Nelson Mandela stated, “Sport has the power to change the world” in his famous speech at the first Laureus World Sports Awards in Monaco in 2000. Indeed, sports have played a big role in the development of many nations and in the overall world’s wellbeing by promoting the message of peace and unity.

Now, since the world is suffering from a major climate crisis and natural crisis keeps on coming, it’s time when we as a sports industry start to change our practices and rise up again to give the world a clear message.

Sports have a major role to play in promoting sustainability development since the majority of industry is dependent on sports events and those events cause major pollution and create a big Co2 footprint. For example,

According to official figures, the FIFA World Cups in South Africa (2010) and Brazil (2014) generated close to 2.8 millions tons of CO2e each and the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio generated 4.5 million tons of CO2e. Combined, these 3 events generated emissions equivalent to burning 11 billion pounds of coal.

Building venues and infrastructure, gathering hundreds of thousands of people from all corners of the globe, accommodating and feeding them has an inherent environmental impact.

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The link between protection of the environment and sport events is not new – climate change was first mentioned in the official wrap-up report of the 1998 Winter Olympic Games in Nagano — the issue has become crucial to most sport organizations recently. Some have even put sustainability at the top of their agenda, such as Paris 2024 and its ambitious target: becoming “the greenest game ever”.

  • Can we use a major sports event to improve the conditions of individuals in a meaningful and lasting way?

The answer is yes, and perhaps definitely yes.

Every event, big or small,has the potential to positively or negatively impact human sustainability.The bigger the event, the greater the likelihood

it could affect social,economic, governance, environmental, and human livelihood.

Let’s take a look at the upcoming 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar as an example.

The FIFA World Cup brings together competitors and fans from around the world in a single city or a cluster of cities for a sustained period. During this period, a tremendous amount of energy propels the host country and its citizens,brought on by the attention from the global community.The host country experiences a surge in investment in resources,dedicated to the overall success and sustainability of the mega sport event.

While examining how major sports events help promote human rights, and in particular, youth education and empowerment is the answer.

Such sport events celebrate achievement and showcase hard work, collaboration, uniqueness with everyone wanting to feel comfortable, safe and respected in their individuality.This is why we need to stop and think about what can be done to ensure a positive and memorable experience for all.

It is the task of the organizing committee and everyone involved in the planning and the implementation of the event to ensure that human rights are respected,that everyone has fair access to facilities and experiences and that mechanisms have been put in place to mitigate the unexpected.

Same goes with oher pillars of economic  and governance the organizers should be able to make a sustainable and appropriate economic draft and governance policies to save the event from risks and maintain the sustainability levels.

While talking about Environmental sustainability there are majorly 3 sector which are to be given most attention.

  1. Travel and accommodation
  2. Food and Beverages
  3. Infrastructure/Facilities

In 2018, 5 million people travelled to Russia to watch their team battle the FIFA World Cup (WC). This is a huge audience. Considering that about 85% of GHG emissions generated during major sports tournaments come from the travel and accommodation of guests, the environmental impact of such an audience is significant – in this case, approximately 1.6 million tons of CO2e. This is equivalent to the emissions from half a million homes’ yearly electricity. The forthcoming European Cup – EURO 2020 – is just around the corner and matches will be for the first time played across 12 different countries (normally only one or two countries host a tournament), leading to an additional 2 million trips that will be made during the tournament. The issue of GHG emissions generated by travelling is clearly not about to fade away.

These events are opportunities to drive new approaches and systems for reduced impact and to drastically improve the status quo of environmental management in the area.

These events concentrate a large number of visitors in particular locations for a short period of time. Throughout their stay, visitors engage in activities that consume large quantities of water and food,and resulting in solid waste and air emissions.

Sustainable event planning ensures minimal environmental impacts to the local area during the event and long-lasting improvements in regional environmental management. London 2012 Olympics is an excellent example where contaminated land sites were cleaned and large-scale recycling infrastructure was developed for the city. Given the global audience associated with major sporting events and the strong linkage of sports with the outdoors, these events also provide an excellent opportunity to engage visitors and viewers in environmentally-conscious education and discussion.

Buildings hold a world-wide status quo of 24 to 50% of global energy use.

For example, in the United States, buildings account for 72% of electricity consumption,38% of carbon dioxide emissions, and 14% of potable water consumption. By the year 2025, the construction waste generated worldwide will nearly double to 202 billion tonnes. Buildings and infrastructure are important elements when organizing major sports events. These two elements make it easier and possible for many different end-users, such as fans, athletes, and planners, to meet together and make the event a reality. Every host county has its priorities and needs. Many are facing challenges in water, energy, and climate.

In Qatar, for example, 80% of the total electricity production, goes to cooling buildings due to the hot air climate conditions.

The country also faces critical water challenges,as 99% of potable water comes from highly energy-intensive seawater desalination, with tremendous negative environmental impacts.

The sheer scale of environmental impacts when hosting a major sport event, cannot be overstated. It’s important to digest the carbon dioxide emissions and other significant environmental impacts.

The building sectors tops the CO2 emission list and even transcends the notorious transport sector.At such a staggering figure, there is a definite demand for new methods to design,construct and operate event infrastructure.

This demand, therefore, has led to the creation of the terms green buildings and infrastructure, and it’s referred to as the high-quality and characteristic of an actual structure. Similarly, ecologically-designed or sustainable design, green design, and high-performance buildings are terms that describe the application of sustainability principles to the building and infrastructure design.

Event infrastructure should aim to minimize the resources consumption, pollution, toxic and waste. Planning should maximize efficiency in the infrastructure through reuse, recycling and renewable resources. and finally foster conservation through the understanding of how natural systems function.


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