Governments and international organisations have begun to take action on the link between sport and environmental issues.

As warnings about climate change have become starker and the impact of sport better understood, a number of national and international initiatives have emerged. Here are a few examples of policy initiatives led by governments, networks and intergovernmental organisations.

The Sport for Climate Action Framework

Launched in 2016 by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and some leading sport entities, the Sport for Climate Action Framework encourages sports organisations to reduce their environmental impact. It aims to connect different initiatives and provide systematic guidance. Signatories include clubs, national sports associations, international federations and media organisations. Sport has also become increasingly prominent at United Nations Climate Change Conferences: COP27, in Egypt in November 2022, included a panel of framework signatories. 

The Sports for Nature Framework

In December 2022, more than 20 sports organisations signed the Sports for Nature Framework. The Framework has four principles:

  1. Protect nature and avoid damage to natural habitats and species
  2. Restore and regenerate nature wherever possible
  3. Understand and reduce risks to nature in our supply chains
  4. Educate and inspire positive action for nature across and beyond sport

It was created by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the International Olympic Committee (IOC), United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), in collaboration with the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD).

United Nations Department on Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA)

In 2022, UNDESA published policy brief No. 128, “Addressing Climate Change through Sport.” Among its recommendations were that governments should set policies and incentives for making sport more sustainable, and that different sectors should collaborate on capacity building and promoting sport as a tool for climate action. 

UNDESA is also the main United Nations body responsible for coordinating International Day of Sport for Development and Peace activities. In 2023, the theme for the day was “Scoring Goals for People and Planet.”

The Commonwealth

Thirty-three of the world’s 42 small states are Commonwealth members. This makes them especially vulnerable to the effects of temperature increases, sea level rises, storms, floods and droughts. The Commonwealth has increasingly worked on addressing climate change in and through sport using partnerships, advocacy and legislation. In 2023, the 7th Commonwealth Debate on Sport and Sustainable Development focused on how “a compassionate sports sector should enable the charge for a healthy mind, body and planet.” This emphasised the role of sport in addressing climate change, as well as physical and mental health issues.   

French Ministry of Sport

In 2018, the French Ministry of Sport designed 15 pledges on sport and climate change. These included making 80% of transport to events by active mobility (e.g., walking and cycling), car sharing and public transport. More than 100 organisations, venues and committees committed to reducing their environmental impact by signing the pledges.

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This section was developed with the generous support of the Swedish Postcode Foundation.