IOC Welcomes Admission As Observer Organisation to UN Climate Change

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has been granted the status of observer organisation to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
Mar 11, 2024 8:05 AM ET
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This will enable the IOC to engage more effectively with the global efforts to address climate change, underscoring its commitment to reducing emissions and to leveraging the role of sport as an “important enabler” for the United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

“We want to use the power of sport to help address one of the biggest challenges humanity is faced with,” said IOC President Thomas Bach. “Being an observer to the UN Climate Change process gives us an opportunity to contribute to the climate change debate, and build and strengthen relationships in our ongoing mission to build a better world through sport, including where climate change is concerned.”

Being an observer to the UNFCCC process and the Conference of the Parties (COP) will allow the IOC to:

  • Follow the negotiations in order to provide tailored substantive inputs to Parties; and
  • Formally share position papers and submissions to advocate for recognising and mainstreaming the sports sector as a contributor to climate change mitigation efforts.

The UNFCCC is a global agreement on climate change, which forms the foundation for the annual COP meetings. These bring together world leaders, diplomats, scientists, Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs), Inter-Governmental Organisations (IGOs), journalists, and various other stakeholders. COP21 in 2015 produced the historic Paris Agreement, while last year’s COP28 brought agreement on the need to phase out the use of fossil fuels.

As sport globally is increasingly affected by climate change, the IOC has taken a leading role in driving climate action among the sports community. Sustainability is a key element of the IOC’s strategic roadmap, Olympic Agenda 2020 and Olympic Agenda 2020+5, which among other things calls for the Olympic Movement to foster sustainable Olympic Games; strengthen the role of sport as an important enabler for the UN SDGs; and lead by example in corporate citizenship.

As part of this commitment, the IOC has set itself the goal of reducing its own emissions by 30 per cent by the end of 2024, and by 50 per cent by 2030, in line with the Paris Agreement. It is also using its global platform and influence to encourage other sports organisations and fans to follow suit.

In addition to reducing its own emissions, the IOC is creating an Olympic Forest, which aims to bring social, economic and environmental benefits for communities in Mali and Senegal that are heavily impacted by climate change.

In 2018, with UNFCCC, the IOC co-launched the UN Sports for Climate Action Framework, which aims to create a climate action plan for sport. The Framework requires sports organisations to reduce their emissions by 50 percent by 2030, and to report annually on progress. Thirty-four International Sports Federations, 52 National Olympic Committees and the Organising Committees for Paris 2024 and Milano Cortina 2026 have so far joined the Framework.

The IOC has also increased its requirements for the Olympic Games to address climate change. From 2030 onwards, Games organisers will be obliged to minimise direct and indirect Games-related carbon emissions; strive to remove more carbon from the atmosphere than the Games project emits; and use their influence to encourage stakeholders to take climate action.

Already in 2024, the Paris 2024 organisers plan to set new sustainability standards for major sporting events by reducing the Games’ carbon footprint by half compared to the average of London 2012 and Rio 2016. These will also be the first Olympic Games aligned with the Paris Agreement on Climate Change.


The International Olympic Committee is a not-for-profit, civil, non-governmental, international organisation made up of volunteers which is committed to building a better world through sport. It redistributes more than 90 per cent of its income to the wider sporting movement, which means that every day the equivalent of USD 4.2 million goes to help athletes and sports organisations at all levels around the world.


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