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Earth Day: the commitment of cycling and other sports to protect and help restore nature

April 22 2023

On Earth Day today, we focus on the Sports for Nature Framework - signed by the UCI in December last year - and its objective to help slow the decline of biodiversity.

Earth Day: the commitment of cycling and other sports to protect and help restore nature

With biodiversity under greater threat than ever, the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) has taken several steps in an effort to slow the decline of this vital network of ecosystems. After including biodiversity as one of the eight commitments of its UCI Climate Action Charter, the UCI went further at the end of 2022 by becoming a founding signatory of the Sports for Nature Framework.

WHAT IS BIODIVERSITY?

Biodiversity is the total variety of living things in an area—the variety of animals, plants, fungi, and even microorganisms that make up our natural world. Each of these species and organisms works together in ecosystems to maintain balance and support life. Ecosystems provide a range of ‘services’ essential to sustaining livelihoods and supporting our way of life, health, and well-being.

Biodiversity is affected by climate change, pollution, waste, the introduction of invasive species, and the over-exploitation of natural resources with negative consequences for human well-being.Climate change impacts biodiversity in numerous ways, including temperature rises, flooding, wildfires and drought.

SOME SOBERING STATISTICS

Biodiversity is declining faster now than at any point in human history

Since 1970, there has been an average 60% decline in global populations of mammals, fish, birds, reptiles, and amphibians

25% of all animal and plant species are threatened with extinction

The planet is facing three interconnected crises – climate change, pollution and biodiversity loss – which put humans at risk of irreversibly changing our relationship with the natural world. Achieving net zero climate targets without considering biodiversity will be impossible.

The threat posed by climate change to biodiversity is expected to increase, but biodiversity plays a vital role in both climate change mitigation and adaptation. Healthy ecosystems can store carbon and help protect us from the impacts of climate change. Nature-based solutions – focused on ecosystem conservation, restoration and management – can provide up to 30% of the carbon uptakeand storage required to keep the global temperature rise to 1.5°C by 2030.

THE SPORTS FOR NATURE FRAMEWORK

That is where the sports community and its Sports for Nature Framework comes in.

The Sports for Nature Framework has one overall objective: to deliver transformative nature-positive action across sports by 2030 and beyond. By protecting and restoring nature, all sports organisations can play a vital role in climate mitigation and adaptation where they’re based, also setting an example to the wider public.

The Framework asks sports organisations to work towards four principles:

  1. Protect nature and avoid damage to natural habitats and species
  2. Restore and regenerate nature wherever possible
  3. Understand and reduce risks to nature in their supply chains
  4. Educate and inspire positive action for nature across and beyond sport.

The Sports for Nature Framework was launched at the Convention on Biological Diversity 15th Conference of the Parties meeting (COP15) in Montreal in December 2022.

Co-created by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the International Olympic Committee (IOC), United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), in collaboration with the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), the Sports for Nature Framework aims to deliver transformative action for nature across sports, by 2030 and beyond, enabling sports to champion nature and contribute to its protection and restoration.

Signatories to the Sports for Nature framework commit to develop and implement action plans for each of the four principles listed higher up and report on their progress annually to an expert panel. Through an IUCN partnership with Sails of Change, signatories to the Framework receive technical support, customised tools and training to assist them on their nature journey.

The UCI invites all cycling organisations to sign the Sports for Nature Framework and make measurable contributions to support the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework and UN Sustainable Development Goal targets to halt and reverse biodiversity loss by 2030.

2023 UCI CYCLING WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS – KEEPING OUT INVASIVE, NON-NATIVE SPECIES

In 2021, the UCI Sustainability Guidelines were developed in collaboration with the IUCN and the IOC to raise awareness and share best practices for mitigating our events’ impacts on biodiversity.

In this vein, the UCI recently collaborated with the IUCN, NatureScot, and Scottish Forestry to develop specific guidance to help prevent the introduction of non-native species to Scotland during the upcoming 2023 UCI Cycling World Championships.

The spread of invasive non-native species (INNS) is becoming a major issue because they compete with native plants and wildlife, which can cause significant changes to entire ecosystems that harm the economy, environment, and human health.

The introduction or spread of INNS can occur when sports equipment, clothing, footwear, or vehicles are contaminated with seeds, spores, eggs or larvae. If these manage to survive, thrive and become established, they can pose a serious threat to native species and their ecosystems.

Everyone visiting Scotland for the 2023 UCI Cycling World Championships, from spectators to teams, can help prevent the introduction of INNS by following this simple ‘Keep it Clean’ biosecurity routine:

Before travelling to a 2023 UCI Cycling World Championships event location, please check and clean your bike and equipment using the guidance below. Don’t give invasive species an easy ride!

1. CHECK bikes, equipment, clothing, and vehicles for any soil, dirt, mud, or plant material. Pay particular attention to areas that are damp or hard to inspect, for example under mud guards or treads in tyres. Seeds can also collect in the dust at the bottom of your bags, so be sure to shake your bags and bike travel case before packing.

2. CLEAN and wash all equipment thoroughly with water. Ensure that anything washed off is contained and disposed of onto a surface, such as gravel or hard-standing ground, where it can be dried out and prevented from entering any watercourse or drainage system.

Brush off shoes, clothes, and equipment to dislodge seeds that may be attached. A stiff brush works best, but your hand or cloth can also work.

Some event locations may have designated cleaning stations, if so please check and clean your bike and equipment on-site before leaving the event location.

3. REPEAT: Don’t forget to check and clean before visiting another 2023 UCI Cycling World Championship event or other locations around Scotland and Great Britain.

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