World Cup Qatar 2022 and Achieving Sustainability


Throughout the past decade, the International Federation of Football Association (Fédération Internationale de Football Association – FIFA) has been concerned with environmental and climate change issues; it was the first sports association to join the United Nations Sports for Climate Action Framework in 2016. FIFA has been concerned with protecting planet Earth and has worked to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in major football events such as the World Cup; they started the implementation in the World Cup in Brazil, then Russia, and now Qatar. Qatar has pledged to present a carbon-neutral version of the World Cup, and that it will be the most sustainable version. Qatar's sustainability strategy is based on five pillars: economic, social, environmental, humanitarian, and governance. In this article, we will focus on the environmental pillar.

First of all, let us know the concept of sustainability and carbon neutrality. Sustainability, as defined by the United Nations, is: "meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs". Thus, the activities of the individuals and society must be harmless to the environment, so that future generations can live in peace. The concept of carbon neutrality is balancing between the amount of carbon emissions generated by different activities and the amount of carbon emissions removed.

For the World Cup to become carbon-neutral, the authorities involved in organizing the World Cup have worked on many levels to achieve this, such as sustainable construction, greenhouse gas emissions reduction, improving air quality, waste management, and water conservation.

Sustainable Construction

Building and construction processes generate huge amounts of carbon emissions, so stadiums, training venues, and infrastructure are built according to the sustainable construction criteria. This includes reducing dust on the construction sites by using treated water, in addition to reducing waste and carbon emissions by using available building material resources. Stadium 974 is an example of this; it was built using shipping containers and is the first detachable stadium in the history of World Cup tournaments. Moreover, 90% of the materials used in the construction of Ahmed Bin Ali Stadium were from the old stadium carrying the same name.

Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reduction

Flights contribute to the increase of greenhouse gas emissions; due to the small area of the country, there will be no need for using flights to move between stadiums as in previous tournaments, since you can move from one stadium to another in less than an hour. The means of transportation to be used during the tournament will be environmentally friendly, such as the metro, electric buses, and trams. Among the methods used to reduce emissions is the use of solar energy in lighting stadiums and in cooling units. In addition to using the afforestation strategy, increasing green areas to absorb carbon dioxide and increasing the percentage of oxygen.

Air Quality Improvement

To improve air quality, the amount of dust resulting from the construction processes must be reduced by using treated water and monitoring air quality during the tournament through air quality monitoring stations in stadiums. That is in addition to using clean transportation, increasing plants and trees, and raising awareness about the importance of plants through different initiatives. One of these initiatives is the initiative to plant  a million trees, aiming to increase the green area by planting seedlings of trees suitable for the Qatari environment, such as Sidr and Ghaf plants. Increasing the green area helps reduce air pollution and carbon emissions, and increases biodiversity. The initiative also aims at using treated water to irrigate trees, in order to conserve water.

Waste Reduction

Several strategies were followed to reduce waste during construction and recycling strategies, and awareness campaigns were launched such as the One Wave campaign, which aims at raising awareness of the risk of plastic pollution and its impact on marine life and oceans. This campaign also calls for reducing the use of single-use plastics.

Water Conservation

To conserve water and rationalize its consumption, several strategies were followed, such as the use of treated water to get rid of dust, irrigation, and cooling. Some additions were also provided to the stadiums that allow conserving water, such as adding motion sensors in the taps in the toilets, in addition to water leak detection systems.

We have introduced a summary of the preparation and the strategies followed in order to provide a carbon-neutral championship that will be a model for upcoming championships.


Banner Image: Stadium 974. Source: Al Araby Television Network.

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