“Sport must address climate change to promote peace”
“The slogan that the United Nations has chosen for the 2019 edition of the International Day of Peace – 21 September – calls for “Climate action for Peace”. This emphasizes the importance of tackling climate change as a means of protecting and promoting peace in the world. As Champions for Peace, we are deeply convinced that sport must be part of sustainable development in order to protect and promote peace.
The International Olympic Committee was not wrong to put sustainability among the major resolutions of its Agenda for 2020, its strategic roadmap. It is one of the three pillars, along with credibility and youth. Many sports organizations are committed to adapt equipment, venue and rules so that sport can be played with limited resources or in harsh environments. Sport can be played with equipment made out of local resources or recycled materials.
Sustainability must be carried out on the ground, through everyday gestures and inspiring initiatives. Concrete actions for this happen every day, both internationally and locally.
For example, young activist Greta Thunberg, one of the most inspiring figures in the fight against climate change, is at the forefront of news. Her latest stunt, crossing of the Atlantic from Plymouth to New York at the end of August, is part of a tangible and accessible approach. The Swedish teenager took two weeks to complete her crossing aboard a zero-carbon racing yacht. Invited to New York to attend the United Nations World Climate Summit, Greta Thunberg could have flown there. But she refused this mode of transportation because of its carbon emissions. This very symbolic action aimed to raise awareness and to show the need to find alternative ways of life.
At a local level, communities are mobilizing to use recycled materials to build sports equipment and facilities. For example, in Colombia the Amigos del Mar Foundation is leading a Peace and Sport-supported project for the people of Tierra Bomba, an island of 11,500 people off Cartagena. The concept is simple. And it’s inexpensive. Above all, it’s dedicated to youth. It consists of using waste – mostly plastic – discharged into the ocean to make equipment for surfing. Sustainability is passed on to young people at grass roots level in a perceptible way. And with it, the values of sport, discipline and motivation.
In Tierra Bomba, young Colombians were introduced to surfing and the values of sport whilst cleaning plastic waste from the ocean. In New York, Greta Thunberg joined the action by demonstrating that climate change was not inevitable. Two concrete initiatives. Two ways to associate sport and nature to contribute to a better world. Two wonderful examples.”