Twenty-three sports organisations, including the International Olympic Committee (IOC) as a founding partner, and the Organising Committee for the Olympic and Paralympic Games Paris 2024, signed the first-ever Sports for Nature Framework today. The signatories pledge to adhere to four key principles that will safeguard nature and contribute to the new global goals for biodiversity, which governments are expected to agree to later this week at the Convention on Biological Diversity 15th Conference of the Parties meeting (COP15) in Montreal.
Co-created by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the IOC and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), in collaboration with the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), the Sports for Nature Framework aims to deliver transformative action for nature across sports, by 2030 and beyond.
The Framework brings together sports federations, leagues, clubs and events in a commitment to protect and avoid damage to important species and habitats, restore key ecosystems, create sustainable supply chains, and educate and inspire the wider sporting community to take action for nature.
In addition to the IOC, the founding signatories of the Framework include:
- The Organising Committee for the Olympic and Paralympic Games Paris 2024
- Spanish Olympic Committee
- Papua New Guinea Olympic Committee
- International Canoe Federation (ICF)
- International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF)
- Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI)
- World Rowing (FISA)
- World Sailing
- World Skate Federation
- International Orienteering Federation (IOF)
- International Waterski & Wakeboard Federation (IWWF)
- SAMBO International Federation (FIAS)
- World University Games (FISU)
- World Squash Federation (WSF)
- England Squash
- AlUla Sports Club
- Forest Green Rovers
- The Ocean Race
- We Play Green
- E1 Series
- Extreme E
- Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc (UTMB)
Signatories to the framework commit to developing and implementing action plans for each of the four principles, and report on their progress annually to an expert panel, who will confirm that the actions undertaken are credible and effective. On behalf of the founding partners, IUCN will lead on coordination with the signatories to the Framework and provide them with technical support, tools and training in partnership with Sails of Change Foundation, which is dedicated to the protection and regeneration of biodiversity.
“There is an urgent need to halt biodiversity loss by 2030, and everyone, including sports and recreation, must play a role. The Sports for Nature Framework is a step in the right direction. Thank you to the IOC, IUCN and UNEP for joining forces under the Convention on Biological Diversity in this ground-breaking initiative to bring action for biodiversity from sports worldwide. It is encouraging to see this level of commitment from sports federations, leagues, clubs and events, and I challenge all sports organisations to follow suit by taking urgent action for biodiversity,” said the Executive Secretary of the Convention on Biological Diversity, Elizabeth Mrema.
“The IOC believes everyone has a responsibility to care for the planet. As a founding partner of the Sports for Nature Framework, we want to help the sports community minimise any negative impacts on nature and inspire nature-positive action,” said IOC Member Tricia Smith, who was taking part in the launch. “This commitment builds on the success of the UN Sport for Climate Action Framework, and the IOC’s own efforts to address the climate and biodiversity crises: reducing emissions by half by 2030, committing to a ‘no-go’ for any permanent Olympic construction within protected areas, setting high environmental standards for our food sourcing and creating an Olympic Forest to help restore degraded land in Mali and Senegal.”
“Anyone who has taken a run in a forest or sailed on a lake knows how closely sports are connected to nature. At the same time, sports also impact nature in various ways. This Framework aims to help sports organisations understand their interactions with nature and take action to reduce negative impacts in their operations and supply chains and make an active contribution to a nature-positive future. IUCN is proud to put its expertise in service of sport to support these efforts,” said IUCN Deputy Director General Stewart Maginnis.
Susan Gardner, Ecosystems Director for UNEP, said: “Already this season, eight major winter sports events have had to be cancelled as the playing fields for sport that we used to take for granted are literally melting away. We hope that this new framework can secure support from the whole of the sporting family to take action for nature, we have no time to lose.”
Dona Bertarelli, sportswoman, philanthropist, IUCN Patron of Nature and founder of Sails of Change, said: “Sports organisers, administrators, clubs, participants, sponsors and fans are increasingly looking for sport to become a net contributor to the protection and restoration of nature. The new Sports for Nature Framework will help sports not just to mitigate their negative impacts on biodiversity, but to become nature-positive.”
“Paris 2024 is excited to join this initiative, as we believe sport can and should make a difference. Facing today’s challenges, Paris 2024 takes on its responsibilities by massively relying (95 per cent) on existing or temporary sports venues to reduce its impacts, by choosing natural settings to avoid soil sealing, and by including extended nature protection principles for all its procurement. These and other efforts towards nature protection started back in 2015, in the early conception process for the Paris Games, and are being applied across all our activities through 2024, with a strong legacy mindset,” said Paris 2024 President Tony Estanguet.
Note to editors:
More than 100 representatives from International Federations, National Olympic Committees, regional and national associations, local teams and athletes, along with experts from academia, non-government organisations, science advisors and sports sustainability consultants, provided input for the Sports for Nature Framework. This input was gathered during six formal consultations in November 2022, as well as through an online form and one-on-one consultations.
The Sports for Nature Framework is inspired by and informed by the UN-led Sports for Climate Action Framework, which was co-launched by UN Climate Change and the IOC in 2018.
As the Sports for Nature report by UNEP released in November this year highlighted, the majority of sports organisations surveyed – around 70 per cent – said they were interested in taking action for nature, as some are already doing on climate. However, they also said they needed more technical assistance and guidance on where to begin.