Environment Takes Centre Stage in Countdown to the 2008 Summer Olympics
Beijing/Nairobi, 18 November 2005 - An agreement aimed a making the summer Olympics of 2008 environmentally-friendly was signed today signed by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the Beijing Organizing Committee for the Olympic Games (BOCOG).
The agreement rests on the ambitious programmes of Beijing in areas ranging from air, water and noise pollution up to transport, landscaping and the disposal of solid waste.
A key part of the plan and one in which UNEP will be actively involved is in the area of public awareness campaigns.
In doing so the UN environment body hopes to leave a lasting legacy in China and beyond on the links between mass participation events and a healthy environment.
The campaigns will also link the importance of the environment generally in delivering sustainable development that benefits current and future generations.
In exactly 993 days, the next Olympic Summer Games will open in Beijing, China. The Games are set to follow in the footsteps of earlier Olympics, including Torino 2006, in promoting and respecting a healthier environment.
Klaus Toepfer, UNEP’s Executive Director, said today at the signing ceremony: "Environment is one of the three pillars of sustainable development- development that respects people and the planet. Through sports and through the Olympic movement we can further this goal by holding games that minimize their environmental footprint and maximize the efficient use of resources”.
“Beijing has committed itself to very high and ambitious environmental goals, ones which if achieved will percolate out into Chinese society and out into the world as a whole. UNEP is delighted to be a partner in this endeavor and we stand ready to assist and offer advice to the organizers in their attempt to realize the greenest summer games ever,” he added.
The signing of the agreement comes only a week after the 6th World Conference on Sport and the Environment, which was co-hosted by UNEP and the International Olympic Committee (IOC).
The Conference, under the theme of 'Sport, Peace and Environment' brought together around 300 delegates, representing up to 100 different countries who adopted a key resolution on promoting sports and the environment into the 21st century.
Eric Falt, Director of the UNEP Division of Communications and Public Information which will be spearheading the UN side of the Beijing agreement, said: “ Sport has the power to bridge the divide between communities and countries and in doing so help in our common quest for a more stable and peaceful world”.
“Part of that stability rests on a healthy and durable environment. So the commitments made by the organizing committee for the 2008 summer games have resonance both within and beyond the sporting world. Through well targeted and well designed public awareness initiatives we hope to take this message to the people of China and to the peoples of the world,” he added.
The green plans for Beijing are part of a growing commitment by Olympic organizers to put sport at the forefront of environmental planning and awareness.
During last week’s conference in Nairobi organizers of the upcoming Winter Olympic Games in Torino, who are working closely with UNEP, unveiled their third Sustainability Report.
Initiatives include the HEritage Climate TORino (HECTOR) project designed to make the winter games carbon neutral alongside eco-labeling for hotels and measures to reduce the amounts of water needed to generate artificial snow.
Notes for editors:
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.
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 organizations 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 Organizing Committee and other partners.
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.