Uniting the World of Sports against Climate Change: A Rallying Cry from Africa

Richard Munang
4 min readSep 17, 2023

The global passion for sports is undeniable. From the bustling football arenas in Europe and North America to the lively soccer pitches in Africa, the thrill and excitement that come with every game is a universal feeling. But what happens when our beloved sports come under threat from the relentless grip of climate change? Can sports be the catalyst that mobilizes the world to act? Can Africa lead this charge, given its vulnerability to climate change and its vibrant sporting culture?

A Universal Problem, A Universal Passion

It’s an alarming fact that sporting activities globally emit as much greenhouse gases as a medium-sized nation. From powering up large stadiums, to fans and athletes crisscrossing continents, to the colossal waste generated at these venues; the carbon footprint is staggering. But herein lies a unique opportunity. If sports could contribute to the problem, they can surely be part of the solution.

Take, for instance, Seattle’s Climate Pledge Arena. Not only does it employ rainwater to create its hockey rink, but it also sources three-quarters of its food supplies from local farms, ensuring both sustainability and support for local communities.

Not far off in Minneapolis, U.S. Bank Stadium, home to the Vikings, has adopted ingenious ways to manage waste. During the Super Bowl LII, an astounding 91% of the waste generated by tens of thousands of fans was either composted or recycled.

In Africa, where sports, especially football, is deeply rooted in the culture, the opportunities are vast. Imagine the Cairo International Stadium in Egypt transitioning to solar energy, or South Africa’s iconic Soccer City Stadium in Johannesburg adopting rainwater harvesting techniques. Such changes not only combat climate change but also inspire millions of fans who frequent these venues.

The Wake-up Call

The stakes are higher than ever. From the repeated flood threats faced by football grounds in England and the EU to golf courses from Australia to the U.S. being submerged, the very arenas we cherish are at risk. Who could forget the distressing scenes at the 2020 Australian Open, where poor air quality from bushfires imperiled players’ health?

Africa, too, isn’t untouched. Rising temperatures have had profound impacts on marathons and other athletic events, often causing severe…

--

--

Richard Munang

Expert environmental policy, climate change and sustainable development. An accomplished public speaker. Founded the Innovative Volunteerism mentorship program