World Rugby has launched its Environmental Sustainability Plan 2030 which has revealed a strategy to tackle sustainability issues that both affect and are affected by rugby.

A main focus of the structure is cutting 50% of its carbon emissions in the next eight years without using offsetting, alongside engaging stakeholders to follow suit starting with its playing population.

World Rugby Chairman, Sir Bill Beaumont, commented: “The climate crisis is arguably the biggest challenge facing humanity and our planet’s fragile ecosystems. It is affecting all areas of our lives and with it, our ability to play the sport we love.

“Although the climate and environmental impact of rugby and all its associated activities is relatively minor compared with other sectors, it is our moral responsibility to be strong advocates for environmental and social responsibility and show leadership through accountability, positive action and good governance.”

The organisation has stated that storms, floods, fires and drought attributed to global warming are devastating communities, and without immediate and meaningful action, the rugby family will be amongst all other groups, communities and ecosystems affected globally.

“Following extensive work and consultation, we are very proud to be presenting our Environmental Sustainability Plan 2030. It is both a statement of intent and a tangible roadmap for tackling the environmental sustainability issues that both affect our sport and are affected by our sport,” Beaumont added.

“It is the beginning of a meaningful and exciting journey for all involved in rugby to play their part in tackling climate change, inspiring fans and our member unions to act and achieve our shared ambition to be a responsible sport.”

The plan has been outlined with three priority themes. Firstly, it aims to address the carbon footprint of rugby with adaptation measures to stay in line with the 2015 Paris Agreement and use rugby’s platform to spread awareness and advocate for climate action. 

Secondly, making a circular economy (managing materials and resources) by addressing issues of single-use plastic, short-life materials and waste management. Finally, a natural environment protection in addressing how rugby can help sustain ecosystems and promote healthier environments wherever it is played.

Jamie Farndale, Scotland & Great Britain Sevens international and a sustainability advocate, added: “It is very inspiring to see World Rugby recognising the responsibility it has with regards to the environment. 

“This plan is ambitious, measurable and detailed. It sets out a clear roadmap to a more sustainable future for the sport, leading from the front and bringing the rest of the rugby world with it. I am particularly excited by the ambition to hold climate positive events. Rugby has the opportunity to become an environmental leader in sport, demonstrating the way forward for others.”

Overall, World Rugby is aiming to have a positive impact on the natural environment by 2025, to reduce the number of short-life items produced for World Rugby competitions by 80 per cent by 2027 and making sustainability a material consideration in all World Rugby decision making processes, including the awarding of Rugby World Cups.

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