International Sports Federations celebrate biodiversity on World Environment Day
On this year’s United Nations’ World Environment Day, International Sports Federations (IFs) demonstrated their commitment to protecting biodiversity and promoting awareness for pressing environmental issues.
The focus of this year’s day was the celebration of biodiversity, which is vital for our planet’s ecosystems, and many IFs took the opportunity to illustrate their ongoing work in furthering sustainable sport.
“Sport has an unparalleled platform to raise awareness amongst a vast community, so it is only right that sport honours World Environment Day,” GAISF President Raffaele Chiulli said. “To see the tremendous progress our Members have made towards sustainable sport makes me immensely proud, and I know that, united, we can make a lasting and positive impact on protecting our planet’s biodiversity.”
World Rowing’s Athletes’ Commission announced its support for the Big Plastic Pledge, an athlete- driven movement initiated by Olympian Hannah Mills, which aims to harness the power and reach of sport to eradicate single-use plastic in sport. As part of the pledge, which is also supported by the International Olympic Committee (IOC), Norwegian rower Martin Helseth committed to cleaning up five tonnes of waste on Norwegian shores.
Meanwhile, the International World Games Association (IWGA) and World Bowling became the latest IFs to join the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Sports for Climate Action Framework, which unites sports organisations behind taking responsibility for their climate footprint. Co-created by UN Climate Change and the IOC, and supported by GAISF, the Framework sets out five principles to guide organisations in the pursuit of their climate change goals. The World Games and the IWGA have always had sustainability as a core value, and becoming a signatory to the Framework will be a positive force for the 2022 World Games in Birmingham, Alabama, USA from 7-17 July 2022. In the case of World Bowling, joining the Framework is an example of the IF striving towards promoting bowling as one of the world’s most environmentally friendly sports.
The International Climbing and Mountaineering Federation (UIAA) Mountain Protection Commission held its annual meeting at the end of May 2020. The Commission has been at the forefront of the UIAA’s commitment to sustainability, one of its three key guiding pillars, for over half a century. During the meeting, the Commission reiterated its commitment to the Sustainable Summits 2020 Committee to ensure that mountain recovery is part of the world’s post-COVID-19 recovery.
Sustainable Summits 2020: A post Covid view from the top – powerful messages from mountain leaders
The UIAA Mountain Protection Commission is contributing to the SS 2020 Committee to ensure that mountain protection is part of the post-COVID recovery.https://t.co/1auTJvjZJ2
— UIAA (@UIAAmountains) June 5, 2020
Meanwhile, World Athletics published an interview with 2018 World Athlete of the Year Caterine Ibarguen of Colombia to gain her perspective on environmental conservation. Ibarguen spoke about the importance of the three Rs – reduce, reuse and recycle – when travelling internationally, and finished with a powerful message: “Respecting the environment is respecting yourself and your family.”
The Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) took a deeper dive into the environmentally friendly transport method that is the heart and soul of its sport, the bicycle. The IF focused specifically on the proliferation of pop-up bike lanes in cities across the globe to facilitate the rapid uptake of cycling during the global coronavirus crisis.
Many IFs reflected on past milestones achieved in their sustainability journeys, demonstrating the considerable progress that has been made by sport in this regard. The Union Internationale de Pentathlon Moderne (UIPM) marked World Environment Day by commemorating a decade since the introduction of laser shooting to replace lead pellets and bullets in competitions. This significant change has proven far less damaging to our environment, with an annual saving of 25 tonnes of lead. In addition, the International Federation of Football Association (FIFA), the International Floorball Federation (IFF) and the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) marked the day on social media and published web stories to reflect on the past work that has been done to promote sustainability through the power of sport. Both the International Equestrian Federation (FEI) and the International Fencing Federation (FIE) promoted videos via their respective social media channels on the ways they have supported sustainable sport.
The International Sambo Federation (FIAS) honoured the day by educating its members on the environmental issues that can impact biodiversity and what can be done to help protect it, such as supporting local farmers, using sustainable transport methods and recycling. The IF also promoted its ongoing cooperation agreement with the Amur Tiger Centre, founded in 2013 for the conservation and study of the Amur tiger, which has seen both organisations united in their efforts to develop sambo and increase the population of the Amur tiger.
Social media was also used effectively by IFs to promote key messages on biodiversity and sustainability. For instance, the International School Sport Federation (ISF) tweeted about the importance of school sport to teach youth about keeping our environment safe and clean.
ISF events & #SchoolSport always include educational activities on raising environmental & #SustainableDevelopment 🌲🌿 awareness.#Education through #Sport is a great way to teach #youth about keeping the environment safe & clean. 🚴♂️🚶🏾♂️#WorldEnvironmentDay pic.twitter.com/6NbkBEemmt
— @isfsports (@ISFsports) June 5, 2020
The International Automobile Federation (FIA) President Jean Todt expressed the FIA’s commitment to global environmental protection, noting the creation of the FIA Formula E Championship and the establishment of an Environment and Sustainability Commission. Meanwhile, the Fédération Internationale de Motocyclisme (FIM) combined World Environment Day with engaging social media content to educate the sports community with a quiz on biodiversity.
📝 Take the QUIZ!
How much do you know about biodiversity❓
Put your knowledge to the test until Monday 8 June 22:00 CEST.https://t.co/Fc3ToutRUA#ForNature #FIMRideGreen #WorldEnvironmentDay pic.twitter.com/G8Kq1Lmdtf
— FIM (@FIM_live) June 5, 2020
Finally, World Rugby invited the global rugby family to celebrate and raise their collective voice for nature on social media. Last year, the IF joined the Sports for Climate Action Framework, and has worked in close collaboration with the sports community to drive climate awareness and action. For example, World Rugby House in Dublin is an energy efficient workplace with smart lighting and heating systems, recycling stations and cycle-to-work facilities.
To learn more about the importance of our planet’s biodiversity, please read the following statement from the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Acting Director General Dr Grethel Aguilar: https://www.iucn.org/news/secretariat/202006/iucn-acting-director-generals-statement-world-environment-day.