The 2017 United Nations Climate Change Conference concluded today in Germany, two weeks after the San Francisco 49ers helped open the gathering of international climate change advocates by participating in the inaugural UN Dialogue on Sport and Climate Action. The gathering of global sports organizations and sustainability experts, held October 30-31 in Bonn, Germany, preceded the global inter-governmental summit formally known as the 23rd session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 23) that ended today. The larger summit was held to advance implementation of the 2015 Paris Agreement to address climate change.
The award-winning 49ers stadium operations team was humbled to be invited to participate in this historic sports industry event on the basis of designing and operating Levi’s Stadium as one of the most environmentally sustainable sports and entertainment venues in the world. Having achieved the unprecedented honor of twice being awarded LEED Gold certification and setting an industry standard for solar power and recycled water usage, the 49ers were one of just 25 organizations to participate in the summit. The gathering was designed to develop collaborative approaches and platforms by which stakeholders at the intersection of sport and climate can contribute to achieving the long-term goals of the Paris Agreement and the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
“Meeting with sports venues and organizations from around the world – big and small – really demonstrated that our Levi’s Stadium team is really well positioned to help lead the movement towards a more sustainable future for our industry,” said Pat Rogan, Levi’s Stadium Director of Engineering Operations, who represented the 49ers in Bonn at the UN Dialogue on Sport and Climate Action. “The conference showed us there are many organizations as committed as we are to being environmentally responsible neighbors and that if we all work together, we can be meaningful resources for the rest of the sports industry.
The UN Dialogue on Sports and Climate Action featured two full days of workshops, panel discussions, and keynote speeches focused on leveraging sport and its ability to influence social consciousness. One aim of which was to discuss ways to inspire fans of the sport to adopt some of its more sustainable practices in the areas of energy consumption, water conservation, waste diversion, reducing toxins, enhancing public transportation, stadium design, procurement, and fan and athlete engagement. Group working sessions included collective assessments of the impact on climate change from the sports industry, the risks to sport from climate change and governmental policy decisions, and the expectations on the sports industry to be advocates for climate change. The groups also discussed what individual and collective commitments can be made within the sports industry, what forms of cooperation can be established with relevant entities outside of the sports industry, and how can the sports industry better engage stakeholders to promote broader climate action.