The Arctic is one of Earth’s most fragile ecosystems, disproportionally affected by climate change and warming at twice the average rate of the rest of the planet. To garner global attention and support for the rapidly disappearing ice in the Polar regions, Sport and Sustainability International (SandSI) is honored to join with UN Environment in co-sponsoring “The Last Game”.
The Last Game was conceived of and is spearheaded by legendary Russian ice hockey player Viacheslav Fetisov, UN Environment Patron of the Polar Regions. The game will be played about 80 kilometers south of the geographic North Pole, in the last week of April 2020 (initial date: April 2019). Only the players, media and small organizing team will join the expedition to the North Pole. It is expected that The Last Game – with live or nearly-live media coverage worldwide – will attract a significant and influential international audience due to the urgency of decisively addressing climate change.
The Last Game is not just an ice hockey game. It is a trigger for action. It will serve as a magnet for global attention to an issue of global significance requiring global engagement to resolve. It is the first in a series of events, which will live long after the last goal at the North Pole has been scored.
The programme will include a scientific session on climate change in the Arctic, sessions presenting best practices in business climate actions, and a discussion on how to best connect sports and climate action. Arctic countries’ businesses will be able to share their own climate actions, their achievements and what they are committed to do for climate mitigation. Exchanges of experience and environmental practices, as well as understanding that the global business sector needs to step up efforts, inspired by success stories, examples and strong voices from the sports domain, will be key elements of the programme.
This symbolic ice hockey game aims at involving a great diversity of female and male players, including athletes from different disciplines and countries, Arctic indigenous peoples and youth. It will bring together sports and environment as agents of peace and serve as a prelude to the September 2019 Climate Summit of the UN Secretary General.
The Last Game is supported by the UN Secretary-General, His Holiness Pope Francis and Prince Albert of Monaco, the Republic of Sport Foundation and with the support of Grid Arendal. General partners include Pontifical Council for Culture, National Geographic Society, UN Framework Convention on Climate Change and UNOPS. Scientific partners include the World Meteorological Organisation, Climate Leadership Coalition, Sport and Sustainability International and sport partners the NHL Alumni Association and the International Ice Hockey Federation.
In an early November 2018 meeting to obtain support for the event from Finnish President Sauli Niistro, SandSI’s Board Chairman Dr. Allen Hershkowitz joined Jan Dusik, the Director and Regional Representative for UN Environment's Europe Office; Viacheslav Fêtisov, a former professional hockey player from Russia who is the UNEP’s Patron for Polar Regions and the former Russian Minster for Sport, and; Jouni Keronen, the CEO of the Climate Leadership Coalition. At the meeting with President Niistro, SandSI’s Chairman Hershkowitz said “Sport is a non-political unifier that can help promote climate literacy and reduce the cultural polarization that limits our ability to effectively mobilize the world in response to the unprecedented threat posed by climate change”.
The Last Game at the North Pole will include a series of outreach and media events. On February 8th – 10th in Helsinki SandSI will participate in a “Save Pond Hockey” prelude event to The Last Game, including a high-level climate and sport panel and a Save Pond Hockey tournament in which Slava Fetisov will participate.
The aim of the game and related events has multiple objectives:
1. To raise awareness of the rate of global warming, which is changing the face of the Arctic in such a way that it may become nearly ice-free by the summer of 2040 (hence the title of the event).
2. To demonstrate that the Arctic environment is very fragile and important for the well-being of all people on the planet.
3. To focus on interrelated problems tied to Climate Change in the Arctic such as food production, trade, tourism, infrastructure and economic development.
4. To emphasize the value of collaboration, friendship and peace.
5. To present sports as a strong amplifier of the need for climate action and show that it is leading the way in reducing its own carbon footprint.
6. To showcase the holding of sports events with a minimum environmental impact, even in such an extreme setting.
Despite the operational and logistical complexity of the project, The Last Game will be conducted in such a manner that the environmental impact on the fragile Arctic will be minimal. All carbon impacts associated with the preparation and celebration of the game will be kept at the responsible minimum and will be compensated for.
More detailed information about the project is available on the dedicated event website: or can be received from the UN Environment’s project coordinator Jan Dusik (jan.dusik(at)un.org).