The International Canoe Federation has joined more than twenty sports organisations, including the International Olympic Committee (IOC) as a founding partner, and the Olympic and Paralympic Games Paris 2024, to sign the first-ever Sports for Nature Framework.

The framework commits signatories to four key principles that will safeguard nature and contribute to the new global goals for biodiversity, which governments agreed to at the Convention on Biological Diversity 15th Conference of the Parties meeting (COP15) in Montreal.

ICF vice-president, Cecilia Farias, said a healthy natural environment was important for the strength of paddle sports.

“Every day, members of our canoe family are seeing first hand the effect humans and development are having on nature,” Ms Farias said.

“We are proud to do our part to ensure our beautiful planet can be handed to future generations in an even better condition than we inherited it. At the ICF we have already made a strong commitment to protecting the environment, and joining this framework will strengthen our hand.”  

The Sports for Nature Framework was co-created by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the International Olympic Committee (IOC), United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), in collaboration with the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), and aims to deliver action for nature across sports by 2030 and beyond.

“Anyone who has taken a run in a forest or sailed on a lake knows how closely sports are connected to nature,” IUCN Deputy Director General Stewart Maginnis, said.

 “At the same time, sports also impact nature in various ways. This Framework aims to help sport organisations understand their interactions with nature and take actions to reduce negative impacts in their operations and supply chains and make an active contribution to a nature-positive future.

“IUCN is proud to put its expertise in service of sports to support these efforts.”

The Framework brings together sport federations, leagues, clubs and events in a commitment to protect and avoid damage to important species and habitats, restore key ecosystems, create sustainable supply chains, and educate and inspire the wider sporting community to take action for nature.

In addition to the IOC and the ICF, the founding signatories to the framework include:

  • The Organising Committee for the Olympic and Paralympic Games Paris 2024
  • Spanish Olympic Committee
  • Papua New Guinea Olympic Committee
  • International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF)
  • Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI)
  • World Rowing (FISA)
  • World Sailing
  • World Skate Federation
  • International Orienteering Federation (IOF)
  • International Waterski & Wakeboard Federation (IWWF)
  • SAMBO International Federation (FIAS)
  • World University Games (FISU)
  • World Squash Federation (WSF)
  • England Squash
  • Forest Green Rovers
  • AlUla Sports Club
  • We Play Green
  • E1 Series
  • Extreme E
  • The Ocean Race
  • Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc (UTMB)

Signatories to the framework commit to develop and implement action plans for each of the four principles, and report on their progress annually to an expert panel who will confirm that the actions undertaken are credible and effective.

“There is an urgent need to halt biodiversity loss by 2030 and everyone, including sports and recreation, must play a role,” Executive Secretary of the Convention on Biological Diversity, Elizabeth Mrema, said.

“The Sports for Nature Framework is a step in the right direction. Thank you to IOC, IUCN and UNEP for joining forces under the Convention on Biological Diversity in this ground-breaking initiative to bring action for biodiversity from sports worldwide.

“It is encouraging to see this level of commitment from sports federations, leagues, clubs, and events, and I challenge all sports organisations to follow suit by taking urgent action for biodiversity.” 

“The IOC believes everyone has a responsibility to care for the planet. As a founding partner of the Sport for Nature Framework, we want to help the sports community minimise any negative impacts on nature and inspire nature-positive action,” IOC Member Tricia Smith said.

“This commitment builds on the success of the UN Sport for Climate Action Framework, and the IOC’s own efforts to address the climate and biodiversity crises: reducing emissions by half by 2030, committing to a ‘no-go’ for any permanent Olympic construction within protected areas, setting high environmental standards for our food sourcing and creating an Olympic Forest to help restore degraded land in Mali and Senegal.”

Susan Gardner, Ecosystems Director for UNEP said there is already ample evidence of the way the world is changing.

“Already this season, 8 major winter sports events have had to be cancelled as the playing fields for sport that we used to take for granted are literally melting away,” Ms Gardner said.

“We hope that this new framework can secure support from the whole of the sporting family to take action for nature, we have no time to lose.”

Paris 2024 is also pledging to play a leading role in the Sports for Nature framework.

"Paris 2024 is excited to join this initiative, as we believe sport can and should make a difference,” Paris 2024 President, Tony Estanguet, said.

“Facing today’s challenges, Paris 2024 takes on its responsibilities by massively relying (95%) on existing or temporary sport venues to reduce its impacts, by choosing natural settings to avoid soil sealing, and by including extended nature protection principles for all its procurement.

“These and other efforts towards nature protection started back in 2015, in the early conception process for the Paris Games, and are being applied across all our activities through 2024, with a strong legacy mindset.”