International Sports Federations step up their sustainability game
The role of sport in addressing marine pollution, climate change, biodiversity loss and air quality took centre stage this week as 63 International Federations (IFs) gathered together in Lausanne, Switzerland, at an annual sustainability session, organised by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) on the back of the IF Forum 2018.
Sustainability is at the heart of the Olympic Movement’s philosophy, and it is one of the three pillars of the IOC’s strategic roadmap – Olympic Agenda 2020. As the leader of the Olympic Movement, the IOC is strongly committed to helping IFs integrate sustainability across their operations and events.
“We have come a long way since we first discussed sustainability in this setting back in 2015, and our journey has been extremely fruitful,” said Marie Sallois, IOC Director of Corporate Development, Brand and Sustainability. “Although our mission is by no means complete, there is a lot we can be proud of today. We are extremely grateful to all of you for your efforts and we are proud to support and guide you along the way.”
Elite athletes and IFs showcased ways in which they are addressing sustainability challenges, while IOC sustainability partners UN Environment, UN Climate Change and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) presented opportunities in which they can contribute further.
“I believe that there is no greater responsibility than to play our part in safeguarding the future of our planet,” said Raffaele Chiulli, President of the Global Association of International Sports Federations (GAISF). “Now it is up to us to take up the challenge and live up to our responsibility. And that starts from making our focus on sustainability part of the culture of our organisations.”
Nine Federations – the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), the International Canoe Federation (ICF), the International Fencing Federation (FIE), the International Golf Federation (IGF), the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF), World Rugby (WR), World Sailing (WS), the International Surfing Association (ISA) and the International Triathlon Union (ITU) – received certificates in recognition of their engagement in the UN-led Clean Seas campaign. The initiative, of which the IOC is a partner, aims to increase global awareness of the marine litter issue, and to implement measures that address gaps in waste management.
IOC Clean Seas ambassador and two-time canoe slalom Olympian Mike Dawson addressed the session via a video message from Angola, where he is leading an international attempt to descend Africa’s fourth largest river – the Kwanza. By doing this, he hopes to raise public awareness of the devastating impact of pollution on Angola’s, and the world’s waterways.
Other athletes, including Hannah Mills MBE, gold and silver medallist and multiple world champion in sailing; Chris Mazdzer, luge silver medallist; and Lucas di Grassi, Formula E racing driver, all shared their own experiences in tackling pollution and climate change, and took part in interactive discussions on the role of sport in driving the global sustainability agenda forward.
Representatives from the IAAF also highlighted the impact of air pollution on athletes’ health and performance. The IAAF Clean Air initiative aims to create an air quality monitoring network across all IAAF Certified Tracks around the world within five years.
“We look forward to continuing our collaboration,” concluded Marie Sallois. “After all, it is only by working hand-in-hand that we can achieve our common vision of ‘building a better world through sport.’”
The IF Forum is organised annually by GAISF.