News Comes as UN Environment Programme Prepares to Sign Agreement with Organisers of 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics
Nairobi/Lausanne, 9 November 2005 - Measures to cut greenhouse gas emissions, minimize water use in snow-making and promote eco-friendly hotels are among a raft of initiatives aimed at making next year’s Winter Olympics the greenest ever.
Today the Torino Olympic Organising Committee (TOROC) unveiled its new Sustainability Report at an international sports conference co-hosted by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and the International Olympic Committee (IOC).
The Conference, under the theme of 'Sport, Peace and Environment' brings together around 350 delegates, representing up to 100 different countries. The list of invitees and speakers includes prominent athletes, such as Olympic Medalist Frankie Fredericks, representatives of the IOC, including Vice-President Gunilla Lindberg, and representatives of a number of National Olympic Committees.
Pál Schmitt, Chairman of the IOC’s Sport and Environment Commission, said: “When you host the Olympic Games, among the main priorities must be the environment”.
He said the meeting this week in Nairobi at UNEP’s headquarters was a “good opportunity for the Organising Committees of the Olympic Games to review achievements and explain their plans in the field”.
The Torino Sustainability Report is being hailed as a milestone in the quest to make mass spectator events both entertaining and environmentally sound.
One of the cornerstones is the HEritage Climate TORino (HECTOR) project designed to make the winter games carbon neutral.
The organisers calculate that the 2006 Winter Olympics (10-26 February) will generate the equivalent of just over 100,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide with the main sources of emissions coming from transport and the operation of the Olympic venues.
The sister Paralympic Games will generate the equivalent of 15,000 tonnes of the greenhouse gas making the total emissions from both events just over 120,000 tonnes.
Under HECTOR these emissions will be offset via forestry, energy efficiency and renewable energy schemes both at home and abroad in line with the international climate change treaty, the Kyoto Protocol.
For example the Piedmont Regional Government and the Pinerolo town council are financing renewable energy and sustainable energy projects.
Employees of TOROC will, during the life of the games, generate an estimated 500kg of greenhouse gases which can be offset by buying 10 Euros-worth of carbon credits linked with a reafforestation project in Mexico; renewable energy projects in Indian and Sri Lanka and an energy efficiency scheme in Eritrea.
Ugo Pretato, Head of Environmental Programmes at TOROC told the VI World Conference of Sport and the Environment, taking place under the theme 'Sport for Development and Peace': “Climate change and offsetting carbon dioxide emissions are high priorities for the Torino Winter Games, especially as winter sports and climate change are closely interrelated”.
“This is the first time that an Olympic event will be able to offset all the carbon emissions produced during the event. They are being offset largely thanks to an investment of three million Euros by the Piedmont regional administration into energy efficiency projects, which are expected to generate an estimated 300,000 tonnes of carbon credits,” he added.
The IOC, as part of this week’s events, has published its own Guide on Sport, Environment and Sustainable Development. It was created with the view to present methodological and practical tools to the sports community, based on the major principles of sustainable development.
The Guide, drafted by Professor Joseph Tarradellas of the Swiss Federal Institute of
Technology, Lausanne (EPFL), examines ecosystem services and their interrelation with various sports disciplines. It analyses the impacts that athletes and different sports – from water sports and indoor disciplines such as gymnastics, to large outdoor matches – have on the environment, and offers practical solutions and tips to participants and spectators alike.
Meanwhile UNEP also announced it was signing on 18 November an agreement with the Beijing Organising Committee for the 2008 Summer Games (BOCOG).
The memorandum of understanding is aimed at helping Beijing with its ambitious proposals in areas ranging from air, water and noise pollution up to transport, landscaping and the disposal of solid wastes.
UNEP will also be helping with public awareness campaigns which it is hoped will leave a lasting legacy among citizens in Beijing and China generally on the importance of the environment for long lasting and enduring development.
Klaus Toepfer, UNEP’s Executive Director, said: “UNEP is delighted to be associated with both Torino and Beijing as part of our increasingly constructive relationship with the IOC and sporting bodies generally”.
