Sunday 17 September 2023, 16:30

Head of Sustainability reaffirms FIFA’s commitment to tackling “ambitious goals”

  • Federico Addiechi says FIFA will tackle current and future sustainability challenges “with humility, but decisively”

  • Tells WTO Public Forum 2023 of positive steps, but “journey is certainly not at its end”

  • Tournament lessons have led to strengthened sustainability requirements in host bidding process for FIFA events

FIFA’s Head of Sustainability has reiterated the determination of world football’s governing body to pursue its goals in making the beautiful game more sustainable, but Federico Addiechi also noted it is ”a long journey." Speaking at the World Trade Organisation's (WTO) Public Forum 2023 in Geneva, Switzerland, Mr. Addiechi highlighted the progress that has been made at recent FIFA tournaments and the increasing number of sustainability requirements stitched into the bidding process to host them. However, despite the positive developments, Mr. Addiechi also warned there is much work still to be done with FIFA aiming to achieve a 50% reduction in carbon emissions by 2030 and reach net zero by 2040 in accordance with the FIFA Climate Strategy, adopted in 2021 and aligned with the United Nations' Sports for Climate Action Framework.

"The journey is certainly not at its end. When you speak about sustainability, you're never there where you would like to be or should be. We're still on that journey," he told the 'Sport, Trade and Sustainability' seminar at the event. "The effects of climate change are going to be felt by our sport and society for a long time. As football’s world governing body, we have a dual responsibility: to make our sport more climate resilient in order to cope with the effects of climate change and to work towards reducing the negative environmental impact of our activities. This is anchored in our FIFA Climate Strategy. It is going to be very challenging to reduce our carbon emissions by 50% by 2030, but this is a commitment FIFA has made and something that, in face of the magnitude of the climate challenge, we are tackling with humility, but decisively.” Host candidates for both the 2018 and 2022 FIFA World Cups™ already had to integrate a number of sustainability requirements, notably green building certification of venues. That was an innovation required of potential host nations following its voluntary implementation for the FIFA World Cup 2014™️ in Brazil.

Speaking about FIFA’s sustainability journey, Mr. Addiechi noted that the recent FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ built on the vast experience in the field of sustainability of mega sport events that the organisation developed over the years. The tournament’s very ambitious sustainability strategy enabled the organisers to hit major sustainability targets in areas such as energy consumption reduction, waste management and recycling inside the stadiums and sustainable certification of stadiums’ design, construction and operations. "We achieved recycling and composting goals that were unthinkable before in Qatar. The FIFA World Cup reached 77% of waste recycled, reused, or composted, which - when compared to the average percentage of recycling in the country - is a huge development. Mr. Addiechi also highlighted other "positive legacies of the World Cup 2022", such as the accessibility programme for the tournament, which had been warmly received by disabled fans and supporters with limited mobility, while the grievance mechanism established to facilitate reporting of non-compliance issues regarding human and workers' rights was another innovation now woven into FIFA's standard requirements for future hosts. "As part of our sustainability journey, the positive results obtained during the implementation of the strategy in the lead up to Qatar 2022 prompted new developments and requirements for the following FIFA World Cups. Every FIFA tournament is for us a great opportunity to improve from the past and learn for the future.”