Celebrating Excellence: World Taekwondo Sustainability Awards 2023


Honoring Member National Associations' Dedication to Meaningful Causes


On December 3rd at the World Taekwondo (WT) Gala during the Grand Prix Final in Manchester, UK, the inaugural WT Sustainability Awards were presented to three exceptional Member National Associations (MNAs).


Established to recognize MNAs' impactful contributions to global sustainable development goals through Taekwondo, these awards highlight dedication in WT’s three Focus Areas: Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI) and Community; Health & Well-being; and Environmental Sustainability.


World Taekwondo initiated these awards to spotlight the ongoing efforts of MNAs, fostering a sense of unity and inspiration within the global Taekwondo family. This recognition is a testament to the commitment of MNAs to make a positive impact on communities and the environment. The awards align seamlessly with WT's Sustainability Strategy launched in 2022.


To further support sustainable development initiatives, each category winner received a cash prize of US $10,000, comprising $5,000 in cash and an equal amount in value-in-kind for the year 2024. A distinguished panel of external judges, experts in various aspects of sustainable development, rigorously evaluated each application, ensuring a fair and thorough selection process.


Let's come together to celebrate the outstanding achievements of MNAs, paving the way for a brighter, more sustainable future through the spirit of Taekwondo.


Winning Applications


Diversity, Equality & Inclusion and Community


First place in this category went to Australian Taekwondo for the initiative, "The Path to Gender Balance across the Taekwondo Ecosystem," which successfully achieved transformational change by addressing the significant underrepresentation of women, leading to gender-balanced representation across key roles. The award prize will be used to advance gender balance further, including reshaping traditional definitions of masculinity in the sport and developing strategies to reduce polarization around gender equality in Taekwondo.


Second place went to the Guatemala Taekwondo Federation with their initiative, "Social Programs of the Taekwondo Federation." This unique effort addresses issues like violence against women and engages diverse groups, standing out as the sole national organization with programs for trafficking victims, violence survivors, and marginalized youth. Limited resources and discrimination pose challenges, with the ambition to enhance their impact by expanding coaching, training sessions, and providing Taekwondo uniforms for beneficiaries.


Third place went to the Kenya Taekwondo Federation's "Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Program" which emphasizes the importance of diversity in fostering creativity, innovation, and social cohesion. The program aims to encourage equal participation, reinforce values, campaign for socio-economic progress, and promote personal well-being through Taekwondo activities. Notable achievements include nurturing Paralympic talents, supporting Taekwondo activities in refugee camps, investing in women athletes, and establishing a center for disabled children through collaboration with partners.


Health & Well-being


First place in this category went to the Belgian Taekwondo Federation for the initiative, "Safeguarding officers in clubs," aiming to enhance athlete safety by encouraging clubs to appoint safeguarding officers and providing educational programs for them. This action stands out for its commitment to creating a safe environment for everyone involved in Taekwondo, regardless of rank or role, with an emphasis on accessibility and support for volunteers. Challenges include reaching every club and resource limitations, but the lasting impact involves making safeguarding officers a permanent fixture, raising awareness, and providing quality labels to recognized clubs. The award prize is intended to support more educational programs and awareness campaigns in the future, to create a safe environment for all athletes.


Second place went to the U.S. Taekwondo Federation for the initiative "USA Taekwondo Safe Sport Program & Safest Place to Play, #Not in My Sport" initiative. Prioritizing athlete safety, the program, in partnership with the Center for SafeSport, includes comprehensive training, policies, reporting mechanisms, and sanctions for violators, aiming to exceed safety standards and educate the Taekwondo community about athlete safety. Challenges were overcome by emphasizing the importance of protecting children in sports, and the lasting impact involves ongoing education initiatives, with the ambition to expand seminars, workshops, and mental health courses for athletes.


Third place went to the Ecuadorian Taekwondo Federation for the initiative, "Administering third and fourth level scholarships to benefit the entire Ecuadorian Taekwondo community." This program, emphasizing education as a priority, forms inter-institutional partnerships to provide educational opportunities for athletes, their families, coaches, and officials, aiming to ensure holistic development, access to higher education, and ultimately a better quality of life. The action stands out for its commitment to promoting education through Taekwondo clubs nationwide, addressing dropout challenges, and creating lasting impacts by enabling members to pursue both sports and education, with the future ambition to provide funding for scholarships and sports infrastructure enhancement.


