1998 FIFA World Cup winner Youri Djorkaeff was in Brazil this week to lend his support to the ‘Gigaton Challenge’, a series of initiatives launched by UPL Ltd to promote sustainable methods to reduce carbon dioxide levels equivalent to one gigaton over the next two decades.

Djorkaeff, now CEO of the FIFA Foundation, was joined at the event in Sao Paulo by 1994 FIFA World Cup winner and former Brazil national team coach Dunga, and four-time FIFA Women’s World Cup player Rosana.

The collaboration between the FIFA Foundation and UPL Ltd forms part of a Memorandum of Understanding, announced in August 2020. The partnership was created with the explicit goal of joining forces to promote sustainable development in agriculture and education in society through the power of football.

Addressing delegates at the launch, Djorkaeff spoke of his – and FIFA’s – passion for such initiatives, highlighted how collaborations between sport, governments and NGOs can act as powerful catalysts for large-scale change.

He said: “As a former professional player, I understand the power of football and its incredible ability to influence society in a positive and meaningful way. The raison d’être of the FIFA Foundation is to help promote positive change in communities worldwide, especially in the most disadvantaged countries.

“It is great to see UPL using its power to effect positive social change in the areas of community building, education, health, equality and inclusion, dialogue and peace. As part of our Memorandum of Understanding, together we will aim to bring strengths and networks that can transform sustainable development across the world and help us reach this shared goal of a greener, fairer future.”

As part of the Challenge, UPL, a leading global provider of agriculture productions and solutions – with a presence in over 130 countries – will create new carbon credits to incentivise and support farmers for adopting sustainable and regenerative practices. They suggest the Gigaton Challenge can generate USD 15 billion of additional income for farming ecosystems worldwide.

The Challenge will initially launch pilot programmes in Brazil, Argentina, India, the USA, and a number of European countries. During this phase, the project aims to aggregate one million hectares before scaling up globally in 2025 with the target of impacting more than 100 million hectares around the world, equivalent to 100 million football pitches.

Mauricio Macri, Executive Chairman of FIFA Foundation, added his own words support for the collaboration. He tweeted: “I am very pleased to announce the agreement between FIFA and UPL to work together on two key objectives of the Foundation: sustainable development and education.

“We will work to reduce carbon dioxide emissions and reward smallholder farmers who adopt sustainable practices, such as reducing water consumption while improving food production.

“In the field of education, UPL will collaborate with the “Football for Schools” programme, designed to develop digital skills and promote values in schools in vulnerable contexts through sport. I am very excited about the work that awaits us.”

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