“Without doubt, sports and sports men and women can be a power for good in the world inspiring by example and bringing together communities, nations and cultures in a common understanding of the principles of peace and fair play,” he said.
“In terms of the environment, the two organising committees are taking forward a green torch first lit in Lillehammer, Norway, in 1994. I am sure the measures they are both undertaking will make the upcoming winter and summer games a crucial guide for environmentally-friendly mass spectator events everywhere over the coming years,” added Mr Toepfer.
Other Keystones of the Torino Strategy
Snow-making machines can consume large quantities of water. The construction of 20 new reservoirs holding 350,000 cubic meters of water had been originally proposed.
However the organisers, in collaboration with the Province of Torino, were able to identify water-saving and other measures to reduce the scale of construction and thus minimize the impact on the landscape.
Now only nine new water storage facilities, holding around 220,000 cubic meters, have been built.
Monitoring at the recent World Cup for cross-country skiing, which took place at Pragelato, and other locations scheduled to host Olympic events has indicated that potentially high levels of sewage-related pollution might arise.
In order not to overload mountain water purification plants, the organisers plan to collect such wastes at sensitive sites and transport them to bigger Metropolitan-based plants during the games.
Extensive monitoring and rehabilitation has also been underway to minimize the impacts of construction at, for example, the ski jumping venues around Pragelato and the bobsleigh track at Cesana Pariol.
Aerial photographs show that no new quarries have been opened and there has been no expansion of existing landfill sites as a result of these works.
In addition, trees, new habitats and natural engineering works are incorporated in and around these construction sites in order to restore the fragile mountain ecosystems and landscapes.
Restoration of ancient and old spring-fed fountains are also to be carried out in local mountain villages.
Other measures – either completed, underway or planned – include a waste materials plan to handle the anticipated increases in rubbish during the games; the development of eco-friendly buildings at, for example the new Olympic Village, and the use of pollution-free materials in their construction and an extensive sustainable transport plan.
In addition TOROC has adopted the International Standards Organization’s 14001 standard alongside the European Commission’s Eco Management and Audit Scheme (EMAS) to ensure the “continuous improvement in the environmental performance” of the organisation.
Meanwhile sponsors of the games are to be subject to a voluntary ‘sustainabilty programme’ in which they agree to meet a set of ethical and environmental standards. TOROC has also instituted a green procurement policy which aims to source environmentally friendly products and services.
It is also promoting the European Eco-label for hotels and helping them to secure this green mark. Olympic accommodation for athletes will also be subject to the Eco-label standards.
Notes to Editors
For more information on the Torino Winter Olympics, please visit http://www.torino2006.org
The World Conference on Sport and the Environment is held every two years for members of the Olympic Movement (National Olympic Committees and International Sports Federations) to review the impact and contribution of sport to the environment. The Conference also reviews the environmental activities of Olympic host cities and candidates.
In 1994 UNEP and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) signed a Cooperative Agreement in which both organisations agreed to promote environmental considerations in sport events of the Olympic Movement.
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.
The Olympic Movement itself has declared the environment to be the third dimension of Olympism, alongside sport and culture. The Centennial Olympic Congress, held in Paris in 1994, devoted part of its debates to sport and the environment. Its final document called, among other measures relating to the environment, for the inclusion in the Olympic Charter of a provision underlining the necessity of preserving the environment. The Olympic Charter was subsequently amended in 1996.
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.
For More Information Please Contact Eric Falt, Director UNEP Division of Communications and Public Information, on Tel: 254 20 623292, Mobile: 254 (0) 733 652656, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org; or Theodore Oben, Head of Unit, Children and Youth, Sport and the Environment, on Tel: 254 20 623262, Mobile: 254 (0) 722 526 181, e-mail email@example.com
For information on UNEP's activities on sport and the environment, please visit http://www.unep.org/sport_env/index.asp
UNEP News Release 2005/54