Football powerful platform

 The agreement between the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe and UEFA aims to show how football can be a powerful platform for change.

Football powerful platform

Olga Algayerova (UNECE) signs the Memorandum of Understanding with Michele Uva (UEFA) 

UEFA and the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the aim of showing how football and hosting UEFA events can support cities to become more sustainable. To celebrate the agreement, a side event entitled ‘Football as accelerator of change’ featuring keynote speeches from UEFA’s Michele Uva, Olga Algayerova of the UNECE and the city of Copenhagen, took place at the Palais des Nations in Geneva, as part of the wider UNECE Forum of Mayors.

Amongst those to also speak were the Lord Mayor of Copenhagen, Sophie Hæstorp Andersen, whose city hosted matches at UEFA EURO 2020 last summer and UEFA’s chief of women’s football, Nadine Kessler, who talked about her experiences as a former player, transitioning to a second career in football governance and inspiring more girls to take up the sport.

Michele Uva, UEFA director of football social responsibility

“Football events are an accelerator of change that can contribute to sustainable development in society and support host cities in reaching smart goals. UEFA looks forward to helping to build further bridges between football, cities and communities, guided by the belief that sustainability is at the core of the success of civil society and future generations.”

Olga Algayerova, UNECE executive secretary

“Unlike any other sport, football has the ability to unite, and we want to work together, with UEFA, to use the power of football in order to have a positive impact on important global issues, such as environmental sustainability and social responsibility. Complex sustainability issues can only be addressed and solved if we work in close collaboration with a diverse range of stakeholders. Football is played and followed by millions of people, especially youngsters, and our actions can have an enormous impact on society.”

The UNECE is the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe, which includes 56 United Nations member States and aims to promote pan-European economic integration. The aims of the cooperation between UEFA and the UNECE will also look to promote smart and sustainable city goals, while facilitating knowledge exchanges and promoting safe and sustainable mobility in urban areas.

The memorandum will likewise endeavour to ensure that investment in events by partners and hosts contributes to cities becoming more sustainable.

Guillaume Poisson, UEFA head of host relations & event experience

“UEFA is actively looking at renewing its approach regarding the delivery of major events. We want to ensure the investments of our hosts and partners contribute to reaching the smart and sustainable goals of the cities. By working alongside the UNECE, we have a strong partner to make sure our efforts move in the right direction, while also staying informed and understanding the current challenges faced by the cities – so that our events become part of the solution.”

The signing of the Memorandum of Understanding also falls within the scope of UEFA’s own sustainability goals, which were outlined in the publication of UEFA’s Football Sustainability Strategy 2030 in December 2021.

UEFA is already in the process of creating its own sustainable event management system (SEMS), which will enable the measurement and benchmarking of event sustainability within football and provide a transparent traceability of UEFA’s impacts across its events.

Earmarked to be operational by 2023, the SEMS will act as a benchmark for national associations, leagues, and clubs across Europe to follow, while it will be applied to all UEFA events as of next year.

Michele Uva, UEFA director of football social responsibility

“Football must not simply intercept and follow sustainability and societal trends; it must anticipate and originate them. Through UEFA’s Football Sustainability Strategy 2030, we have set out a long-term commitment to initiate, inspire and accelerate collective action to respect human rights and the environment within European football.”

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