Rio de Janeiro, 9 October 2012 - As Brazil prepares for the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Summer Olympics, the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) Tuesday released a report on the environmental performance of South Africa 2010 that highlights both successes and lessons that should be learned to ensure the sustainability of both events in Brazil.
The independent review showed that South Africa 2010's carbon footprint was far lower than projected, due to fewer visitors than expected, carpooling and Park and Ride schemes, and efficient stadia that cut energy use by an estimated 30 per cent. Solar-powered technology and renewable energy use also contributed to the lower profile.
The actual footprint was 1.65 million Tonnes of CO2 equivalent, compared to a projection of 2.64 million.
UNEP worked with the South African government through the Green Goal 2010 project to promote initiatives such as cutting the tournament's carbon footprint, reducing waste and water use, and conserving and enhancing biodiversity. Such initiatives are set to be pushed to the next level in Brazil with the aim of creating truly green events.
While the Global Environment Facility-funded review of South Africa's green performance found many successful initiatives, it said that a lack of focus on environmental considerations in the planning phase of the tournament meant the full potential was not achieved.
"The report points to many great initiatives, but perhaps the most important finding is that South Africa could have achieved more if sustainability measures had been brought in sooner rather than later," said UN Under-Secretary General and UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner. "Indeed, it underlines that achieving the full potential of greening such tournaments is likely if sustainability is factored into the planning, design and construction from the word go."
Despite some difficulties in compiling enough data to fully evaluate the green performance of the tournament, the report highlighted many specific examples of success, including the following:
- Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban incorporated energy-efficient intelligent lighting as part of its Building Management System to reduce energy usage by 30 per cent, while Green Point Stadium in Cape Town additionally used natural ventilation systems to cut power use.
- Cape Town retrofitted streetlights with low-energy bulbs and traffic lights with LEDs to cut its emission profile.
- Durban offset its carbon footprint through carbon sequestration, planting 104,000 trees, and planned other measures such as hydropower and biogas schemes to completely account for the city's carbon footprint of 307,000 Tonnes of CO2 equivalent.
- A 94-kilometre Bus Rapid Transport network was constructed in Johannesburg, while similar networks, cycle paths, Park and Ride systems and walkways were built in Nelson Mandela Bay, Mbombela, Polokwane, Mangaung and Rustenburg. All of these measures contributed to cutting the event's carbon footprint.
- Moses Mabhida Stadium - which used water metering, water-wise fittings and rainwater harvesting into a 700m2 underground storage facility - cut potable water use by 74 per cent, while Green Point Stadium met its target of a 10-per-cent cut.
- Two- and five-bin systems were used in most spectator and catering areas, which in Durban led to almost 200 tonnes of waste generated during matches being recycled - beating the Green Durban 2010 target for waste by 4 per cent.
- 95 per cent of demolition waste was recovered and reused from the old stadium in the building of Green Point Stadium, Cape Town. In Moses Mabhida, 400 tonnes of steel and 400 tonnes of bricks, masts, control gear, topsoil and seating were salvaged for use in the new stadium and other projects.
- The tournament backed the International Year of Biodiversity, with a park set up in Cape Town and a greening programme including removal of alien species of vegetation and the rehabilitation of wetlands in Mbombela. Awareness-building programmes were carried out in schools in Johannesburg.
Separately, UNEP teamed up with PUMA and stars from the Cameroon football team, including Samuel Eto'o, to launch the Play for Life campaign to promote biodiversity in Africa.
Based on its findings, the report drew key conclusions for South Africa that could help ensure a long-lasting environmental legacy from the World Cup, including:
- The main areas of success were in energy efficiency, renewable energy and public transport, all of which should be carried forward.
- Renewable energy demonstration projects should be implemented as soon as possible, along with full implementation of a national energy policy, to help steer South Africa away from its dependence on coal.
- The improved transport system should be considered the main legacy project of the event, although efforts are needed to expand the network, ensure roadworthy vehicles and improve the image of public transport.
- While efforts were made to minimize waste, not all host cities and stadia were able to implement proper waste segregation programmes and did not have contracts with companies who would recycle rather than landfill. A coherent and comprehensive policy would have prevented problems, and the implementation of such a policy could be another vital legacy project.
- Host cities and stadiums showed positive initiatives in water conservation, showing the value of watering metering and the need for further installation of such systems.
Looking forward from 2010, UNEP has signed an agreement with the Brazilian government to help green the two major sporting events it will host in the next four years, carrying on with work that has seen the organization advising on Olympic Games since 2004.
The report also made a raft of recommendations for improving the greening of future large sporting events, such as the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. Some of the main findings and recommendations are:
- Due to the omission of environmental considerations as one of the seventeen FIFA guarantees for hosting the FIFA World Cup?, not enough effort was placed on environmental management. This issue merits serious consideration by FIFA.
- Environmental guidelines, including those for host cities, should be clear and legally binding. Specific benchmarks must be non-negotiable, measurable and backed by law.
- FIFA should consider offsetting its own carbon footprint and encourage its partners to do the same.
- A written and publicly declared commitment by all key stakeholders towards the greening of the event is essential.
- Funding opportunities for greening initiatives should be explored earlier to avoid situations where planned programmes are not implemented due to lack of funds, and the organizing committee should allocate more resource to greening initiatives.
- Generation of environmental data is important for benchmarking performance. The absence of environmental data in South Africa made it difficult to assess the impact of the greening initiatives.
The report also provides an example of a checklist for environmental performance in mass spectator events, which would serve as a simple tool for integrating sustainability concerns up front.
The report was unveiled as UNEP officials met this week with representatives from the Brazilian government, FIFA and the Olympic committee to consider concrete steps to green the two major sporting events.
About UNEP and Sport
UNEP's role in advising the sporting world has gone from strength to strength since it signed an agreement with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in 1994. As well as South Africa 2010, UNEP has advised on Athens 2004, Torino 2006, Beijing 2008 and Vancouver 2010. The organization has also provided dozens of recommendations to the Organizing Committee of the Sochi 2014 Olympic Games to provide guidance on the integration of environmental considerations in the preparation and staging of the games.
Notes to Editors:
The report can be downloaded here
Shereen Zorba, Head, UNEP News Desk, +254 788 526 000, email@example.com
Amanda Talamonte (UNEP Brazil), +55 61 3038 9237, firstname.lastname@example.org
UNEP Newsdesk (Nairobi), +254 20 762 3088, email@example.com