Practical approaches to biodiversity conservation through sport
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Image by Frank Appiah Kusi
The growing global population poses an unprecedented challenge to our environment due to human activity, and this could even further worsen, as the world population is projected to hit 9.7 billion by 2050.

This is a concern, as we all need nature to provide us with food, shelter, water, and life, in as much as quality time spent in nature, such as engaging in outdoor sporting activities, can considerably boost our health and overall wellbeing. 

I share similar sentiments with Inger Andersen, director-general of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), who was quoted in an IUCN report as saying, “The sports industry also needs nature. Whether it is skating, sailing, mountain climbing or cycling, sports activities depend on a healthy environment.”

Furthermore, Christophe de Kepper, director-general of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), was quoted in the same IUCN report as saying: “Sports take place in all kinds of environments, from marine and natural wetlands, to urban parklands, forests, mountains, and even deserts. In all these situations, sport has a strong connection with biodiversity.”

Indeed, sport will always have some interactions and engagements with biodiversity, and it is of the utmost essence and importance that our environment is carefully managed to serve as a safe place for sporting and physical activities, hence the proposition on practical approaches to biodiversity conservation to protect our environment through sport.

It is, however, an undeniable fact that sport and biodiversity conservation discourses have improved in areas of stadium construction and its impact, fan engagement and littering, emissions through transportation of sporting goods and staff, and athlete activities, among others. 

This article focuses on grassroots approaches, particularly at basic school levels, in protecting our environment through sport.

Biodiversity conservation

According to the Convention on Biological Diversity stated in the IUCN report, biodiversity or biological diversity is defined as “variability among living organisms from all sources, including, inter alia, terrestrial, marine, and other aquatic ecosystems”. 

Biodiversity conservation, according to the United States Mission to International Organisations in Geneva, is “the practice of protecting and preserving the wealth and the variety of species, habitats, ecosystems, and genetic diversity on the planet, which is essential to our health, prosperity, nourishment, energy, and services we depend on” 

Practical approaches

In an article published in sportanddev, titled ‘Practical approaches to sport and physical activity in public schools’, the authors proposed an ‘Active Schools’ Programme’ (ASP) as “a holistic approach to physical activity in public schools that encompasses managerial, creativity, sustainability, and innovations, as well as operational effectiveness”. 

Thus, the proposition in the article is hinged on the ASP, but in a different dimension where sport can be used to protect our environment.

In the ASP, the authors proposed that “all public schools must have a sustainable and cost-effective recreational or sporting park, with basic equipment, such as sport disc cones, sport marker cones, agility ladders, sport ring ladders, step boards, and portable goalposts, among others”.

Taking this into account, contribution and protection of the environment where sport takes place, should consider re-using disposables (waste), which negatively impact the environment, to design (prototype) equipment proposed in the ASP.

For instance, disposed plastic bottles should be re-used to make sport disc cones, step boards, portable goalposts, and sport ring ladders, among others, to minimise pollutants in the environment.

Again, motivation and inspiration on the part of physical activity actors, particularly within basic schools, should foster the advancement of culture and the arts by engaging pupils to model and design artefacts such as necklaces, bracelets, bags, and mugs, from disposables in the environment, which can then be presented to winners in sporting events. 

Furthermore, seats for sporting participants and fans at the basic schools should be made of these disposables to further minimise pollutants in our environment.

In addition, education and awareness creation on biodiversity should be further enhanced in the schools’ curricula to complement the action being taken. Most importantly, education on ‘open defecation’, indiscriminate burning within communities, cleaning of choked gutters, sorting of waste products in the kitchen, such as the use of dustbins, should be addressed during the building and designing of the artefacts and also in the classrooms.

Government and actors within the sport ecosystem should champion biodiversity and environment campaigns as part of Olympism and the Olympic movement through member associations of the IOC, FIFA, and World Athletics, among others, to create more awareness on a safe planet for sport.

In conclusion, it is worth noting the efforts by sport organisations and actors within sport, in combating environmental issues on biodiversity conservation. 

However, with the growing global population and the increase in human activities, we reiterate the need to protect our environment, particularly through sport, to give humanity a safe, comfortable and convenient place to live.


About the author

Frank Appiah Kusi is an assistant lecturer in Sport Management at the School of Sports and Exercise Medicine of University of Health and Allied Sciences, Ho, Ghana. Appiah Kusi is also a PhD student at the Graduate School of Business and Management of the Philippine Christian University, in Manila, the Philippines.


Assistant Lecturer in Sport Management
University of Health and Allied Sciences, Ho, Ghana


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