UIAA ATTENDS 2019 IF ATHLETE AND SUSTAINABILITY FORUM

The 2019 International Federation (IF) Forum held in the Olympic Capital Lausanne, Switzerland specifically focused on athletes. The event took place from 28 to 30 October under the slogan “for the IFs from the IFs” and covered topics from athlete welfare and mental health, the protection of clean athletes all the way to financial wellbeing. Notably, the importance of strengthening the athletes’ voice and presence within the IFs governing bodies was highlighted.

The UIAA was represented by President Frits Vrijlandt (before his departure for the 2019 UIAA General Assembly) and by Office Project Manager Carol Kahoun for three days of discussion, learning and networking. While the UIAA established athlete representation within its sporting unit, the Ice Climbing Commission, some three years ago, new ideas and development were discussed in terms of gathering official feedback from the ice climbers taking part in the UIAA Ice Climbing World Tour. The next stage is having these ideas represented in other UIAA Commissions or the Executive Board. Athletes within the UIAA Ice Climbing circuit already communicate via a Facebook group, of which the UIAA Event Coordinator, Rob Adie, is also a part of. The cross-communication tool is used to share important information, coordinate travel plans, exchange ideas and source ambassadors.

In a next step, the UIAA will debrief internally on priorities such as toolkits and platforms to be created or shared with and for its athletes. Some tools have already been available and even mandatory for a number of years, such as the Clean Climbing educative test, led by the UIAA Anti-Doping Commission and a mandatory component of athlete registration. Other resources will be made available for the 2019-2020 season which comprises four World Cup events starting in Moscow, Russia in December. An official feedback survey will be shared with athletes afterwards. Most importantly though, the UIAA wishes to continue integrating and supporting not only its competitive athletes, but also climbers and mountaineers worldwide.


On the second day, the IF Forum was followed by what has now become the traditional Sustainability Session. Leaders among international federations have shared their best practices, initiatives and goals in regard to climate action and sustainability. The UIAA, among 14 international sports federations and 80 sports organisations, has signed the UN Sports for Climate Action Framework, the sporting world’s version of the Paris Agreement. Sports for Climate Action works towards two overarching goals: (1) Achieving a clear trajectory for the global sports community to combat climate change, through commitments and partnerships according to verified standards, including measuring, reducing, and reporting greenhouse gas emissions, in line with the well below 2 degree scenario enshrined in the Paris Agreement; and (2) Using sports as a unifying tool to federate and create solidarity among global citizens for climate action (source: UNFCCC).

The UIAA is committed to adhering said goals and the five principles laid out by the framework. Among other actions, the 2018 carbon footprint of the entire organization was calculated and shall soon lead to policy proposals and changes spear-headed by its very own and longstanding UIAA Mountain Protection Commission. The 2019 carbon footprint calculation is underway. Furthermore, an awareness-raising paragraph was integrated into the 2019-2020 UIAA Athlete’s Handbook explaining the impact of the sports footprint and ways to avoid, reduce, minimize, and off-set the emissions each and every one creates. The UIAA encourages all its member associations to commit to the UNFCCC Sports for Climate Action Framework and share best practices, initiatives and awareness-raising campaigns with the UIAA Office (carol.kahoun@theuiaa.org).

The 2019 IF Forum, notably as a platform for exchange and knowledge transfer, was a successful event. It lead to interesting and fruitful conversations not only with various other international sporting bodies, but also the UIAA’s own member associations at the 2019 General Assembly, held the weekend of the IF Forum in Larnaca, Cyprus. Amongst the subjects discussed at the GA were sustainability, climate change and Irina Gladkikh – IOC Associate Director, Winter Sports and Recognised Sports and IF Relations – presented three topics – the Olympic Agenda 2020, Gender Equality and New Norms.

To read more about the GA, click here.

All photos:
Robert Hradil/Getty Images (Source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/sportaccordconvention)

Report by Carol Kahoun, UIAA Project Manager