ACTS open letter to IFSC protesting against NEOM Beach Games and environmental and ethical policy

The ACTS For Our Summits association has written an Open Letter to the IFSC expressing its concerns about the NEOM Masters 2023 climbing competition, and urging the IFSC to take stronger actions regarding environmental and social issues. Over 110 IFSC athletes, professional climbers, and associations have already co-signed the letter. These include Adam Ondra, Josune Bereziartu, Tommy Caldwell, Catherine Destivelle, Margo Hayes, Alex Megos, Kilian Jornet, Jesse Grupper, Caroline Ciavaldini, Didier Berthod, James Pearson, Symon Welfringer, Siebe Vanhee, Robbie Phillips, Arnaud Petit, Lena Müller and many others.
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The ACTS For Our Summits association has written an Open Letter to the IFSC expressing its concerns about the NEOM Masters 2023 climbing competition, and urging the IFSC to take stronger actions regarding environmental and social issues. Over 110 IFSC athletes, professional climbers, and associations have already co-signed the letter.

Over 110 athletes and organisations have signed an open letter from the Acts For Our Summits (ACTS) association published earlier today and directed at the IFSC International Federation of Sport Climbing, expressing concern abou the participation in the NEOM Masters 2023 that took place in Saudi Arabia in November, and urging the federation to make better decisions and take strong actions in the future regarding environmental and social issues. The open letter is published below in full. The letter can be signed here

Dear Mr. Scolaris,
Dear IFSC Council members and executive board,

From the 22nd to the 24th of November, the International Federation of Sport Climbing organized the IFSC NEOM Masters 2023 as part of the NEOM Beach Games, a sequence of sporting events strategically organized for the promotion of the overarching NEOM project. It is with great sadness and disappointment that we, the undersigned, learned of this event and its implications.

NEOM is a $500 billion futuristic megacity project being built on Saudi Arabia’s Red Sea coast. Greenwashing [7], massive lobbying [3], expropriations [8,9,10],... According to Amnesty International and ALQST (independent Saudian human right NGO), NEOM is an ecological disaster and a violation of human rights [6,9,10].The climbing community cannot accept that its federation is promoting a project of the sort from the Saudi dictatorial regime [1,4]. This project results in the violent expropriation of indigenous populations [10], the killing of political opponents [9] and the irreversible destruction of ecosystems. What was the opinion of the IFSC ethics commission when it was decided that climbing would be part of the NEOM Beach Games?

Moreover, this leads us to a more global environmentalist critique: our attachment to nature and respect for human dignity, inherent in our practice, compels us to ask the IFSC to take its responsibilities in the ongoing fight against the destruction of all living species.

Through this event, we consider that the IFSC has not respected its proclaimed vision "to make the world a better place through sport climbing", its mission of "promoting Sport Climbing through sustainable events", and its value of "preserving the environment in organizing and promoting activities" [5].

In full awareness of the urgent need to act upon climate change and the current ecological and social crisis [2], we, the climbing community, represented by the undersigned, call on the IFSC to readjust and respect its strategic plan 2020-2028 in order to better integrate the environmental and social issues we are facing.

Our specific requests are outlined as follows:
● The creation and financing of an independent Environmental and Ethical Committee in order to ensure the IFSC truly respects its ecological values. This committee would set up the strategy of the federation for its ecological transition, and report with transparency on the concrete completed actions, with the aim of respecting the Paris Agreement (COP21) and the framework of "Sports for Climate Action” (Sports for Climate Action | UNFCCC). This committee would also have the mission of quantifying the carbon footprint, environmental and social impact of IFSC events.

● In terms of sponsoring and events, the renunciation of partnerships with companies that have a proven [2] significant negative ecological and human impact (sector with high GHG emissions: fossil fuels, aviation, automobiles; waste generators: single-use plastic; food products harmful to health, etc.). Thus, we ask the IFSC to end its partnership with "Japan Airlines" and "Toyo Tires".

● A requirement for all members of the IFSC board and its main stakeholders to participate in a substantial education program on the issues of the ecological and climate crisis, as well as a mandatory ecological awareness training module for international athletes and coaches. Guidelines and programs regarding the education and awareness of athletes and stakeholders from the different national federations should be created and implemented.

As a community, we strongly believe that climbing should remain an ethically exemplary sport. Please remember that Sport Climbing won’t be possible in a world "above 4°C" [2].

The ecological crisis is the hardest climb we have faced, let's climb it together!


