By Dela Ahiawor
The United Nations (UN) has entreated hosts of mega sporting events to inculcate “sustainability measures” into their event management cycle.
Expounding his views on, “The value of hosting mega sport events for sustainable development,” in New York, recently-the (UN) Secretary General, Ban Ki-Moon, stated that “All hosts of mega events should integrate sustainability at their core.”
He made this assertion, apparently, due to the fact that, Sporting activities from local (college athletics) to mega events (FIFA World Cup and the Olympics) spawn many opportunities and enduring effects in host communities. But their downside risk also remains equally evident to all globally.
Apart from host communities assimilating negative foreign cultures, the environment and the local economy tend to be on the receiving end, when event organizers fail to implement a comprehensive sustainability strategy. Undoubtedly, the legacy of mega sport events has come into question lately. And the fact remains that, mega events tend to leave unsustainable footprints in their host territories.
Considering, this ominous situation, Mr. Ban Ki- Moon, further called for a concerted effort by all to make future mega events, cleaner, greener and more sustainable. “Mega events must leave enduring legacies that benefit societies long after games are over.” He added.
Furthermore, in an explicit statement, Milan Verkhunova, Head of Sustainability for the 2018 FIFA World Cup Local Organizing Committee (LOC), said “We definitely can use mega events as a tool for sustainable development.” She emphasized that “mega sport events and the World Cup were there to make a difference in people’s lives using the power of sport.” Ms Verkhunova also seized on the high-level powwow to unveil the huge scale of sustainability initiatives Russia’s LOC is adopting to deliver a great World Cup.
Going forward, aside the visible legacies, the LOC, has also highlighted the intangible impact of the World Cup. As a result, they have implemented more than a century projects and initiatives in sport legacy, health and safety, inclusivity, equality and healthy living. Not forgetting, several other measures to promote biodiversity and environmental stewardship; all in the bid to achieve sustainability.
Sustainable development (sustainability) is described as “Development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” Thus, sustainability emphasizes the need to eliminate global poverty and strive towards achieving equality, all within the limits of the earth’s finite resources.
Also present at the high-profile meeting was key sporting and political personalities, including: the Assistant Secretary General of the UN, Laksmi Puri, Acting Head of UN Women, Wilfried Lemke, Brazilian soccer legend, Cafu, FIFA Women’s World Cup winner, Carli Lloyd from the United States, basketball legend Dikembe Mutombo, and the CEO of Qatar 2022 LOC, Hassan Al Thawadi, to name but a few.