South America, Central America and the Caribbean have largely been absent from the Green-Sports movement. That begins to change on Wednesday, November 17 with the inaugural and free-to-attend Acting Green Forum, the first sustainable summit to emanate from the region. Here is a preview.
WHY IT IS IMPORTANT TO HAVE A GREEN-SPORTS SUMMIT FROM SOUTH AMERICA
Nine FIFA Men’s World Cup Championships¹ and the Amazon rainforest.
The first is a marker for the sporting excellence and passion of Latin America and the Caribbean; the second is the endangered environmental jewel and carbon sink for not only the region but the entire world.
The late Diego Maradona hoists the World Cup for Argentina in Mexico City, 1986 (Photo credit: Carlo Fumagalli/AP)
That is backdrop for the first Acting Green Forum, a full-day virtual Green-Sports summit, that will be hosted from Bogota, Colombia on Wednesday November 17. The event will feature a global roster of speakers but its focus will be on how to 1. Involve athletes, sports organizations and brands from the region in the #ClimateComeback and 2. Integrate South and Central America and the Caribbean into the global Green-Sports Movement.
“Sports, especially football, is the cultural lifeblood of our region of the world,” offered Colombia native and Acting Green Forum founder Guillermo Castro. “The Amazon rainforest, along with rainforests in Costa Rica and elsewhere, are the actual lifeblood of our region and for the rest of the world, for that matter. They are our carbon sinks. That is why we believe strongly that our corner of the world — South America, Central America and the Caribbean — needs to be deeply involved in the Green-Sports movement. From having our athletes lead on the climate conversations to having green businesses connect with sports to show fans that there are better options for products and services for our environment. We created Acting Green Forum to start that process.”
Castro brings decades of sports marketing and media experience — he’s currently a partnership sales executive for the Colombian National Olympic Committee as well as for the Bolivarian Games² — to the Acting Green Forum equation. An entrepreneur at heart, he, along with Colombian Cycling BMX bronze medalist (London 2012) and EcoAthletes Champion Carlos Mario Oquendo, are the driving forces behind Top Athlete Forum (TAF), an organization that helps athletes from Colombia and elsewhere in South America transition to their post-playing careers.
Guillermo Castro (Photo credit: Guillermo Castro)
Rony Epelbaum of Mexico adds a strong Green-Sports background and passion for biodiversity protection to the three-person Acting Green Forum leadership team.
“I am passionate about sports, climate action, biodiversity conservation and our region, ” Epelbaum shared. “Earlier this year I launched Sport For The Wild, a movement seeking to identify and design innovative collaborations across sectors that value the influential power of sport to move the world on those issues. And that is why I am excited that the Amazon Rainforest, and the need to preserve and care for it, is the theme of the first Acting Green Forum.”
Countries from the region have been at the head of the pack at the COP26 global climate conference in terms of carbon emissions reduction commitments. More Epelbaum:
“At COP26, it was encouraging to see the bold commitments of some of the countries in this region such as Ecuador, Colombia, Costa Rica, and Panama to protect valuable ecosystems such as forests and oceans. This is a key region the world in terms of biodiversity and its influence in the rest of the planet’s health, and sport can help communicate this message. This is one of the main purposes of the Acting Green Forum. The experts and athletes will help raise awareness and explain how we can bring sport as part of the equation of solving the climate and biodiversity crises of our time.”
The final member of the Acting Green Forum leadership troika is yours truly. A highlight for me will be moderating an Athletes Panel (3:25 PM Colombia/10:25 PM CET) featuring EcoAthletes Champions Lauren ‘Lu’ Barnes (soccer/USA), Joe Cooke (cricket/UK), Rhydian Cowley (race walking/Australia), and Claudia Galindo (beach volleyball/Colombia). The conversation will focus in part on how leading the #ClimateComeback might differ for athletes depending where they live and play.
ACTING GREEN FORUM SESSION PREVIEW
In addition to the Athletes Panel, here is a sampling of what you can expect from the inaugural Acting Green Forum (all times listed as Colombia or US Central Time, seven hours behind CET):
How Sports Can Act In The Face of Climate Change (8:35 AM)
Lindita Xhaferi-Salihu, Sector Engagement Lead for Climate Action at the UNFCCC, and Claire Poole, the founder of Sport Positive Summit will take a big picture look at the State of Green-Sports, with a focus on where things stand with the UN’s Sports for Climate Action Framework and where they go from here.
Lindita Xhaferi-Salihu (Photo credit: UNFCCC)
Challenges and Opportunities for Athletes Around Climate Change (9:30 AM)
Dr. Jessica Murfree, Visiting Assistant Professor at Texas A&M University and I will discuss what holds athletes back, including those from the Global South, from engaging on climate issues and what can be done to change that equation.
Dr. Jessica Murfree (Photo credit: University of Louisville)
Global Sustainable Business Trends (10:30 AM)
Alejandro Gershberg, director of marketing and consumer insights at Grupo Modelo, the innovative Mexican subsidiary of AB InBev, will share his insights on the growing intersection of sports & sustainable business.
Alejandro Gershberg, Grupo Modelo (Photo credit: Little Black Book)
Leveraging Sport to Advance Sustainability (11:30 AM)
Dr. Brian McCullough, associate professor of sport management and director of the Laboratory for Sustainability in Sport at Texas A&M University, as well as the co-director of Sport Ecology Group, will dive into how sports can make a difference on a variety of sustainability metrics.
Brian McCullough (Photo credit: Texas A&M University)
Valuing and Respecting the Planet (1:40 PM)
Guillermo Gonzalez of the Colombian National Olympic Committee will discuss how the sports world, athletes in particular, can and must use their influence to have a positive impact on the environment.
Colombia National Olympic Committee Sustainability Action Plans (4:55 PM)
Irma Ruíz, a member of the Colombia National Olympic Committee’s executive committee, will offer details on the environmental sustainability initiatives she and her colleagues are putting into place.
Acting Green Forum attendees will be able to choose to listen to the panels and speeches in English or Spanish.
REGISTRATION IS FREE
Click here to register for free. And nos vemos el próximo miércoles en el inaugural Acting Green Forum — see you next Wednesday at the inaugural Acting Green Forum!
¹ Brazil has won five Men’s World Cups, Argentina and Uruguay have each won two.
² The Bolivarian Games are a regional multi-sport event held in honor of Simón Bolívar, and organized by the Bolivarian Sports Organization. The event is open to athletes from Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Panama, Peru, and Venezuela.
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