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Working towards environmental sustainability

As the United Nations meet in Dubai to fight against climate change, our environmental sustainability strategic lead introduces the steps we're taking to tackle its effects on people's ability to stay active across the country.

1st December 2023

by Denise Ludlam
Strategic lead for environmental sustainability

To say that the weather is changing is an understatement.

We have all noticed and experienced shifts in our lives because of more extreme temperatures and rainfall, but what is being done to stop this worrying trend?

The United Nations COP28, which started yesterday in Dubai and that will last until 12 December, will take stock of the progress made since 2015 on the Paris Agreement.

The central aim then was to strengthen the global response to the threat of climate change by keeping the global temperature rise this century well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels.

What can be done?

Much has been achieved since the United Nations began its Environment Programme in 1972, including fixing the hole in the ozone layer over Antarctica, but there is still a more lot to do.

Global temperatures are still rising and this trend will continue for many years to come.

We know from the consultation carried out earlier this year, that individuals and clubs across the sport and physical activity sector are aware of this and are wondering what they can do to help.

We have all noticed and experienced shifts in our lives because of more extreme temperatures and rainfall, but what is being done to stop this worrying trend?

Here at Sport England, we’ve been asking ourselves the same question.

We invest in sport and physical activity so it becomes a normal part of life for everyone in England, regardless of background, location and many other factors that may influence the possibility of a person being physically active.

But we know that not only does a changing climate threaten people’s ability and opportunity to be active, but in the process of taking part in sport that we are also negatively affecting the very environment we rely on.

We also know that climate change and poor environmental conditions disproportionately affect disadvantaged communities, not only in other countries across the world, but here in the UK too.

Some of these groups experience poor air quality, higher temperatures during heatwaves due to the urban heat-island effect, and terrible floodings.

The Government’s research on the future of sport and physical activity shows that these same communities are less likely to take part in sport and physical activity.

And that’s why we’re determined to take action to become more environmentally sustainable.

Our objectives

We aim to realise a vision of a positive and regenerative sport and physical activity sector that champions environmental sustainability with every move and that will help us deliver our long-term strategy, Uniting the Movement.

We are setting out our approach to sustainability in our strategy which you’ll be able to read in the new year.

But in the meantime, we are already starting to take action by providing training and building on the already available resources so that clubs across the country know what their next steps are and how to take them.

In the coming months and years we will continue to advocate for system change and ensure that sustainability is considered in all our funding decisions.

We aim to build capacity across the sector to take action, focusing on biodiversity and highlighting the need to build resilience to a changing climate across the sector.

COP28 is helping focus minds on what each and every one of us can do in clubs and groups across the country, so that together we make a difference.

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