How did Hockey World Cup 2023 become water sustainable?

The 2023 Hockey World Cup organised by Hockey India in Odisha became the world’s 1st water sustainable World Cup across sports thanks to Watergen, a company that makes water from air


In 2018, the US Open began addressing the detrimental effects of climate change by introducing a new tournament policy. Two years later, the poor air quality due to the rampant wildfires in Australia caused organisational problems at the Australia Open, forcing a few athletes to backout. Most recently, the Tokyo Games were impacted by extreme heat and heavy rains due to tropical storm Nepartak.

There is limited but increasing evidence about the interconnections between sport and climate change. One study by the University of Waterloo predicts that if the world’s high emissions continue on their current path, all but one of the 21 host cities of the Winter Games — Sapporo, Japan — will be unable to do so again by the 2080s.

Fortunately, just as the world has started taking climate change more seriously, the sports competitions that are being held in India have started to pay heed to these threats as well. A recent example of this is Hockey India, which has adopted sustainable practices this year to minimise its carbon footprint, hoping to inspire the world to follow suit.

How the world cup became sustainable

The 2023 Hockey World Cup is the world’s 1st water sustainable world cup across sports, claims Hockey India. According to them, while incorporating sustainability into sports, they had two major goals to achieve.

The rising temperatures and humidity have an impact on athletes’ physical abilities. After a day of exercising in the heat, their bodies become unable to cool themselves, resulting in severe exhaustion, cramps, and dizziness.

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While this kind of a giant event requires an unlimited supply of fresh, safe drinking water, water is a precious resource and is getting scarcer day by day. So, to address these pressing issues and to drive sustainability in sports, Hockey India decided to lead the way by creating drinking ‘water from air’ sustainably for the FIH Odisha Hockey Men’s World Cup 2023.

And in this revolutionary move, Watergen- an Israeli tech solutions provider converted air into more than 2 lakh litres of clean, fresh mineral drinking water for this event, using its patented technology.

“Hockey India identified Watergen and reached out to us with the idea of making this world cup ‘water sustainable,” says Chaitanya Jaipuria, Director, Watergen India.

During a sporting event, we can collectively reduce environmental damage and educate everyone about living sustainably by employing eco-friendly practises, he further adds.

“We chose to collaborate with hockey because it is the national sport. We want to reach out to as many people as possible to inspire and assist them to discover new environmentally friendly practises. To address the issue of drinking water, we wanted to end supply chains that emit a lot of carbon dioxide and plastic waste which is harmful to the environment. This way we reduced the amount of water bottle plastic waste. Water being a necessity, was made available for free consumption alongside Watergen’s packed glass water bottles,” he asserts.

Students at the Watergen water stall at the Hockey World Cup 

According to the Watergen India team, the partnership with the Hockey World Cup 2023, was the right opportunity at the right time to set an example for a sustainable future by using technology.

“Our partnership with Hockey India is an effort to make sports sustainable by using air to create water. This is a great opportunity to increase awareness about the technology and the pressing need for it,” Jaipuria avers.

To provide the athletes and the audience with fresh water, Watergen installed their patented Atmospheric Water Generators (AWG) at their own cost to support the initiative by Hockey India. “The planning was started months ago as it was such a big event. Our teams inspected the venue and made a plan about how and in what number these machines are to be installed. We placed a total of 35 machines, with four backup machines in both the stadia in Odisha,” he tells us.

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To elaborate, Watergen installed machines such as the GEN-L (capable of producing up to 6000 litres of water), the GEN-M Pro, (capable of producing up to 900 litres of water), and the GENNY (capable of producing up to 30 liters per day) on the grounds of the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar and in the Birsa Munda International Hockey Stadium in Rourkela. These machines produced more than 2 lakh litres of water for this event.

“This genius technology can create sufficient premium drinking water for private homes, offices and even entire towns and villages. We hope that this partnership will increase the awareness about such (water from air) technologies in India and will inspire more businesses and other organisations to adopt it, thereby making the sports sector sustainable,” he further points out.

Navigating ahead of World Cup

As the world’s most populous country, India is under extreme pressure to meet everyone’s need for clean, fresh water. According to a recent study, significant regions of northwest and southern India will have “critically low groundwater supply” by 2025. By 2050, the country is likely to face severe water scarcity.

According to Jaipuria, so far Watergen has been instrumental in helping to do this by deploying its machines in more than 90 countries worldwide to satisfy their water needs. And going ahead, their goal is to provide fresh clean drinking water to everyone, he says.

Sports is a huge influencing factor. Because its reach is extensive across all social and geographical groups, it makes an effective tool to influence people. Also, promoting sustainability practices and educating the public about environmental issues such as global warming, can be accomplished through sports.

“Undoubtedly, the Hockey India World Cup is a stepping stone for us,” Jaipuria asserts.

“Watergen’s products are made to meet the needs of the Indian market, which is important to the company’s growth. We are confident that this will be a significant turning point in India’s sustainability path and a step towards providing the Indian people with access to fresh, clean and safe drinking water, which is essential to their survival,” he further adds. Although the company refuses to comment on the revenue opportunities of this initiative, it is hoping to work on a lot more such projects as they go ahead into the next financial year.

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