VfL Wolfsburg already lead the way when it comes to efforts to protect our planet. This is particularly true in terms of climate protection, where the Green-and-Whites play a pioneering role in professional football, as illustrated by their participation in the ‘Race To Zero’ project. VfL are now expanding their well-respected commitment to people and the environment even further by becoming the first German football club to be part of the ‘Sports for Nature’ initiative, a global alliance from the world of sport that has set itself the aim of joining forces to provide high-profile environmental protection.
“Fair play in relation to nature”
“Joining the ‘Sports for Nature’ initiative underlines our ambitions when it comes to climate and environmental protection,” said Nico Briskorn, head of CSR at VfL Wolfsburg. “We want to consistently be fair – not only on the pitch but also in relation to nature.” ‘Sports for Nature’ was launched at the end of 2022 via a collaboration between the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the International Olympic Committee (IOC), the Sails of Change Foundation and around 30 clubs, associations and organisations. In addition to the IOC, there are members from various world sporting federations, including table tennis, canoeing, rugby and water skiing, as well as national representatives such as the Hungarian Swimming Association and the English Squash Association.
All members have agreed on the intention to initiate quantifiable positive developments in their fields by 2030 and beyond. The four basic principles are to protect the environment and prevent damage to natural habitats and species; to restore and regenerate nature; to understand and reduce risks to nature in their supply chains; and to use sport as a role model to educate and inspire positive action. There are already a number of ideas as to how the Green-and-Whites can get involved. “Together with biodiversity researchers, we conducted a study in 2021 on the topic of football and biodiversity, which is unique in the league, and this led to a concrete plan of action being developed,” said Briskorn. “The measures that have been taken, such as innovative microplastic filters for artificial pitches, will also be made available to other sports organisations in the future as part of the ‘Sports for Nature’ initiative, and hopefully we can learn from the experiences of other participants in return.”
“Hope others will follow VfL’s example"
To be as effective as possible in this global and interdisciplinary sporting collaboration, the alliance has committed itself to the values of teamwork. As such, ‘Sports for Nature’ expressly sees itself as a complement to existing initiatives such as the UN climate protection agreement ‘Sports For Climate Action’, on the basis of which VfL support ‘Race To Zero’. “We are very pleased that VfL Wolfsburg have joined ‘Sports for Nature’,” said Stewart Maginnis, deputy director general of the IUCN. “The club’s commitment to biodiversity protection and sustainable action are highly commendable and will undoubtedly inspire other clubs to take action to help nature. We hope that others will follow VfL Wolfsburg’s example and join the initiative so that the global importance of sport can bring about positive change for our planet.”