Environmental Sustainability


First place in this category went to the Costa Rica Taekwondo Federation for its initiative, "Promoting a sustainable environment, reducing plastic usage, and tree planting." Focused on reducing plastic bottle usage and tree planting, the federation aims to set an exemplary standard at the national level, emphasizing environmental awareness and conservation among new generations. Overcoming challenges of mindset change, the initiative led to increased interest in environmental activities and positive behavior changes, and the award prize is expected to support a national reforestation campaign and acquire recycling containers for affiliated academies.


Second place went to the Kenya Taekwondo Federation for its initiative, "Taekwondo Turns Green Concept." The initiative involves planting trees during events and championships, aiming to plant 500,000 trees annually. The key performance indicators include the number of championships with tree planting, the annual tree count, and the tree types profiled and marked for inventory management. The federation stands out as the pioneer in spearheading tree planting for sustainable development, collaborating with various stakeholders, and addressing challenges such as limited sponsors and marketing platforms. The lasting impact includes raising awareness of Taekwondo's role in climate advocacy, and the future aim is to enhance key performance indicators and address challenges faced by the initiative.


Noteworthy Applications


Here is a brief summary of the remaining eligible applications, highlighting the admirable efforts of each MNA in their respective categories.


Diversity, Equality & Inclusion


The Lebanese Taekwondo Federation's "Linking Taekwondo and Education" initiative uniquely integrates martial arts and education, fostering discipline and values. Their impact includes hosting the prestigious Asian Taekwondo Championships, boosting athlete motivation, and providing educational opportunities for the youth.


Championing unity beyond sports, the Libyan Taekwondo Federation's "Social Integration" initiative uses virtual platforms for inclusive educational programs. Facing resource limitations, the initiative seeks award support to transition to physical programs and establish a dedicated location for impactful seminars.


Addressing diverse backgrounds, the Nepal Taekwondo Association's "WT-ADF Cares Nepal Project" uplifts underprivileged children through Taekwondo, promoting discipline, empowerment, and confidence. Facing budget limitations, the initiative seeks award support to expand its reach and foster lasting impacts on participants' lives.


The Philippine Taekwondo Association's "Taekwondo for All" initiative unifies the sport across diverse regions, fostering values and discipline through standardized programs, inclusive tournaments, and partnerships with educational and government institutions nationwide.


The UAE Taekwondo Federation's initiative promotes sustainability, inclusivity, and global excellence in Taekwondo, striving for lasting impacts and enhancing the UAE's global standing in the sport. This effort focuses on the development of athletes, promoting inclusivity, and strengthening the federation's role on the international stage.


Health & Well-being


The Botswana Taekwondo Federation’s "Six Series Taekwondo Challenge" revitalizes the sport, prioritizing athlete well-being and sparking interest from the Botswana NOC. The initiative aims to enhance referee and coach training, acquire equipment, cover event costs, and implement youth initiatives.


The Jordan Taekwondo Federation's "National Teams Preparation Center" prioritizes athlete well-being and skill development, resulting in improved international rankings. The initiative aims to make Taekwondo integral to Jordan's identity, with a focus on infrastructure enhancement and potential Virtual Taekwondo training for advanced skills.


The Rwanda Taekwondo Federation's "Professional Taekwondo in School Program" creates jobs, promotes well-being, and identifies talents, addressing societal challenges. It has generated six jobs in 2023 and faces hurdles like school funding. The initiative is known for its broad goals and societal impact, communicated through physical campaigns and official meetings.


Suriname Taekwondo Association's "Striving for mental health fitness and optimal performance of Taekwondo athletes" is a pioneering initiative addressing athletes' mental health with counseling—the first in the country. Through extensive screening, personalized plans, and dedicated funding efforts, it aims for sustainability, actively communicating its mission through various channels.


The application process for the 2024 WT Sustainability Awards will be launched in the coming weeks.