Tuesday, December 7, 2021

When sport warms up to the cold hard facts of the environment

It is quite evident that the climate is changing in a drastic way.

The environment is under a lot of pressure through extreme weather from intense floods, landslides, heatwaves, wildfires and drought to name but a few.

The irony of climate change is too evident that scientific proof is unnecessary. However, a number of scientists believe what the world is experiencing is human- made, hence can still be corrected by humans.

Known for bringing the world together as one, the uniquely unifying power of sports has taken a stand in trying to help fight climate change.

The 2016 Olympics which were held in Rio, awarded bronze and silver medals which were said to have been made out of 30 percent recycled materials. Following 2019 winter Olympics medals too featured recycled material.

However, Tokyo Olympics introduced gold, silver and bronze medals 100 percent made out of recycled electronics. The initiative through International Organizing Committee (IOC), collected 70 pounds of gold, 7, 700 pounds of silver and 4, 850 pounds of bronze.

The project according to ‘waste today magazine’ saw up to 90 percent of Japanese cities, towns and villages participating through setting donation centres.

Japan has truly proven the power of togetherness which the world even Botswana can learn from.

Commenting on the issue, environmental officer and Botswana Hockey Association (BHA) president Unaswi Matebu said there is much that ‘sports organisations can learn from Tokyo 2020 in regard to sustainability policy and sustainability plan.’

“The development and implementation of policies at different levels including individuals. The role and responsibilities at organisational level and individual level,” she said.

“We need to have a sustainability policy in place, this will help us to deliver environmentally friendly sporting activities,” she added.

Matebu highlighted that the Tokyo Olympic games prove that sport organisations have a crucial responsibility to conserve natural resources while protecting the global ecosystem.

“The Tokyo 2020 Olympics organisers have a sustainability plan in place that deals with holistic environmental conservation for example the natural environment and biodiversity as well as climate change. Unlike what we normally do, for instance we don’t have a policy in place therefore we usually come up with a temporary sustainability plan for some of the major games and as soon as the games are over, it’s business,” Matebu explained.

It has been over time that Botswana sporting mother bodies find pleasure in usually a last-minute thing; however, Matebu discourages this behaviour as the approach faces a lot of challenges. 

“As a country we need to get involved more in implementing good waste management practises such that we normalise the recycling and reuse of these resources. Waste is one resource that is underutilised in our country therefore we definitely need to find ways of using this resource. Recycling and re-using is one of the best methods to preserve our natural environment and biodiversity. The more we recycle or reuse, the more we preserve the environment,” she said.

For other countries such as Japan, it has been evident that waste segregation is a lifestyle whether at home, work, school, sports. As a country, Matebu believes that is the direction the nation should be headed to.

“Sports organisations and stakeholders such as media have existing information dissemination systems or structures that can be used to incorporate environmental issues,” she said.

“Sports is very influential therefore we can use sport as a catalysing force to bring change and preserve our environment. If we get it right in sport, we are likely to influence the nation into adjusting individual lifestyles and also coming up with activities that are environmentally friendly,” Matebu concluded.

For his part, radio anchor and sports journalist Kagiso Phatsimo said sport is one of many activities that cause harm to the environment even though it brings nations together. Noting that same way sport contributes to environmental harm and climate change it can also copy from countries like Japan in healing it.

“Sport attracts crowds and sport stars are influential. We can use the likes of Isaac Makwala, Nijel Amos and Dipsy Selolwane to name a few through their influence to educate and raise awareness. Let us invest in recyclable products to give our planet a chance to breath,” he explained.

In addition, he said it is high time the country invests more in recycling and reusing materials.

“The population of the earth in today’s age means toxic waste is killing the planet. The more we recycle, the more we clean up and reduce the harm done to our environment. This clean up can only be through recycling,” said Phatsimo.

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