The 2022 FIFA World Cup Qatar is going to be unique on many fronts. Yet another indication in this regard is the first-ever joint FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Sustainability Strategy presented by Qatar and FIFA and published last week. The fact that the commitments outlined include developing human capital, safeguarding workers’ rights and delivering innovative environmental solutions are proof for the far-reaching vision.
The inclusion of a full human rights salience assessment in the development process for the strategy is a first for a mega-sporting event. The issues and initiatives that form the framework of the strategy, were identified with the help of a thorough and continuous consultation process with local and international stakeholders, and thematic experts through surveys, workshops, meetings and the circulation of drafts, as explained by the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy (SC) and FIFA.
Throughout the process, over 100 national and international governmental, non-governmental and private sector organisations were consulted. It was five years ago that FIFA and the SC began to develop and implement the event’s Sustainability Strategy – the first to be planned and delivered jointly by FIFA, the host country and the local organisers, represented in this case by the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 LLC (Q22).
The associated policy applies to all functional areas and projects involved in the preparations for and staging of the tournament, in addition to post-event activities. The five sustainability commitments are: to develop human capital and safeguard workers’ rights; to provide an inclusive tournament experience; to catalyse economic development; to deliver innovative environmental solutions; and to set an example of good governance and ethical business practices.
A total of 22 objectives have been described in detail, together with more than 70 concrete initiatives and programmes to deliver the strategy and achieve the objectives set. As pointed out by Hassan al-Thawadi, SC secretary-general and Q22 chairman, when Qatar bid to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup, it did so with a vision to use the tournament as a catalyst for sustainable, long-term change in Qatar and across the Arab world.
FIFA secretary-general Fatma Samoura has described the 2022 FIFA World cup as a unique opportunity to bring about positive change. In her view, the Sustainability Strategy is also in line with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. As pointed out by Ambet Yuson, general secretary of the Building and Wood Workers’ International (BWI), the SC, in particular, has taken the risk and broken new ground by going far beyond declarations to form a partnership with the BWI in order to conduct joint safety inspections and train elected workers’ representatives. This is action on the worksite and not mere words and promises of reforms. It is making a difference for construction workers.
In the strategy, FIFA and the other tournament organisers commit to expanding these efforts to cover workers in other sectors involved in delivering the tournament. This work has already begun. The workers’ rights legacy of the 2022 tournament will be more meaningful once these initiatives are implemented for all workers in Qatar – in construction and beyond.
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