Meet the UCI, official supporter of the Air Quality & Sport Challenge

March 18, 2022

The Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI), the world governing body for the sport of cycling bringing together 201 National Federations, is an official supporter of the Air Quality & Sport Challenge, organised by ThinkSport, together with the Sustainable Sport Lab (SSL) and the SustainableMountain Alliance (SMA). The aim of the Challenge: generating innovative and impactful solutions to address the pressing issue of air quality in sporting environments.

UCI Director General Amina Lanaya explains the International Federation’s “natural and keen” interest in this Challenge: “First, it’s the UCI’s vision to make cycling one of the world’s most sustainable sports and promote the bicycle as a key transport mode in combating climate change, improving population health and building a more sustainable future for all. Second, we are concerned about cyclists, elite and recreational, who can be exposed to poor air quality and the related health and performance implications.

Cycling represents one of the planet’s great hopes to shift humanity towards lower or zero-carbon methods of transport and address some of the greatest threats to humanity: climate change, air pollution and premature death from inactivity. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), nine out of 10 people breathe dirty air, responsible for over seven million premature deaths per year. Changing how we move people and goods towards non-polluting modes of transport is essential if we wish to breathe easier and stay healthy. Hundreds of millions of bike trips, including e-cargo bikes delivering goods, can discourage the use of polluting vehicles and curb air pollution for the benefit of people and the environment.

Last year, the UCI launched an ambitious sustainability strategy outlining targets and actions for the International Federation to be delivered through to 2030, upholding its commitment to the five principles of the UN Sports for Climate Action Framework, which it signed in 2020.

In addition, the UCI keeps leveraging the value of partnerships, which is also at the heart of the Air Quality & Sport Challenge. In order to promote active mobility, it collaborates with UN agencies, the European Cyclists’ Federation, and a number of NGOs. Most recently, the UCI joined the Air Quality working group launched by SandSI and World Athletics. Regarding the different stakeholders targeted by the Challenge, Amina Lanaya says: “We believe that such partnerships are a fantastic means to identify, develop, and promote new solutions to solve issues faced by various sports and organisations. Air quality affects all of our sports, our athletes, but also our wider communities, and such innovative challenges facilitate and speed up the development of new solutions to problems faced by different sports.

Asked what impact she expects the Challenge to have, the UCI Director General replies: “As we are always looking for examples of best practice to showcase to the wider cycling community, we hope that project proposals will include means to positively impact the promotion of active mobility and the protection of the health of our athletes.

Start-ups, established companies, not-for-profit organisations, academic, public institutions and other stakeholders have until 21 March to submit their action proposals. Learn more here.

Other prestigious supporters of the Challenge include the International Olympic Committee, Formula E, World Athletics and ENGSO.

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