Launched at the inaugural Sustainability in Sports Summit at Lord’s Cricket Ground, London, the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) commissioned report details how sports can act to protect nature by focusing on the unique role sport plays in engaging billions of people across the world.
Speaking at the event, sport ecologist Dr Orr explained the importance of the report and how sport can increase clean and healthy environments.
“We’re here to launch the Sports for Nature report and essentially it’s an invitation to the sports world to get involved in the global nature agenda,” she said.
“The United Nations has identified that climate change, pollution and nature and biodiversity loss are a triple planetary crisis…at the heart of all of them is nature and the natural environment in which we live, and sport very much exists in that natural environment.
“We need to think about what sports can do to reduce our footprint and take better care of the environment. We're hoping this report can increase biodiversity and act against nature loss in that process.”
The study – which consulted more than 100 organisations representing 30 different sports across 48 countries – is also supported by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and was officially revealed ahead of COP27 in Sharm El Sheikh and COP15 in Montreal.
It is hoped the launch will build toward an international action campaign, coordinating sports’ response to the triple planetary crisis in the lead up to Paris 2024 and through the Decade Of Ecosystem Restoration.
Dr Orr continued: “From an academic standpoint, Loughborough has been engaged in the sport conversation for a long time. We've had academics leading in this space and it's really cool to see different elements of the Loughborough campus coming together on this agenda.
“We have geographers on this, we have climatologists on this, we have engineers on this. And then I'm a sport ecologist, so it's just really a cool ecosystem of researchers that get to come together on something and try to change the world.”
The Sustainability in Sports Summit brought together world-leading academics, international sports brands, national sports bodies, and top business leaders. Alongside an academic workshop, delegates also witnessed engaging panel sessions that included individuals from UNEP, IOC, The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) IUCN, EY, Wimbledon and Chelsea Football Club.
Sam Barratt, Chief, Youth, Education & Advocacy, UN Environment Programme (UNEP), added: “Sport holds a very specific grasp over the emotions of billions of people around the world. Whether it’s fans or players of the game, sport brings people together like nothing else. If we can work with sport to change the way that they invest in the playing fields they depend on, we think that can make a massive difference for nature.
“We want sport to make new commitments so that it's not just talking about nature by just planting trees alone, but looking at its supply chain, engaging its fans and really having a very different relationship with nature. Nature isn’t something it can take for granted or an after-thought, but something sport needs to invest in and protect and restore.
“Hopefully we'll look back on this in years, weeks, months, and say, the MCC and Lord's gave us not just an opportunity to have a conversation, but to begin a new relationship with how we think about nature.”
Throughout the day, thoughts from panel members were also expertly captured by Loughborough University London student Karen Jiyun Sung.
The full Sports for Nature report and its findings can be found HERE