Welcome Address by the UNEP Deputy Executive Director at the Sports Summit for the Environment 2005

Sports Summit for the Environment, Aichi, Japan 31 July 2005

Your Imperial Highness Princess Takamado,

Distinguished guests,

Ladies and gentlemen,

I am very pleased to be here for this Sports Summit for the Environment, which is another addition to UNEP¡¯s involvement in EXPO 2005.

This has been a very interesting week for the United Nations Environment Programme. Only on Friday night, we completed the Children¡¯s World Summit for the Environment in Toyohashi.

The Children¡¯s World Summit brought together 600 children aged between 10 and 14 years and their chaperones from 65 countries. They spent four days together, discussing and sharing environmental activities and projects they have started in their schools and communities on energy use, recycling, water conservation, protection of forests and biodiversity --thus inspiring each other to work for a planet where we can live in harmony.

To repeat Expo 2005¡¯s theme, Children are indeed ¡°Nature¡¯s Wisdom¡±. We have to invest in their future by offering and nurturing the necessary knowledge, skills, and values so that they become productive, responsible citizens and active contributors to sustainable development.

That is why UNEP places great importance on awareness raising programmes and initiatives in environmental issues.

Of course, none of these efforts can come to fruition without the support and involvement of various partners at the global, regional and national levels. One such partnership comes through the world of sport, where the United Nations has increasingly built relationships with the different sectors of society ¨Cwith the aim to construct a peaceful and better world and achieve internationally agreed development goals.

That is the reason why we are assembled here today. My presence at this Summit is meant to underline the great importance UNEP attaches to promoting the involvement of civil society organizations in the implementation of its mandate and work programmes.

I take this opportunity to extend my sincere appreciation to Dr. Tatsuo Okada, the Executive Director of the Global Sports Alliance (GSA) and the other national partners involved in organizing this important Sports Summit for the Environment which brought together so many stakeholders for one purpose ¨C to bring about a unified declaration of commitments for the environment.

I am very pleased that today¡¯s session started by a visit to the RECYCLART exhibition displayed outside this hall where we had the opportunity to look at artwork created from old and unused sports equipments.

The exhibition is a clear reminder and challenge for our day-to-day consumption and production patterns which is also high on the agenda of UNEP. We are aware of the fact that one of the major causes of the continued deterioration of the global environment is our unsustainable¡¡patterns of consumption and production

As you are aware, UNEP has developed a very active Sport and Environment Programme to promote the links between sport and the environment. The programme, through its various activities, seeks to strengthen partnerships with international and national sports organisations and federations, to promote the integration of environmental considerations in sports; the development of environmentally friendly sports facilities and the manufacture of environmentally friendly sporting goods; and also using the popularity of sports to promote environmental awareness and respect for the environment among the public, especially young people.

Our partnership with the Global Sports Alliance has continued to be very fruitful and instrumental in establishing and encouraging grassroots environmental initiatives and programmes through sport; including the nature and sport camp for children in one of Africa¡¯s biggest slums located in Nairobi.

Ladies and gentlemen,

We have passed the extraordinary human demographic milestone of 6 billion people on the planet. Almost half of this population is under the age of 24. Too many have inadequate access to sanitation, a healthy environment, education, training, and they have no prospects for decent employment, no say in policies and decisions affecting their livelihoods.

At the same time, the activities of the 6 billion citizens of the world continue to have a significant impact on the planet, including degradation of the environment and depletion of natural resources faster than at any time in history. The path to development and prosperity is dependent on our ability to stop this unprecedented war we have declared on our natural capital crucial for the survival of present and future generations.

We also know that global stability, prosperity and sustainability depend on our efforts and ability to inform, engage and empower young people.

That is why Environmental sustainability is central to achieving the United Nations Millennium Development Goals with the hope to reducing poverty and hunger, improving access to health, sanitation, water, energy, and empowering women and young girls.

2005 is also a year where we are marking the 60th Anniversary of the United Nations and our collective determination for a common standard of achievements in life for all peoples and all nations in larger freedom.

This common standard has not been achieved yet. But, we have the interest, unprecedented knowledge, and resource capacity to deal with the unacceptable reality of translating what we have and what we know into action.

Sport definitely has a role to play in conveying the message of hope, helping people to take care of the environment and to be at peace with it. We have now the opportunity to use it as a tool to promote quality education, health, development and peace among all actors of society worldwide.

That is why I am so pleased to see so many of you from different backgrounds and experiences in this meeting - our sister United Nations agencies, and members of the sporting goods industry, organizers of the Olympic games, athletes and gold medallists, the Olympic movement, the World of Football and non-governmental organizations.

I sincerely hope that as we prepare for, and continue to engage in these milestones, you will join us to be part of the global drive to save the environment for development that will benefit us, our children and grandchildren.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Through your words and actions you will inspire others to commit themselves to conservation, adopt new standards of environmental excellence, and heighten a sense of environmental awareness to protect the only frontier for the survival of humanity ¨Cthe environment.

Towards the end of the afternoon, we will also have the opportunity to develop and share with each other a joint declaration of commitments on the environment. We intend to share the declaration with others so that it can be integrated into and implemented as part of their policies and programmes.

I call upon you the athletes, sport administrators and Olympians to use your success to inspire others to act in a responsible way towards nature. All of you who practice sport are no stranger to nature since you come face to face with it every day as you train and compete in some of the most spectacular and majestic landscapes, rivers and mountains of the world.

We need you to join us, to help us help other social groups, to do their utmost, to prevent, limit or correct environmental damage to our water, forest, air and soil.

We ask you to pass on the declaration of commitments to the sport movement that you belong to.

I particularly call upon the representatives of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), Torino 2006, FIFA World Cup 2006 and Beijing 2008 ¨C to go out with these messages and conquer as many hearts and minds as possible for the environment, so that together we could move towards building a more sustainable society and planet for all.

Thank you.


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