Nigeria's 100 metres hurdles world record holder and world champion Tobi Amusan is among the nine Champions for a Better World ©Getty Images

World Athletics has launched a Champions for a Better World programme, with nine athletes initially set to support its campaigning for sustainability in sport.

The 100 metres world record holder and world champion Tobi Amusan of Nigeria, Australian two-time women's javelin world champion Kelsey-Lee Barber and Brazil's men's 400m hurdles world champion Alison Dos Santos are among World Athletics' first Champions for a Better World.

Barber and Dos Santos are joined by another Tokyo 2020 Olympics bronze medallist in Burkina Faso's Hugues Fabrice Zango from the men's triple jump.

New Zealand's Rio 2016 women's pole vault bronze medallist Eliza McCartney is also a Champion for a Better World.

Pole vaulter Ernest John Obiena of the Philippines and high jumper Elena Vallortigara of Italy, both bronze medallists at the Eugene 2022 World Athletics Championships, are joined by American discus thrower Sam Mattis and Swiss sprinter Ajla Del Ponte to complete the initial line-up of nine athletes.

As well as campaigning for sustainability in sport, the Champions for a Better World are expected to encourage more athletes to take an active role in addressing environmental concerns.

World Athletics President Sebastian Coe emphasised the role athletes can play in addressing climate change.

"It's clear that an overwhelming majority of our athletes are very concerned about the impacts that climate change is having on their lives and on our sport," the Briton, an International Olympic Committee member, said.

"It's critical for us to act on those concerns, to put practical applications in place where we can, and to drive the sport forward with the advocacy and the high-profile voices that athletes can bring."

A World Athletics survey of 737 athletes showed that more than 76 per cent of respondents are seriously concerned or very concerned by climate change and more than 66 per cent feel directly impacted by its effects.

Around 90 per cent of respondents expressed a belief that World Athletics should address sustainability in sport, with more than 77 per cent willing to change their lifestyle to reduce the impact of their activities on the environment.

The United Nations (UN) Climate Change Conference, referred to as COP27, is due to open in Sharm El Sheikh on Sunday (November 6).

World Athletics was among the organisations to present at the Sport at COP Day of Action event held at COP26 in Glasgow last year.

It is a signatory of the UN Sport for Climate Action Framework and has a Sustainability Strategy which includes the goal of carbon neutrality by 2030, with a pathway for member federations and licensed events to follow suit by 2040.

Earlier this year, it launched the Every Breath Counts campaign encouraging people around the world to sign a Declaration for Clean Air.

However, concerns over the speed and scale of climate change have escalated further in the last year, and campaigners have called for more radical action to be taken globally.