News | 20 Sep, 2023

Sports set to contribute to global goals for nature

New York, USA – On the sidelines of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) Summit, Sports for Nature partners called on sports organisations to champion nature and contribute to the global goals for biodiversity and sustainable development.

“Combining sport and respect for nature is for me not only evident but an essential responsibility to assume,” said H.S.H. Albert II of Monaco, an IUCN Patron of Nature, Olympian and Chair of the IOC Sustainability and Legacy Commission. We need to harness everyone’s energy, and continue to do so even more, so evident is the environmental crisis and so tragic its consequences.”

The Sports for Nature partners launched the Sports for Nature Framework late last year at the UN Biodiversity conference in Montreal and today there are 40 sports organizations – of all sizes from around the world – that have committed to take measurable action for nature.   The Framework has four principles that signatories agree to: protect nature, restore nature, green their supply chains and raise awareness.

Developed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), International Olympic Committee (IOC), United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), and supported by Sails of Change, the Sports for Nature Framework, is helping sports deliver significant action for nature by 2030 and beyond.

“I see this as a powerful contribution to the 2030 Sustainability Agenda,” added H.S.H. Albert II of Monaco. “Creating stronger ties and cooperation between sectors is vital for reaching global goals of preservation of nature and biodiversity.” 

H.E. Razan al Mubarak, the High-Level Climate Champion for COP28 and IUCN’s President, said: Let us recognise that sports, nature, and climate are intertwined in a delicate state of play. As we strive to address the challenges facing the world, let us embrace the power of sports not only to mitigate its negative impacts but also let us embrace sports to restore and champion nature and enhance the health and wellbeing of people around the world.

Adding her voice Dona Bertarelli, an accomplished sailor, philanthropist and co-founder of Sails of Change, said: “As an accomplished sailor, I have seen first-hand the dark side of our passion. I have witnessed a once teeming ocean grow silent, its biodiversity declining alarmingly. I've sailed through waters polluted by human activities and seen the undeniable fingerprints of climate change on marine ecosystems.

“Sports for Nature aims to harness the power of sports to protect the nature it depends on as well as the communities where it plays. Through this unique partnership, supported by Sails of Change, sports organizations have a pathway to contribute to local and global goals for nature. By joining this initiative, they can also access scientific guidance and tools to help them advance their sustainability journey."

The National Olympic Committee of Costa Rica and the International Ski and Snowboard Federation are the latest sports organizations to come on board as a signatory to the Sports for Nature Framework, following other recent announcements by the Brazil Olympic Committee, German Bundesliga Club VfL Wolfsburg and the Israeli Water Polo Federation. 

“Just like in sport, team-work is essential to address today’s sustainability challenges, including the climate and biodiversity crises,” said Marie Sallois, IOC Director for Sustainability. “At the IOC, we are proud to have been able to bring together the key players in nature conservation IUCN, UNEP and CBD, supported by Sails of Change, to jointly develop the Sport for Nature Framework. We look forward to working together on its implementation, ensuring sport is part of the solution.” 

UN Patron of the Oceans and endurance swimmer Lewis Pugh, who participated in the event after swimming 315 miles down the Hudson River to arrive in New York, added: “Swimming in the ocean is more than just a sport for me. It's a way of telling a powerful story about what is happening to our planet. As athletes, especially those of us who use oceans and rivers, we have a duty to be their guardians. If we don't, who will?"

At the Goals House event, the Sports for Nature logo was previewed. This will be made available to sports signatories reporting on their annual progress. These accumulated results will then be reported to the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity, as a contribution to the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework, which was approved by more than 100 countries in December 2022.

“The Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework requires a whole-of-society approach.  Sports for Nature is an incredible example of how each of us – each industry, each group, each person – has a role to play in building a sustainable future. Sports for Nature is working to ensure that we have nature for sports in that future and for that, I commend them,” said Dr David Cooper, Acting Executive Secretary of the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity.     

Any sports organization interested in joining the Sports for Nature Framework and this growing community of sports committed to advancing their sustainable sport practices,  information is available on the IUCN website at: Sports for Nature | IUCN

Group photo caption at top (left to right): David Ainsworth, Head of Communications, Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity / Bruno Pozzi, Deputy Director, Ecosystem Division, UN Environment Programme / H.E. Chrysoula Zacharopoulou, Minister of State for Development, Francophonie and International Partnerships, France / Dona Bertarelli, an accomplished sailor, philanthropist, IUCN Patron of Nature and co-founder of Sails of Change / H.E. Razan Khalifa Al Mubarak, UN Climate Change High-Level Champion for COP28 and IUCN President / H.S.H. Albert II, Sovereign Prince of Monaco / Marie Sallois, Sustainability Director, International Olympic Committee / Annie Horn, Director, Social Responsibility, National Basketball Association / Norman Vossschulte, Director of Fan Experience & Sustainability, Philadelphia Eagles.