First signatories:
Public figures who joined the signatories:
Tommy Caldwell, USA, Professional climber, conservationist, lobbyist.
Adam Ondra, CZE, IFSC Athlete
Catherine Destivelle, FRA, Climbing legend
Josune Bereziartu, ESP, Climbing legend
Kilian Jornet Burgada, ESP, Alpinist
Alexander Megos, GER, IFSC Athlete
Paul Jenft, FRA, IFSC Athlete
Margo Hayes, USA, former IFSC Athlete and professional climber
Campbell Harrison, AUS, IFSC Athlete and Paris 2024 Olympian
Jesse Grupper, USA, IFSC Athlete and Paris 2024 Olympian
Solenne Piret, FRA, IFSC Athlete
Hannes Vanduysen BEL, IFSC Athlete
Simon Lorenzi, BEL, IFSC Athlete
Manon Hily, FRA, IFSC Athlete
Camille Pouget, FRA, IFSC Athlete
Julia Chanourdie, FRA, IFSC Athlete and professional climber
Naïlé Meignan, FRA, IFSC Athlete
Nao Monchois, FRA, IFSC Athlete
Nicolas Collin, BEL, IFSC Athlete
Jorge Díaz-Rullo Calvo, ESP, IFSC Athlete and professional climber
Aidan Roberts, UK, professional climber
Ties Vancraeynest, BEL, IFSC Athlete
Diego Fourbet, FRA, IFSC Athlete
Caroline Ciavaldini, FRA, professional climber and former IFSC Athlete
Tina J. Hafsaas, NOR, IFSC Athlete and Bsc Ecology
Thomas Joannes, FRA, IFSC Athlete
Didier Berthod, SUI, Climbing Legend
Lempereur Sven, BEL, IFSC Athlete
Antoine Kauffman, BEL, Youth Belgium national coach
Nicolas Favresse, BEL, Professional climber
Julia Cassou, FRA, Professional photographer
James Pearson, UK, Professional climber
Symon Welfringer, FRA, Professional climber and Alpinist
Siebe Vanhee, BEL, Professional climber
Anthony Gullsten, FIN, Professional climber
Katherine Choong, SUI, Professional climber and IFSC Athlete
Bronwyn Hodgins, CAN, Professional climber
Robbie Phillips, UK, Professional Climber and Filmmaker
Arnaud Petit, FRA, Professional climber and High mountain guide
Lena Müller, GER, Professional climber and ecologist
Emma Twyford, UK, Professional climber
Lionel Daudet, FRA, Mountaineer/adventurer/writer
Sofie Paulus, GER, Climber, researcher, coach
Frank Kretschmann, GER, Professional filmmaker and production company for outdoors
Christophe Dumarest, FRA, Professional climber and High mountain guide
Xavier Cailhol, FRA, High mountain guide

Organization (company, NGO, federation ...) or media:
Éditions du Mont-Blanc
Kilian Jornet Foundation
Protect Our Winter
Le Camp de Base
El Capp Fest
Allez! Podcast
Game Earth Fund
Yak Media
Le pont de Monvert
Kayoo Youtube channel
Aroyo résilience
The Enormocast
Ecopoint Frankenjura
Boulderhalle E4
Une bouteille à la mer
HORUS - sustainability consulting
CEO Sport 1.5
Fanatic Climbing
Squamish Earth First
Women's Bouldering Festival

Drafting editorial group
Nolwen Berthier, professional french climber and ecologist
Soline Kentzel, french climber and activist
Sébastien Berthe, professional belgian climber and activist
Tess Rougemont, french climber and activist
Romane Baze, french climber and activist
Hugo Parmentier, professional french climber and activist
ACTS governing board

1. Amnesty International. « Arabie saoudite : la situation des droits humains ». Consulté le 28 novembre 2023. audi-arabia/.
2. Calvin, K., Dasgupta, D., Krinner, G., Mukherji, A., Thorne, P. W., Trisos, C., Romero, J., Aldunce, P., Barrett, K., Blanco, G., Cheung, W. W. L., Connors, S., Denton, F., Diongue-Niang, A., Dodman, D., Garschagen, M., Geden, O., Hayward, B., Jones, C., ... Péan, C. (2023). IPCC, 2023 : Climate Change 2023: Synthesis Report. Contribution of Working Groups I, II and III to the Sixth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [Core Writing Team, H. Lee and J. Romero (eds.)]. IPCC, Geneva, Switzerland. (First). Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
3. Caramazza, G. (2020, juin 25). Saudi spends $1.7 million on NEOM megacity PR plan. Https://Www.Newarab.Com/; The New Arab.
4. Human Rights Watch. « Arabie saoudite: Événements de 2022 ». In Rapport mondial 2023, 2023.
5. « IFSC UNVEILS 2020-2028 STRATEGIC PLAN ». Consulté le 28 novembre 2023.
6. Musset, A. (2023). Neom et The Line (Arabie saoudite) utopie futuriste ou cauchemar urbain ? L’Information géographique, 87(1), 139 161.
7. NEOM : Made to Change. (s. d.). Consulté 28 novembre 2023, à l’adresse
8. Saudi Arabia : ALQST documents worsening judicial harassment against Al-Howaitat members protesting NEOM megaproject; incl. co. responses. (s. d.). Business & Human Rights Resource Centre. Consulté 28 novembre 2023, à l’adresse worsening-judicial-harassment-against-al-howaitat-members-protesting-neom-megap roject-incl-co-responses/
9. Saudi Arabia : Mass demolitions and forced evictions marred by violations and discrimination. (2022, juin 22). Amnesty International. forced-evictions-marred-by-violations-and-discrimination/
10. The Dark Side of Neom : Expropriation, expulsion and prosecution of the region’s inhabitants. (2023, février 16).

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