Sustainability at Tokyo 2020: the UN Sustainable Development Goals

by Chiara Aruffo

“Be better, together – For the planet and the people” is the sustainability slogan for the Tokyo Games. The plan is based on five main themes that are in line with the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

After having explored how the approach to sustainability has evolved over the various editions of the Olympic Games, it is now time to analyze the Tokyo Games. The sustainability plan was designed by a working group consisting primarily of the Tokyo Organizing Committee, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government (TMG) and the Japanese government, with local and regional representatives also collaborating. The slogan chosen is ‘Be better, together – For the planet and the people’. This sentence powerfully expresses in a few words how the sustainability goals need a collective effort to be achieved, while at the same time looks beyond the Games towards the future.

sustainability tokyo 2020
Cartoon explaining the sustainability concept for Tokyo 2020 (IOC – olympics.com)

Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

Since the first draft (2016) of the Tokyo 2020 sustainability plan, the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) had a prominent role as the global common goal. The SDGs are the sustainable development goals identified by the United Nations in 2015 as part of the 2030 Agenda. They consist of 17 points representing the challenges to overcome in order to achieve a sustainable future for mankind but also for the environment. They range from issues such as poverty and hunger to gender equality, access to clean water and energy, sustainable cities and climate change.

Sport can certainly play a role in achieving these goals, as the United Nations has repeatedly stated and as explicitly stated in paragraph 37 of the 2030 Agenda document: “Sport is also an important enabler of sustainable development. We recognize the growing contribution of sport to the realization of development and peace in its promotion of tolerance and respect and the contributions it makes to the empowerment of women and of young people, individuals and communities as well as to health, education and social inclusion objectives.”

The five themes of Tokyo 2020

Japan, like many other countries, faces issues such as climate change, depletion of natural resources and human rights violations. The idea is to use the opportunity of the Games to propose solutions that can be replicated elsewhere. The five main themes identified in terms of sustainability are: climate change, resource management, natural environment and biodiversity, consideration of human rights and social engagement. Addressing these issues contributes also to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. In the coming weeks, we will spend time to analyze each of these five points.

sustainable development goals

Cover picture: giveme-5.org

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