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Sustainable innovation in sport and development

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Sustainable innovation in sport and development

The Sustainable Innovation in Sport Conference will discuss how professional sport can reduce its carbon footprint. But how can sustainable innovation help drive grassroots development projects?

The Sustainable Innovation in Sport Conference will discuss how professional sport can reduce its carbon footprint. But how can sustainable innovation be used in grassroots development projects? is attending the Sustainable Innovation in Sport 2017 Conference, organised by Climate Action, on 22-23 February, in Munich. The event is an opportunity for key sports industry stakeholders to focus on the impact this business has on the environment and identify positive actions to foster more sustainable behaviour in professional sport. However, sustainable innovation isn’t restricted to the business of sport; it is also an objective for many projects in developing countries.

Let’s take a closer look at three promising projects in Kenya, a country which is becoming a leader in renewable energy in Africa. According to a UNEP (United Nations Environment Programme) spokesman, “Kenya could become a zero-emission economy in the field of electricity generation over the coming years”.

Playing football at night

In Nairobi’s Mathari slum, there is a unique solar-power lit football pitch where players of any age or level can practice at night in a safe environment and comfortable playing conditions. Created in 2008 with the support of FIFA, this project has benefited the people of the neighbourhood by giving them the possibility to train and play football at night. This allows them to avoid the burning heat of the daytime and the unsafe streets of Nairobi at night. The Mathare Youth Sports Association (MYSA) also runs HIV/AIDS education programmes and organises clean-ups in the area to prevent disease spreading.

Peace, food security and football training thanks to water harvesting school

Since 2014, the Cameroonian football legend Samuel Eto’o has funded a football academy, school and environmental education centre in Laikipia. Designed by PITCHAfrica, the school is the only football academy in East Africa and hosts a rainwater tank harvesting more than 2 million litres of water annually. It fulfils the water needs of over 50,000 people in this semi-arid region, providing a year round supply of clean drinking water for the students. It also allows the communities to cultivate the land in the surrounding areas with an innovative irrigation system, contributing to better nutrition for local children. The water collected is at the heart of the community, providing a sustainable solution to one of the greatest problems of our time.

Bicycles to transform women’s lives

GlobalBike and TATU project opened a bike rental business in 2006 and distributed bicycles in Kenya and Tanzania to contribute to improving the lives of girls and women in the region around Mt. Kilimanjaro. “We have seen […] how bikes can give support and momentum to a person’s life,” says Globalstrike cofounder, Curt McPhail. This project has improved access to water, education and health services for the bike users by reducing the time needed to travel. It has also allowed women to earn more by managing the rental shop and therefore supports their children’s education, health and nutrition.

These examples  show how sport and sustainable innovations can promote and contribute to development in disadvantaged areas, transforming the lives of thousands.


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Giovanna del Drago


Tuesday, February 21, 2017 - 18:31

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