SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT: FIFA and the Pacific Islands Forum seal partnership against climate change


As part of the Memorandum of Understanding between FIFA and the Pacific Islands Forum, signed in April 2022, Port Moresby (Papua New Guinea) hosted a FIFA seminar on the maintenance of infrastructure and facilities, the 9 and April 10, 2024.

The need for member associations to adopt a global and structural approach to the development of their football infrastructures was on the agenda of this workshop.

It also involved developing infrastructure strategies and maintenance plans to ensure that all facilities are fit for purpose and meet the public service’s expectations in terms of sustainability, inclusiveness, accessibility and protection. , notably.

Climate change is the greatest threat facing Pacific countries. According to a report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, an increase of 1.5°C will submerge 4% of the planet’s land surface and will have a negative impact on the very survival of the Pacific region.

“Our country is an island nation with approximately 1,000 islands. One of the challenges our country faces with regard to climate change is land erosion, due to rising sea levels,” explains Leonard Paia, director general of the Solomon Islands Football Federation. “Many of our beaches have disappeared, especially those where we used to build beach soccer fields for our communities in rural areas, which has really affected the development of our soccer. »

Oceania has the highest disaster risk, mainly due to its high exposure to extreme natural events and sea level rise.

In 2020, economic losses due to cyclones and floods in the South Pacific region amounted to approximately $1 billion. Similarly, Pacific island countries suffer an average annual loss of 14.4% of their GDP due to these disasters.

These challenges impact the development of football, with high costs linked to the elevation of pitches, the reinforcement of roofs and buildings, and the choice of materials.

It is common for nations in this region to suffer significant damage to their facilities. Championship interruptions due to flooding, tidal waves, sea level rise and land erosion have also occurred.

Pacific Member Associations come together to define strategies for resilience to climate change

FIFA has worked with member associations to address some of these issues and since 2016, as part of the FIFA Forward Programme, has invested a total of USD 21 million in infrastructure development in Oceania, with components of sustainability and accessibility integrated into designs.

But obstacles and high costs will persist unless strategies and regulations can be implemented and driven by individual federations in their respective countries.

The aim of the seminar, attended by General Secretaries and Facilities Managers from 11 Member Associations across Oceania, was to strengthen stakeholder engagement to enable federations to leverage all available support and maximize the positive impacts on populations, their region and the environment.

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