Monday 29 May 2023, 14:00

A tournament embracing sustainability for Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand

  • New sustainability measures to feature at FIFA Women’s World Cup Australia & New Zealand 2023™

  • Tournament sustainability focus is primarily on accessibility, environment, human rights, and safeguarding

  • FIFA ready to share learnings with other major sporting events bound for Asia-Pacific

The FIFA Women’s World Cup Australia & New Zealand 2023™ is set to introduce new ways to be sustainable, inclusive and to improve the benchmark for major sporting events held in Australia, Aotearoa New Zealand, and Asia-Pacific. Since the FIFA World Cup™ in Brazil 2014, FIFA has had a strong focus and awareness on the importance of sustainability, recognising it is an integral part of any major tournament, starting with the bidding stage and based on a comprehensive set of sustainability requirements for tournament hosts. Australia & Aotearoa New Zealand 2023’s sustainability focus is on four key areas, namely accessibility, environment, human rights, and safeguarding. The tournament’s sustainability programme is wide-ranging, with several fresh initiatives. “We have an incredible opportunity to leverage the visibility and interest of the women’s game to shine the spotlight on accessibility, environment, human rights, and safeguarding, and a responsibility to ensure our tournament minimises the negative and maximises the positive impact it has on people, society, the economy and the environment,” said Federico Addiechi, FIFA Head of Sustainability & Environment.

Host Stadiums - FIFA Women's World Cup Australia & New Zealand 2023

Asia-Pacific will host a multitude of major sporting tournaments over the next decade, leading all the way to the 2032 Olympic Games in Brisbane – an event that features both men’s and women’s football. “We are well aware that we are one of the first of many international events locally, and we really want to make sure that what we do is improving, advancing, and planting seeds of ideas and actions,” said Sheila Nguyen, the tournament’s Head of Sustainability for Australia & Aotearoa New Zealand. “We evaluate every idea and, if it is a first and an improvement, we want to do it. Even if it is small, it opens a door, which paves the way for others to follow suit. We can then share those learnings to other events coming down the line.”

One area of innovation for the tournament is in Human Rights, where there have been important strides in several areas of inclusion. A critical part of this work are efforts to ensure meaningful engagement and inclusion of First Nations and Māori people in the event preparation and operation. To that effect, a cultural panel has been established, while cultural engagement experts have been appointed to support engagement with culturally & linguistically diverse communities. Fans and viewers can expect to see acknowledgement of First Nations & Māori communities throughout the tournament. “First Nations & Māori culture will be prominently represented through ceremonies at the tournament, while both cultures have been embedded into the tournament branding. With that same aim, traditional place names feature for Host Cities, which recognises both nations’ indigenous cultures,” said Nguyen.

FIFA’s continued commitment to fighting all forms of discrimination and promoting welcoming inclusivity will help to ensure everyone enjoys the tournament. FIFA Head of Human Rights & Anti-Discrimination, Andreas Graf, added: “Our human rights programme is informed by an assessment conducted jointly by the National Human Rights Commissions of Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand and involves targeted measures across a range of areas to promote a safe and inclusive tournament environment for fans and ensure workers’ rights are protected.

"The measures taken to engage with and celebrate indigenous communities will break new ground and can generate valuable learnings for future tournaments, including the men’s FIFA World Cup in Canada, Mexico, and the United States in 2026.”

Another major step forward is in the delivery of Safeguarding support systems. 2023 will be the first time a full-scale safeguarding programme is deployed at a Women’s World Cup. “This is a complex area as it involves all nine Host Cities, each of which have their own varying government, community and professional services responding in their own unique ways,” said Nguyen. “It is complex but an important opportunity to focus on making sports safe for everyone, not just children. So, across the board, we are trying to uplift the sustainability standard in which the tournament is delivered. “We are aware that there will be 1.5 million attendees at the stadiums and billions of TV viewers, so we honour the opportunity and want to leverage it well.”

Accessibility will be another area where fans may notice a high level of focus. There is a strong consideration of stadium accessibility for disabled persons and persons with limited mobility, including accessible services such as audio descriptive commentary for partially sighted and blind supporters which will be available at selected matches. Environment will focus on two primary areas: emissions and materials. “From a materials point-of-view, that commences at the procurement stage and that means we assess what we are bringing into the tournament and building in ways to maximise landfill diversion and minimise contamination,” said Nguyen. “From an emissions perspective, FIFA has committed to the UNFCCC Sports for Climate Action Framework. This has two major timeline targets, namely 50 per cent reduction in emissions by 2030 and net zero by 2040. “One of the key activities at this tournament has been facilitating and supporting all ten match stadiums to achieve green building certification for their operations.”