• Athlete support demonstrates need for respect, solidarity and action to tackle the climate crisis 
  • Work underway at World Rugby on its path to halve its carbon emissions by 2030 as set in its recently launched Environmental Sustainability Plan 2030  
  • Rugby community asked to show their Earth Action Number 

Fifth of June marks World Environment Day, an official United Nations day of observance which provides an important and annual focal point in the calendar to engage society to move from words to actions when it comes to tackling climate change. 

With every sector of society having a role to play, sport is no different and World Rugby, alongside athletes, fans, partners and other stakeholders, has been working to further and more formally embed sustainability into its activities following the launch of its Environmental Sustainability Plan 2030 (ESP 2030), building on its commitments as a signatory to the United Nations Sport for Climate Framework to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and the UN Environment/International Olympic Committee-backed Clean Seas initiative to turn the tide on plastic entering waterways and oceans. 

Speaking to mark the occasion, World Rugby Chair Sir Bill Beaumont said “World Environment Day is an ideal opportunity for us to reflect on the impact of our work to date as we look to build momentum on the pathway to halving our carbon emissions by 2030, without the use of offsetting. 

“I am heartened by the efforts of so many stakeholders and their level of commitment to our shared objectives – climate change is the opponent we cannot afford to lose to if we wish to secure a sustainable future - not just for our sport, but for our planet”.  

Climate action 2030 - Alena Olsen and Jamie Farndale
Alena Olsen from USA Women’s Sevens and Jamie Farndale of Scotland Men’s Sevens are among the athlete voices to speak-up on the role of sport to fight climate change.

Athletes a key part of a global team 

Recognising the importance of team effort to adopt a more sustainable way of doing things, rugby athletes from across the globe have been among those leading the charge. Alena Olsen from USA Women’s Sevens and Jamie Farndale of Scotland Men’s Sevens were among the athlete voices to speak-up on the role of sport against the backdrop of the COP26 Climate Summit in Glasgow last November.  

Speaking about the ESP 2030, Farndale said “It’s not just enough for that plan to be there, it’s going to take a lot of work over the coming years and decades and everyone’s got a part to play”. 

“Rugby players can play a larger role in this movement by educating themselves firstly – what is the problem, what are the possible solutions and how can they be a part of those solutions?” added Olsen.  

“World Rugby is taking a leadership stance by coming out with this strategy and they’re putting their best foot forward to make a difference for the rugby community – it would be amazing to see the rugby community embrace that and also take responsibility for making this strategy a success and putting our world and our futures in a better place”. 

World Rugby gets moving on sustainability plan

Following the launch of the ESP 2030 in January, World Rugby has started a range of actions under the plan’s three key themes of Climate Action, Circular Economy and Protecting the Natural Environment. Efforts so far have included: 

  • Incorporating initial sustainability criteria and guidelines in tender documentation for signage, imaging services, and broadcast operations   
  • Engagement with RWC 2021, RWC Sevens 2022, and RWC 2023 hosts on tournament sustainability objectives, planning and delivery 
  • Collaboration with partners including DHL, Capgemini and Mastercard on sustainability initiatives around building capacity, carbon tracking and reporting 
  • Donations to and support for the collection and redistribution of reusable kit and equipment via SOS KIT AID 
  • Education sessions for staff and advocacy opportunities for athlete and World Rugby leadership panellists at key events 
  • Ongoing application of operational sustainability initiatives for meetings and tournaments 
  • Recipient of IOC Carbon Action Award 2022  
  • Appointment of a Sustainability Manager to support implementation 

Further information on the ESP 2030’s key themes, pillars of activity and planned actions is available at www.world.rugby/environment    

Swap a jersey number for an Earth Action Number 

As part of the global campaign for World Environment Day, members of the public are being asked to build their Earth Action Number – a simple commitment to undertake a measurable action and share its positive impact with a global community via Earth Action Number. With no shortage of actions to take, the only limits are an individual or team’s creativity and rugby fans can get in on the game too by signing up and promoting their actions using the hashtag #OnlyOneEarth.  

For more on steps rugby players and fans can take to making sustainable living the default option, download the World Environment Day Practical Guide here