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Sports must show leadership amidst climate crisis — UN deputy chief

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Athletes, together with their managers, fans and others involved in organised sports, must contribute to global efforts to combat climate change, UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed said on Wednesday.

Mohammed said this while delivering a message to a virtual event marking the International Day of Sports for Development and Peace, which is observed annually on April 6.

She added that their contribution was essential because they are among the most influential people on the planet.

The 2022 theme of the Day examines how sports can help advance human rights and sustainable development through addressing the climate emergency.

Mohammed pointed to the power of sports to unite and inspire people across the world, serving as an effective catalyst for promoting respect, equality, diversity, and inclusion.

“Sports also provides a platform for tackling some of the gravest global threats to people and planet, like climate change, which is right now wreaking havoc in all countries, with the greatest impacts on the poor and the vulnerable,” she said.

The UN deputy chief called for urgent and transformative action from all sectors, “including sports and the billions of people involved as participants, facilitators, owners, advertisers, and supporters.”

She recalled that UN Secretary-General António Guterres had stressed the need to go into “emergency mode” against the climate crisis.

Mohammed said this was because the battle to keep global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius would be won or lost in this decade.

“And we are far off track,” she warned.

“Major sports events and leagues, athletes and fans alike, are poised to be powerful advocates for collective and collaborative political action.”

Mohammed said the sports industry must show real leadership.

This leadership include by slashing its carbon footprint, encouraging higher ambition from the private sector, and promoting low-cost inclusive and accessible solutions, which also have high impact.

“Most crucially, we need everyone involved in sports to speak up much louder and demand bolder actions from governments and businesses alike,” she said.

Mohammed urged them to contribute to climate action, insisting that sports stars, pundits, sponsors, and their creative partners, are among the most influential personalities on the planet.

“They can call on governments and business to accelerate the renewal energy transition, for example, and to phase out coal.

“Use your voices and your platform to connect with people and youths in the billions and fire up their passions. Show leaders that a just, healthy and net-zero carbon planet is inevitable, and that it must quicken,” she said.

Mohammed described global efforts to combat the climate crisis and achieve sustainable development as a fight we will win or lose together.

“More than ever, we must unite as one team, working together to create a safer, inclusive and more peaceful and more sustainable future for all,” she said.

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