4-star sustainability rating in five stadiums for design and build.

FIFA celebrates IDSDP, constantly striving to fulfil its commitment to fighting climate change through football. In the words of FIFA President Gianni Infantino: “It is our responsibility to leverage the power and popularity of our sport to tackle this vital topic at such a critical moment in our history." More broadly, as the FIFA President stated during his speech at the recent FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ Final Draw, “Today, and in these times, we face some turbulence around the world. Our world is aggressive, and we need occasions to bring people together in peace and to celebrate: the World Cup will be exactly that. “Our plea, the plea of the world football community to all the leaders and all the people of the world is: stop the conflicts and the wars, please.” The message remains a crucial one, not only for the International Day of Sport for Development and Peace, but for every day.