- Initiative to highlight urgency of climate action using the power of sport has been showcased at the COP24 Climate Conference in Katowice.
- ‘The last ice hockey game at the North Pole’ becomes an official world ice hockey event and is attracting an ever-increasing range of partners behind the cause.
19 December 2018 - Geneva: Plans for UN Environment’s ‘Last Game at the North Pole’ were taken to the next level at the COP24 Climate conference in Katowice, with world class athletes pledging to join the historic ice hockey match played against the backdrop of disappearing ice in the Arctic, and the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) signing on as an official partner.
The Last Game – UN Environment’s flagship project to stimulate climate action through sports, to be held in April 2019 – is spearheaded by UN Environment Patron for Polar Regions Viacheslav (‘Slava’) Fetisov and has received the backing, among others, of UN Secretary-General António Guterres, Pope Francis and Prince Albert II of Monaco.
Beyond its institutional backing, the International Ice Hockey Federation will provide support on the ground - or rather, on the ice. Its President, René Fasel, has volunteered to be the referee of this unique awareness-raising undertaking. The event is now an officially-recognized international ice hockey game, supported by the IIHF.
Mr. Fasel, who as a Swiss national further symbolizes the Last Game’s neutrality, will oversee the match, which will see two teams featuring celebrities from different sports disciplines face each other at the North Pole. “The IIHF is honoured to be involved with this initiative to combat one of the most serious challenges facing the modern world. Climate change will impact everyone in the coming years, we have to take a more responsible role as stewards of our environment and look for new and innovative ways to raise awareness on this pressing issue”, said René Fasel.
The way in which sport can trigger global citizen climate action has echoed strongly throughout the Climate Conference in Katowice. Slava Fetisov presented the Last Game through a series of events and in numerous bilateral meetings aimed at triggering additional support for the project. The discussion on how to ensure that the Last Game can create the biggest positive impact involved ministers from the Arctic and other countries, heads of relevant UN organizations but also the International Olympic Committee, of which IIHF is a member. In the meantime, the International Paralympic Committee became an official partner for the project and will also have its player on the ice floe – the Canadian sledge hockey World Championship gold medallist Derek Whitson. Iceland will furthermore be sending the world’s fittest woman (2011-2012) and cross-fit professional athlete Annie Thorisdottir to take part in The Last Game.
“In all my meetings in my first global climate conference, I was thrilled to see how big the potential of The Last Game is. The enthusiasm of everyone I spoke to in Katowice – politicians, UN officials, ordinary delegates, media or civil society – about the contribution that the initiative can bring to raise awareness on climate change convinces me that this is exactly the action we now need to undertake,” said Slava Fetisov when leaving the conference.
As one of Earth’s most fragile ecosystems, the Arctic is disproportionally affected by climate change and warming at twice the average rate of the rest of the planet. The Last Game intends to boost climate action by individuals and organizations around the world, through the powerful voice of sports.
NOTES TO EDITORS
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