Qatar vowed to host the first-ever sustainable FIFA World Cup edition, with plenty of provisions in place to deliver on their promise, both on and off the pitch in the competition, despite the vast undertaking of such a competition, which brings 32 teams at the start and millions of fans to the host country.
All of the eight venues at the 2022 FIFA World Cup have also been awarded the GSAS Design & Build Certification, which is a green building standard developed especially for the Middle East and North Africa region, driving sustainability and climate actions in a regional context, focusing on the design, construction and operational phases.
However, there are no plans only for the stadiums to be self-sustainable, but also for other parts of the competition to deliver on the plan, as food will be in high demand, with so many fans coming to see the games live and cheer for their teams.
This is where the “Hifz al Naema” centre comes in, signing an agreement with the tournament’s Local Organising Committee to reduce food waste during the competition that takes place in eight venues in a 50-kilometre radius around the capital Doha.
Under the agreement, the two entities will coordinate the donation and redistribution of surplus and unused food resulting from the tournament to workers and people in need as part of its effort to minimise waste.
The plan is to collect and redistribute thousands of meals from across 12 different locations linked directly to the tournament, from the stadiums and spanning across the FIFA Fan Festival hosted throughout all of Qatar.
Since 2008, Hifz Al Naema, which translates to “Preservation of Blessings” in Arabic, has been a pioneer in Qatar to help people in need, spearheading the efforts in reducing food collecting leftover items from homes, weddings, hotels, restaurants and other places that serve food across Doha. The centre is also the first and oldest food bank and food recovery programme in Qatar and had known resounding success in the past.
Beyond food, the centre has collected clothes, furniture and electronic devices to distribute to people in need, becoming a true good Samaritan in difficult times for many people.
According to the official website of the 2022 FIFA World Cup, Hifz Al Naema is responsible for the redistribution of 3.8 million meals since it started its activity, in 2008.
“The Food Waste Minimisation programme depends on local civilian and social organizations like Hifz Al Naema with the network and resources to not only ensure the safe redistribution of food resources but also to suggest innovative sustainability solutions,” said Jose Retana, the Sustainability Director for FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022.
The joint program is not the first cooperative initiative between Qatar 2022 and Hifz Al Naema, as previously over 1,400 meals were donated and delivered during the FIFA World Cup Draw and Congress in March. Since operations started in some official FIFA World Cup Sites in October 2022, thousands more meals have been donated.
Their vision is stated simply as “a waste-free Qatar” and over the years they have expanded their redistribution activities to include clothing, furniture, appliances, electronics and other goods. To date, Hifz Al Naema have assisted over 3.76 million beneficiaries and delivered over 3.8 million meals.
“A tournament like the FIFA World Cup encompasses much more than just football. Through the partnerships with local government and community organizations, a comprehensive vision for social, environmental and humanitarian sustainability comes to life, benefitting thousands outside the tournament and having a lasting, transformative effect on the local culture of charity and social cohesion,” added Ali Ayed Al-Qahtani, Executive Director of Hifz Al Naema charity.