Kenya warns climate change will affect performance in sports

Jack Tuwei

Athletics Kenya President Jack Tuwei delivers his speech during the United Nations Climate Action Hub summit on November 11, 2022 in Egypt’s city of Sharm El-Sheikh.

Photo credit: Pool |

What you need to know:

  • Cabinet Secretary for Sports Ababu Namwamba and Athletics Kenya President Jack Tuwei want the world to walk the talk noting that some parts of the world will soon not host sporting events owing to the rising temperatures.
  • Namwamba said in his speech at the United Nations Climate Action Hub summit on Friday in Egypt’s city of Sharm El-Sheikh, that it is time to propel climate action beyond the historic commitment.

Kenya is worried that things could get worse in the world of sports if drastic steps are not taken to arrest the impact of climate change that is already affecting sportsmen and women’s way of life.

Cabinet Secretary for Sports Ababu Namwamba and Athletics Kenya President Jack Tuwei want the world to walk the talk noting that some parts of the world will soon not host sporting events owing to the rising temperatures.

Namwamba said in his speech at the United Nations Climate Action Hub summit on Friday in Egypt’s city of Sharm El-Sheikh, that it is time to propel climate action beyond the historic commitment.

“The world needs to move with speed from words to actions. The time to act is now,” said Namwamba.

Without action on climate change, Tuwei, who was speaking at the same summit, said that the world is in danger of losing hosting athletics activities in certain places or times impacted by rising global temperatures.

“Now more than ever, the inter-linkage between sport and climate change is evident through the carbon footprint from transportation, the construction and use of sporting infrastructure and the supply chains for sporting equipment,” said Namwamba.

Namwamba said sports can play an important role in addressing the impact of climate change.

“That is why The United Nations General Assembly in Resolution 75/18 recognises Sports as an enabler for sustainable development,” added Namwamba, noting that for the world to achieve this, concerted effort from sportspersons and sporting organisations is required.

Namwamba said that Athletics Kenya has taken a leading role in the world of sport through a commitment to reduce 50 percent of its emissions by 2030 and reaching a net-zero by 2040.

Namwamba added that Athletics Kenya was the first out of the 214 World Athletics member federations to sign and commit to the Sports for Climate Action under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

He said that this framework calls on the sports community to jointly develop a climate action agenda for sport by promoting greater environmental responsibility.

“I, therefore, call on athletics federations from other countries to join Athletics Kenya in championing the cause of climate change to ensure that future generations of athletes also have the chance to break world records in a clean and safe environment.”

Namwamba affirmed Kenyan government's commitment to  support and deliver on the Climate agenda both in the country and globally.

Tuwei noted that global temperatures are now determining the choice of starting and finishing time of athletics events as witnessed during the 2019 World Championships in Doha, Qatar and the 2020 Olympic Games held last year in Tokyo.

“Athletes are not able to deliver their best performance and some suffer after the events due to extreme temperatures. We need to safeguard the athletes and the sport,” said Tuwei, explaining that Athletics Kenya was proud to have the opportunity to join the global efforts on tackling climate change.

“We cannot sit back and wait,” said Tuwei, detailing that Athletics Kenya is currently delivering on the United Nations Sports for Climate Action (S4CA) Framework.

Tuwei said they have installed several air quality sensors in five of our athletics venues and stadiums in Nairobi, Nakuru, Eldoret and Kapsabet.

“We have commenced transfer of the same initiatives across Africa with installation in a stadium in Dakar, Senegal during the Africa Ministerial Conference on Environment and will be followed by more countries,” said Tuwei.

In collaboration with international organisations such as United Motions Environment Program (UNEP) and Stockholm Environment Institute, Athletics Kenya have joint activities that include air quality monitoring in sports facilities and improved waste management.

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