SandSI & World Athletics Join Forces to lead International Air Quality Working Group for sports industry

SandSI & World Athletics

September 27, 2021

September 27th, 2021 – Sport and Sustainability International (SandSI) and World Athletics jointly announced today the creation of the Air Quality & Sport Working Group, a coalition of international sports organisations dedicated to solving air quality issues that impact global sport. This working group will be the first ‘lab’ to operate within the Sustainable Sport Lab, a programme powered by SandSI focused on exploring, experimenting, and engaging sustainable initiatives that advocates for high impact systematic change across the global sport sector.

This announcement aligns with the UN Environment Programme’s International Day for Clean Air for Blue Skies and its 2021 theme, “Healthy Air, Healthy Planet” which was celebrated earlier this month. The day was established to focus attention on the impacts of air pollution on health, particularly during the global COVID-19 pandemic, and to facilitate solutions and urge action to clean our shared air.

Partnering with SandSI and World Athletics on this global initiative are the European Sports NGO (ENGSO), ENGSO Youth, Formula E and the International Cycling Union (UCI).

Air quality represents one of a number of growing environmental issues impacting sports today. Working together, the participating organisations are committed to driving awareness about air quality issues, collaborating on resources, sharing knowledge and expertise, investing in research and coordinating with industry partners in an effort to collectively address and resolve these issues.

“We are excited to collaborate with this incredible group of organisations who share our common goal of addressing air quality issues facing sports and the world today,” said Geert Hendriks, SandSI Founding Director. “We are pleased to host this newly formed group which will operate as part of the Sustainable Sport Lab, a SandSI programme that focuses on the innovation and development of resources designed to the use of sport for the advancement of the UN Sustainable Development Goals.” 

“Air Quality is one of six key pillars of the Sustainability Strategy we outlined in 2020, something that directly impacts the 1.4 billion people around the world who run regularly,” said Bob Ramsak, Head of Sustainability for World Athletics. “We recognise that the sports industry has an important role to play in advocating for improved air quality. Partnering with our peers from other sports allows us all to both raise awareness and find solutions to air quality issues more quickly and efficiently.” 

“The UCI is delighted to join a diverse and experienced group of sports organizations as part of the new Air Quality & Sport Alliance. As the world governing body for cycling, we are convinced that the increased use of the bicycle as an everyday tool is a key solution to reduce air pollution and congestion. At the same time, we recognize the impacts of poor air quality on our sport, our teams and our riders, and are thus committed to supporting the development of solutions to air quality issues faced by both the cycling family and many other sports, through this new collaboration.” Isabella Burczak, Advocacy and Development Manager UCI

“Contributing to improvement in air quality, particularly in urban environments, is a key priority for Formula E. Our partnership with SandSI and Air Quality & Sport Alliance is an important part of how we can maximize our contribution. As a championship, we showcase alternative energy solutions and clean transport technology in partnership with leading global brands who are focussed on reducing air pollution and the impact of transport on the climate. We’re committed to sharing insight, learnings and best practice to support our common goals.” Hannah Brown, Chief Strategy & Business Development Officer Formula E

“ENGSO is honoured to become one of the organisations joining the “Air Quality & Sport Working Group”. We believe air quality and clean, healthy environments are critical issues that concern us all, and which consequently also have an effect on the quality of physical activity (and life), particularly at a grassroots level. Sport can not be a healthy endeavour, if performed in a polluted environment. Through our work in grassroots sport, we are developing policies and tools that promote health, climate action, equality, inclusion, sustainability, integrity and more. Our aim is to contribute to a better quality of life, using grassroots sport as a tool. We look forward to joining SandSI, World Athletics and other organisations in tackling the issue of air quality and ensuring citizens all over the world have access to clean, safe sport environments.“ Stefan Bergh, President European Sports NGO (ENGSO)

The impact air quality has on athletes, events, organisers and spectators has become a growing concern across the industry and across the globe in recent years. It is an issue that both affects everyone and requires the attention of everyone. The Air Quality & Sport Working group recognises this is an issue that is bigger than any one organisation and can only be addressed through industry-wide collaboration, commitment and determination. To learn more about this initiative, visit www.ssl.sport/airquality

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