The United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and Turkish Basketball Federation (TBF) have joined forces to raise public awareness and change the behavioural patterns of individuals to tackle the goals for sustainable development, especially climate action.
The initiative is a first for the UNDP, as well as Turkey, as it is the first agreement signed between the international organization and a sports federation in the country.
The memorandum of understanding, signed on Feb. 17 with an event in the capital Ankara, aims to raise public awareness for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) through sports activities with a “team spirit,” according to Claudio Tomasi, UNDP’s Turkey resident representative.
“As [the] UNDP we see sports as a very important space to reach people, to connect them with the world’s urgent problems and encourage them to take action,” Tomasi said.
“We believe that this step will serve as an example for others both in Turkey and the world,” he added.
Tomasi said that the aim of this agreement is to “create awareness and behavioural change in people.”
He also conveyed that taking an action against the climate crisis, one of the 17 SDGs of the UNDP, is the most important one because “it goes beyond the human dimension.”
For his part, Hidayet Türkoğlu, the head of TBF, also praised the agreement saying it should be a starting point to “give a better future to our children.” He also called on sports clubs and sponsors to support the initiative.
“Our aim is to increase this through basketball and set a good example to our youth,” he said.
Türkoğlu also said that the first action for the agreement will be taken during the upcoming FIBA EuroBasket 2021 qualifiers against the Netherlands on Feb. 21. During the game, the basketball players will use organic towels, waste sorting bins will be ready to use at the court and audience will have their drinks in recyclable cups.
“We are setting off with the philosophy ‘Start with yourself first’ through our national matches,” he said.
“Within this context, we will put our collaboration into practice, through men and women national basketball teams of our federation,” he added.
During the last marathon U.N. climate talks in December 2019, Secretary-General António Guterres said he was “disappointed” by the meeting’s outcome.
“The international community lost an important opportunity to show increased ambition on mitigation, adaptation and finance to tackle the climate crisis,” he said.
Approved in September 2015, the sweeping 15-year agenda approved by the 193 U.N. member states is a global “to-do” list to tackle such issues as climate change, education, hunger, joblessness and land degradation.
The landmark Paris climate change accord established a common goal of keeping temperature increases below 2 degrees Celsius, ideally 1.5 degrees Celsius by the end of the century. So far, the world is on course for a 3- to 4-degree Celsius rise, with potentially dramatic consequences for many countries, including rising sea levels and fiercer storms.
Under the Paris accord, countries are supposed to regularly review their national emissions reduction targets and increase them if necessary.
Scientists said the longer countries wait to cut emissions, the harder it will be to meet the Paris temperature target.
Hurriyet Daily News