(List #75) Qatar, Sustainability and Sports

Inspiration from Space, the SDGs in Qatar, FIFA, Football for the SDGs and the power of sport for social change.

(List #75) Qatar, Sustainability and Sports

This week’s List dribbles around the FIFA World Cup in Qatar.

We watched the highlights from some of the FIFA World Cup 2022 matches this morning. The games all happen overnight here. That’s one nice thing about living in Australia; so much happens while we are asleep, so we wake up to lots of exciting new news. All those penalty shots inspired me to write a List this week on the World Cup. However, I decided, for my mental health and limited time this morning, not to dive into the sustainability issues around the hosting of the event itself in Qatar. Instead, I’m dribbling around the issues here, exploring how different schools are looking at the topic of sustainability in sport more broadly.


Qatar University recently hosted the Global Sustainability Space Challenge, a competition organised alongside the FIFA World Cup with a number of international partners and supported locally by the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change. The competition aims to give students “the opportunity to shape the future of the Earth by proposing novel and innovative ideas to utilize space for the benefit of various areas and fields and to integrate space with the ongoing terrestrial efforts toward a more sustainable way of living and producing”.  It also states that “there is virtually no earthly challenge that cannot be somehow addressed via space capabilities”. Over 1000 students from 30 countries in multidisciplinary teams globally were invited to find innovative solutions to tackle pressing issues relating to the SDGs.


I spent some time going through the websites of business schools based in Qatar. There is very little on the SDGs or sustainability more broadly. Qatar University was the exception. They have a website that outlines their contributions to the 17 SDGs although this is primarily focused on research. I wasn’t able to find any mention of these terms on Carnegie Mellon University Qatar’s website  (via Search function). But if you insert individual SDG related keywords, more bits come up, although very little of it recent. Al Rayyan International University College also had no mention on their website. This doesn’t mean it isn’t there, just that I as an interested party can’t find it. Interestingly, both schools are in partnership with schools in other countries that are engaging in the SDGs. Why not in Qatar?


Simon Chadwick, a professor at emlyon business school has recently published The Business of the FIFA World Cup. It explores the global context in which the World Cup takes place. Although I haven’t read it yet, there is a chapter specifically on environment and sustainability (although many of the other chapters are relevant as well). If after reading that you decide you would like to get into the business of the FIFA World Cup, I found that FIFA offers a Diploma in Club Management. Interesting, the only mention of CSR (CSR…which I generally take to be an older version of the issues we are discussion now), is part of the Fan Engagement part of the course. The curriculum is void of any mention of corruption or bribery or any other issues that I’d think would be directly relevant to a club (granted, I have no experience managing a soccer club…but still). I emailed them to see if there was more…no news yet. Here is FIFA World Cup’s page on its alignment with the SDGs.


The UN has recently launched Football for the Goals which encourages the global football community (clubs, fans, players etc) to use their visibility and outreach power to raise the profile of the SDGs. Members commit to sustainably policies and practices, implementing and advocating the SDGs, a human rights-based approach, equality and equity (including gender) and climate action. How they do these things is not explained, but given it was only launched in 2022, I’ll be checking back in later to see. There are lots of Signatories from around the world, but no Universities. Could we not tap into University football teams (and any other team) to also promote the SDGs? Interestingly, FIFA isn’t actually listed as a signatory. The UN also sells these soccer/football (whatever you call it) with the 17 SDGs printed on it so you can kick the Goals around as much as you like (available here for $49.99USD).

+This list of signatories though makes a good checklist for potential partners if you would like to use sports to explore the SDGs.


The Haub School of Business at Saint Joseph’s University in the US offers a business course on the Power of Sport for Social Change.  These courses introduce students to the historical and contemporary use of sport as a vehicle for social change and development. Students examine the myriad ways in which sport produces social change, both within sport itself and through sport (using sport as a platform to effect social change in the larger society). Students critically assess the use of sports globally to explore topics such as, race, gender, LGBTQIA, politics, and the relationship between protest and national attachment. Students are also involved in a weekly service-learning component, where they work with a local sports based youth development not for profit.

+ THE UN also developed this toolkit on The Contribution of Sports to the Achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals which can give you some more ideas on how you could use sports to engage in the SDGs.

A Few Extra Bits and Pieces…

I recently did a webinar with the UK/Ireland PRME Chapter on SIP reporting. The recorting is available on their website.

Lately I’m interested in what headlines say vs what the actual news/study is. For example, take this one:

  • Headline: Snacking on Almonds can Help People Reduce Calorie Intake: Study.
  • Study: ‘There is no significant difference in total energy intake or energy from core between almonds and a carbohydrate rich snack bar’.

NASA will study how hidden ocean swirls soak up heat of global warming

Can we grow the economy without destroying nature?

Rediscovering Calabria’s Mystical White Olives

Applying a Gender Lens to Sustainable Procurement (new toolkit from Global Compact)

Campus Race to Zero Waste is a North American competition to reduce waste on campus.

Youth climate movements get too little climate philanthropic funding

There are lots of really interesting Climate Change literacy courses online, including this one from Nottingham Trent University and Nottingham Business School.

I listened to this while compiling list this week. in case you are in the mood for music.