IUCN and Sails of Change launch Sports for Nature partnership to help sports become nature-positive

At the Sport Positive Summit at Wembley Stadium, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and Sails of Change today announced a new partnership to help sports organisations mitigate negative impacts on biodiversity and climate and encourage them to take concrete steps to protect biodiversity.

“Sports, whether they are done professionally or recreationally, can have a big impact on nature, both positive and negative,” said IUCN Director General, Bruno Oberle. “Together, IUCN and Sails of Change are in a unique position to provide sports organisations with tools and training to enable them to become nature-positive and inspire their networks to do the same.”

“Speaking as a sailor, the connection between sport and nature is very clear,” said Sails of Change co-founder, investor and skipper, Yann Guichard. “Sportspeople require clear water and clean air to perform. As such, they have a natural interest in protecting the environment and biodiversity. ”

“The IUCN-Sails of Change Sports for Nature partnership will be a catalyst to transform the sporting community,” explained Dona Bertarelli, Sails of Change co-founder, philanthropist and fastest woman to sail around the world. “Sport is important in many people’s lives. This makes sport the ideal vehicle to engage the broader public about the need to protect the environment.”

One pillar of the partnership will focus on supporting the implementation of the upcoming Sports for Nature Framework, which IUCN is developing with the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity and the International Olympic Committee, in consultation with sports organisations. The framework, expected to be launched at the Global Biodiversity Conference in December, will provide clear targets for sports organisations committed to taking action for nature, and require them to report on their progress.

Under the partnership, IUCN and Sails of Change will develop training programs and toolkits to support conservation efforts by the signatories to the new framework. The partners are currently seeking sports associations to pilot and test it.  

In parallel, the partnership plans to inspire and engage a broader public involved in sports on nature conservation topics, whether they are sports events participants, athletes, associations, fans, sponsors, communities or policy-makers. It will also support promising pilot projects with the potential to be scaled up and create a small grants programme to assist sports – in all regions of the world – take action for nature.   

Both Dona Bertarelli and Yann Guichard are IUCN Patrons of Nature, a group of highly accomplished leaders and philanthropists who provide strategic guidance and generate investment for IUCN’s Programme and specific initiatives.

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