Nairobi/Aichi, 29 July 2005 - Representatives of UN agencies, international sports associations and federations joined the Japan Association for the 2005 World Exposition, the Chunichi Shimbun, Global Sports Alliance (GSA) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) at the Sport Summit for the Environment taking place in Nagoya and EXPO 2005 in Aichi from 30 and 31 July to promote environmental awareness and action among sports enthusiasts worldwide.
The Summit aimed to recognise and encourage grassroots environmental initiatives through sport, as well as promoting new programmes. It also seought to encourage a declaration of commitments on the environment by sport organisations, sport stars and the public.
UNEP Executive Director Klaus Toepfer said: "Environmental considerations are a major component of the development of facilities and the organisation of major sports events. Everybody who is involved in sports – in a club, as an individual or as a spectator – should have an interest in the environment. We need a healthy environment to enjoy sports and there is much we can do as sports enthusiasts to ensure that we limit the environmental impact of our activities."
The environment has been declared the third pillar of Olympism by the International Olympic Committee (IOC), alongside sport and culture. Recognising the importance of sport in building a peaceful and better world and in achieving the Millennium Development Goals, the United Nations has declared 2005 as the International Year for Sport and Physical Education to promote education, health, development and peace.
At the same time, this is the first year of the UN General Assembly-endorsed “Decade of Education for Sustainable Development”. It is also the year of the first international exposition of the 21st century: EXPO 2005 in Aichi, Japan, with the theme of 'Nature’s Wisdom'.
Summit participants included members of the Japanese Imperial Family, representatives of the 2006 Torino Winter Olympic Games, the IOC and FIFA.
A declaration of commitments for the environment was issued at the end of the Summit and included contributions from individuals and sports organisations worldwide. The Joint Declaration indicated to the world the commitment of the sports community to tackling environmental problems and developing a sustainable society.
Echoing the traditional torch relay of the Olympic flame that precedes each Olympiad, messages from the Sports Summit was passed on to the 2006 FIFA World Cup in Germany, the 2006 Winter Olympics in Torino and the 2008 Beijing Olympics in a special ceremony.
"The environment affects sport, and sport affects the environment. The ability to participate in sport and leisure is seriously compromised by environmental degradation and by poverty, conditions which often go hand in hand. The sports community can ensure that sport, and the products used in sport, create the minimum harm and maximum benefit to society and the environment,” said Eric Falt, UNEP’s Director of Communications and Public Information.
The Sports Summit 2005 is supported by the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), UNICEF Japan, Japan Sports Association (JASA), Japan Olympic Committee (JOC), Japan Olympians Association, Japan Volleyball Association, Ski Association of Japan, Japan Sailing Federation, Japan Golf Federation, and Japan Tennis Federation.
Note to editors:
UNEP has developed an active Sport and Environment Programme to promote the links between sport and the environment. In February 2003 the UNEP Governing Council adopted a long-term strategy on sport and the environment, which seeks to further reinforce UNEP’s work in this field. The strategy also seeks to strengthen partnerships with sports organisations and federations, and specifically requests UNEP to initiate cooperation with Olympic host cities.
UNEP has been working closely with the International Olympic Committee and other sports bodies since 1994 as part of its Sport and Environment Programme. In 2004, it implemented a number of environmental awareness activities at the Athens Olympics Games, in collaboration with the Athens 2004 Olympic Organising Committee and other partners.
UNEP also has a Memorandum of Understanding with the Turin 2006 Winter Olympics Organising Committee, and is preparing to sign a wide-ranging Memorandum of Understanding with the Beijing 2008 Olympic Organising Committee. UNEP is also collaborating with the organisers of the 2006 World Cup in the 'green goal' initiative.
UNEP is represented on the IOC Sport and Environment Commission, which meets regularly to review environmental issues as they relate to the Olympic Games and to advise the IOC Executive Board on environmental issues.
UNEP also supports the organisation of the biennial IOC World Conference on Sport and Environment and regional seminars on sport and environment. The next IOC World Conference on Sport and Environment will take place in November 2005 in Nairobi, Kenya, at UNEP’s global headquarters.
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