Climate Action

Interview with Federico Addiechi, FIFA’s Head of Sustainability & Diversity

Climate Action spoke to FIFA about its new sustainability strategy, engaging fans, and the upcoming World Cups in Russia and Qatar.

  • 30 April 2018
  • Adam Wentworth

Climate Action spoke to FIFA about its new sustainability strategy, engaging fans, and the upcoming World Cups in Russia and Qatar.

Climate Action (CA): What are the key elements of FIFA’s sustainability strategy?

Federico Addiechi (FA): For the upcoming FIFA World Cup in Russia, we have identified nine key issues and 25 objectives that cover the social, environmental and economic spheres of organising a more sustainable mega-sporting event. The issues that we tackle include diversity, accessibility, labour rights, recycling, social development, green stadiums, climate change and biodiversity. While some of those key aspects have been relevant in the past and will be relevant for future tournaments, others are added to ensure that our strategies always cover the most material issues for the event.

CA: How can governing bodies truly bring change to the sport industry?

FA: We are the international governing bodies of our sports. Therefore, we can and should govern and influence as many aspects of sports as possible and integrate sustainability into how the sport is played and organised. This can be achieved by expanding policies and regulations or providing best practices and guides to the members, athletes, event organisers and fans of the sport. For example, we have expanded our requirements for sustainability for the bidders of the 2026 FIFA World Cup. In our human rights policy we have also outlined what we expect from our member associations and organisers of our events. Other examples are our guides on anti-discrimination in football, our accessibility standards, and on reducing the environmental impact of artificial turf.

CA: In regards to the environmental footprint – what have you learned from the previous World Cups and how are you applying these learnings to FIFA 2018 and 2022?

FA: There is no doubt that an event of the size of the FIFA World Cup has an impact on the environment. Environmental protection has been a topic that we have taken seriously since the 2006 FIFA World Cup in Germany. Since then, we have been able to strengthen ongoing activities as well as steadily diversify our initiatives to cover waste separation, recycling, environmentally friendly driving, forest conservation, green stadium certification and climate action.

CA: What is the initiative you are most proud of for both the World Cup in Russia and Qatar?

FA: I am proud of all our work in Russia and Qatar. It is still a major challenge to ensure that the mind-set in implementing operations includes sustainability. If I would have to name one, I would surely point out our recent progress on ensuring respect for labour rights on FIFA World Cup stadium construction sites. In both Russia and Qatar, and in close collaboration with the Local Organising Committees, we have been able to set-up effective monitoring systems to promote and improve health, safety and general labour conditions for stadium construction workers. Other achievements worth mentioning would be our programme on accessibility for all and the measures against discrimination in football.

CA: The governing bodies, federations, clubs and venues can do their part in ensuring sustainability in their operations, but what about the fans? How can the industry truly change the attendees’ behaviours – and what are FIFA’s projects on this?

FA: We are neither a development agency nor an environmental protection organisation. First and foremost, FIFA’s statutory objective is to develop the game of football globally. However, as a global organisation, we have a responsibility towards society and the environment which we take very seriously. In some cases, fans are important to achieve our goals. We inform and engage with fans through various communication channels about the measures we have taken. For example, we inform them about our anti-discrimination monitoring system in the stadiums and ask them to uphold the principles of diversity in football. We also engage with fans to raise their awareness about the impact of travelling on climate change, and inform them about what they can do to mitigate it.

CA: You will be delivering a Keynote Address at the 3rd Sustainable Innovation for Sport Forum. Can you give us a teaser of your speech and what are you hoping to achieve with your attendance?

FA: I am very glad to have the opportunity to speak to peers in sports and sustainability about making the sports industry more sustainable. I believe, we all know what it takes to achieve this goal: responsibility, consistency and hard work. We have all made our experiences in implementing sustainability strategies and have ideas to strengthen and further expand the concept of sustainability in sports. My goal for attending your conference is to showcase what we are doing and planning in connection with FIFA’s activities, as well as to exchange with my peers about innovative solutions for issues that we have in common.