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Sport England reveals first ever sustainability strategy – will invest £45m in helping sport tackle climate change

The £45 million investment will be used to help sports clubs become sustainable (Image: Sport England)

Sport England has committed £45 million to support grassroots sport tackle climate change.

The funding was announced as part of Sport England publishing its first-ever environmental sustainability strategy, Every Move. The £45 million investment will be used to restore flooded sports pitches and help sports clubs become sustainable.

Additionally, Sport England said it would use the investment to “help more people get active in nature”.

The announcement comes as new research, which forms part of Sport England’s latest Activity Check-in report, reveals that three in five adults and children (60%) say extreme weather has had a negative impact on their ability to be active.

Another recent report, based on a survey on 186 football clubs, showed that 92% of clubs experienced match cancellations due to adverse weather and poor quality grass pitches over the past year (2023-2024).

Sport England chair, Chris Boardman, said: “There is no doubt that our changing climate is already impacting our opportunities, motivation and ability to be active.

“Extreme weather is increasingly making it difficult for us to live healthy, active lives by creating a ‘doom loop’ where people become less motivated and more fearful of injury, with sporting opportunities increasingly cancelled and disrupted.

“Without change now, the government’s target to get 3.5 million more people active by 2030 is very much in jeopardy – and our children will be the ones to suffer most.

“The FA has estimated that 120,000 football games will be lost each year. A third of community pitches are already unplayable for two months of the year due to flooding – and it’s only going to get worse.

“If places to play are unavailable, people will go and do something other than sport and physical activity, leading to small clubs going under and vital community organisations disbanding.”

Revealing its new Every Move strategy, Sport England said it is committing to four key points. These are:

• a requirement that all of Sport England’s 130 system partners, including the national governing bodies of all major recognised sports in England, have robust sustainability action plans in place by March 2027 as a condition of their funding

• to work with partners and stakeholders to ensure end-of-life recycling for all newly funded replacement artificial grass pitches from June 2024, as a condition of funding
• to become a signatory of the UN Sports for Climate Action Framework and act as a global advocate for positive change

• for Sport England to reduce its own carbon emissions by 50% by 2030 and achieve net zero by 2040; including action plans for our national sports centres and supply chain.

“It’s not too late to make a difference,” Boardman added.

“Today’s strategy launch is a vital moment for the sports and activity sector and together we can unite to fight against the impact of climate change.

“Sport holds a privileged position in our nation’s psyche – it can reach and influence millions of people to tackle this global issue.

“It’s time we moved from informing and encouraging to enabling and requiring, and ensure our language leaves no room for the status quo.

“We know the sector wants Sport England to provide support, guidance, and leadership on this issue and Every Move sets out how we have listened.

“As a contributor to climate change through major events and travel, it’s time for us to become part of the solution.”

To read the strategy in full, click here.

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