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19 Dec 2022 | 10:10

D Gent biog 2David Gent is CEO of Active Humber and represents Active Partnerships on the UK's Sport and Environment Climate Coalition (SECC). In this blog, David explains how Active Partnerships, and the wider Sport for Development Coalition, are proposing to accelerate collective action on ‘increasing environmental sustainability’ through the #OpenGoal framework.

The Sport for Development Coalition held its final Working Group session of 2022 on December 7th with each of the groups coming together to provide insight and update from the past year, and set priorities for 2023.

The groups oversee the network’s collective action ranging from impact to policy, and EDI (equality, diversity and inclusion) to workforce development, and the session demonstrated how much progress is being made against one of the two over-arching aims of the #OpenGoal framework around ‘tackling health and societal inequalities’.

However whilst the word ‘sustainability’ was frequently used during the session, there was not much reference to the other over-arching aim which is ‘increasing environmental sustainability’.


So how might we do that in 2023? A good place to start would be to use the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) which the United Nations officially adopted on January 1st 2016 as part of its Agenda 2030, and help to frame social, environmental and economic sustainability. Almost three years later a resolution from the UN General Assembly recognised sport as an ‘important contributor’ to the SDGs. More information can be found here, including a handy toolkit on the role of sport in achieving the Goals.

The SDGs are supported by UN members from across the globe so provide an ideal framework to review the work of the Coalition so far, and how it can help can galvanise efforts and contribute more effectively around its stated aim of ‘increasing environmental sustainability’.

The UN, as part of its Biodiversity Summit (COP15) taking place in Montreal, recently launched the inaugural Sport for Nature Framework. It states "anyone who has taken a run in a forest or sailed on a lake knows how closely sports are connected to nature".

Climate action

The UN is now calling on sports organisations across the world to do more for sustainability and the aim of the Sport for Nature Framework is to safeguard nature, contribute to new biodiversity goals and restore key ecosystems by 2030.

Signatories are being asked to commit to sustainability action plans for four main principles that help to protect, restore and create sustainable systems, including educating the sporting community to take action. The new framework is informed by the UN's existing Sport for Climate Action Framework.


In the national context, this action by the UN on sustainability and sport will be supported work of the UK’s Sport and Environment Climate Coalition (SECC) which runs through the UK sports councils including UK Sport, Sport England, sportscotland and Sport Wales. The SECC will be undertaking a major review of how the sector responds to the climate crisis in 2023, which the Sport for Development Coalition – with its focus on how sport’s contribution to building a fairer, more equitable and sustainable future – will be sure to feed into.

So as the Coalition approaches the first anniversary of its #OpenGoal framework in April, let us ensure that 2023 is the year when ‘increasing environmental sustainability’ is at the heart of our collective action. Look out for more information soon on how Coalition members are co-designing and working together to do exactly that.

Watch video with David speaking at a Coalition Town Hall on climate action and sport for development. To contact David, email [email protected]