Athletes mark World Wildlife Day by joining beach clean-up in Muscat
The Oman Athletic Association (OAA) joined World Athletics as a signatory of the United Nations Climate Change Sports for Climate Action Framework, underscoring the sport’s commitment to the fight against climate change.
OAA President Sheikh Salim bin Al Amri made the commitment at a ceremony at Al Haid North Beach in Muscat where athletes from several countries competing at this weekend’s World Athletics Race Walking Team Championships Muscat 22 participated in a beach clean-up to mark World Wildlife Day and World Athletics’ commitment to the UN Clean Seas pledge.
This action by Oman’s athletics governing body comes just three days after the release of the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report that warned that the impacts of climate change are dangerously outpacing the world’s ability to adapt to those impacts. West Asian countries like Oman, the report said, are especially vulnerable to rising temperatures, drought and increased water scarcity. Any further delay in global action on adaptation and mitigation, the report’s authors concluded, “will miss a brief and rapidly closing window of opportunity to secure a liveable and sustainable future for all.”
As a coastal state, the Sultanate of Oman is especially vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, including sea level rise, precipitation variabilities and extremes and desertification which directly affect the health of its population, its infrastructure and water resources. The OAA’s commitment to the Sport for Climate Action Framework is in line with Oman’s Vision 2040, which includes a strong focus on environmental sustainability.
“I would like to personally thank local and international athletes coming together today to raise awareness on the importance of protecting the environment,” said OAA President Sheikh Salim bin Al Amri. “This beach clean is the first of many initiatives to demonstrate OAA’s commitment to the Framework and the association’s dedication to the environmental pillar set out within Oman’s Vision 2040. Leave only your footprints when you visit the beach.”
World Athletics President Sebastian Coe said: “We are witnessing all too frequently the impact that climate change is having on our lives and on our sport. We must do whatever is within our power to help reverse these effects. We must use the influence we have to advocate for a better and more sustainable future.
“But it’s also critical to acknowledge that we, as an organiser of events, are also contributing to that impact and must take action to reduce our imprint on the earth. So I’m especially proud that Sheik Salim and the Oman Athletic Association, after stepping in to host this event at a very late stage, have committed to the principles outlined in the framework.”
To commemorate the occasion, Coe presented Al Amri with a relay baton made of recycled aluminium and produced by World Athletics supplier Mondo noting the Oman Athletic Association’s commitment to the framework.
The OAA is the second member federation of World Athletics to sign on. Athletics Kenya was the first, joining in August 2021. More than 300 clubs, leagues and federations have committed to the framework since its launch in 2018.
The signing ceremony is one of several sustainability activities and initiatives set to take place around the World Athletics Race Walking Team Championships.
After the ceremony, Al Amri and Coe joined athletes, volunteers and World Athletics staff to participate in the clean-up which coincided with the 10th World Wildlife Day.
All participants, including some event volunteers and World Athletics staff who joined the clean-up effort, were asked to take the UN Clean Seas Pledge, a commitment to reduce or eliminate single-use plastics from their daily lives.
World Athletics joined the Clean Seas campaign in 2018.
“It’s important to think about what our impact is and take actions to address that,” said Rhydian Cowley, who is part of the Australian squad competing in the 20km race on Saturday. “Cleaning up the beach here isn’t going to solve the plastic pollution problem on its own, but it’s certainly galvanizing people to think it and address the root causes.”
Evan Dunfee of Canada, the reigning Olympic and world bronze medallist in the 50km race walk who competes this weekend in Saturday’s 35km, added: “I think one of the valuable parts of it was being able to have these conversations and talk about what sustainability means to each of us and what we do in our own lives and share ideas.”
This year’s World Wildlife Day theme, ‘Recovering key species for ecosystem restoration’, is particularly apt for Oman, whose government, in cooperation with local NGOs, is doing important work to preserve the habitats of five native species of turtles. To help support that critical work and to contribute to the legacy of these championships, one of those NGOs, the Environment Society of Oman, has been selected as a beneficiary of the weekend’s event.
Athletes, guests, volunteers and staff will also be invited to participate in a tree-planting activity on Sunday 6 March at the race venue to contribute to the event’s legacy and help offset the event’s carbon footprint.
About the Sports for Climate Action Framework
The Sports for Climate Action Framework was launched in Katowice, Poland in 2018 with an aim to encourage sport organisations to take collective action to limit global warming to a 1.5C degrees rise, the levels agreed in Paris during the 2015 Climate Change Conference.
The United Nations has recognised that the global carbon reductions required to meet the targets agreed to in Paris – a net zero emission economy by 2050 – cannot be met by governments alone. Meeting the scale of the immense challenge requires action from all sectors, including sport. With a global reach that includes a fan base in the billions and a unique power to inspire, sport is well positioned to help drive global climate action.
The framework has two overarching objectives: achieving a clear trajectory for the global sports community to combat climate change through commitments and partnerships in congress with verified standards and using sports as a unifying tool to drive climate awareness and action among global citizens. Signatories must pledge to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by 50% by 2030 and to reach net zero by 2040.
By signing on, signatories will agree to commit to the framework’s five principles:
- Undertake systemic efforts to promote greater environmental responsibility;
- Reduce overall climate impact;
- Educate for climate action;
- Promote sustainable and responsible consumption; and
- Advocate for climate action through communication.
Sports organisations are invited to sign on regardless of the current stage of their environmental endeavours and to work collaboratively with other signatories to identify and spotlight solutions.
Commitment to the framework requires a demonstration of ongoing progress, meaning organisations need to set targets, measure their carbon impact and take action to reduce as well as compensate for those remaining emissions.
World Athletics signed on to the framework on Earth Day 2021, demonstrating the global governing body’s broader approach as outlined in the World Athletics Sustainability Strategy, a 10-year road map unveiled in April 2020 whose goals include transitioning to carbon neutrality across all of its operations and events by 2030.
World Athletics urges all of its member federations, event organisers and other stake holders to learn more about the framework and commit to its principles. World Athletics will provide its member federations with any guidance and assistance needed to ensure that our sport is positively contributing to the framework.