Speech by Eric Falt at opening of G-ForSE

The Global Forum for Sport and Environment - Olympic Museum, Lausanne, Switzerland, 1 December 2006

On behalf of the United Nations Environment Programme, I would like to welcome you all to this Global Forum for Sport and Environment.

Before we start I would like to express our appreciation to Tatsuo Okada, Executive Director of the Global Sports Alliance, for his organization’s longstanding partnership with UNEP, and his personal commitment to linking the world of sport with caring for the environment.

I would also like to thank our sponsors, Volvo, Pentland and Power Bar, for helping us to organise this event.

I would also like to acknowledge our other major partner in our sport and environment activities, the International Olympic Committee, represented here this morning by Tommy Sithole, Director of International Cooperation and Development.

The Olympic Movement and UNEP have worked together since 1994. Together we have come a long way. I would like to thank them for hosting today’s event.

Last November UNEP and the IOC co-hosted a very successful World Conference on Sport and Environment at UNEP’s headquarters in Nairobi.

I am confident that this meeting will be just as successful in moving forward the sport and environment agenda.

Ladies and gentlemen,

The theme for discussion is ‘Mainstreaming the Environment in Major Sports Events’.

We are fortunate to have a wide variety of experienced men and women with us to share experiences and come up with new ideas of how we can not only make major sporting events environmentally friendly, but use them to spread the message of sustainability to the massive audience that the world of sport commands.

In preparation for this conference, we collected a number of best practices, some of which have featured in the series of posters that you will see as you participate in this forum.

In compiling the information, I was impressed by the range of existing initiatives, and the potential there is for replication, both in the sporting world and beyond.

Major events, such as the Olympic Games and the FIFA World Cup, make an significant mark on a city. They present a wonderful opportunity for showcasing the best in architecture, urban planning and event organization.

By making sure that environmental care is evident in everything that is done, that the planning and the assessment of results is transparent, and that the goals and achievements are proudly advertised, event organizers can help to firmly embed the principles of sustainability in the minds of the public, of event planners, of business people and of local governments far beyond the immediate vicinity of the events themselves.

This, I believe, is something that has been achieved by the organizers of the Torino Olympic Winter Games and the 2006 FIFA world Cup, both of whom will be launching their reports at a press conference here today.

One of the central themes of both events was climate change. I think this is an issue whose time has finally come.

As the United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Anna said two weeks ago at the UN Climate Change meeting in Nairobi, climate sceptics are ‘out of arguments, out of step, and out of time.’

Now is the time for everyone, from governments to individuals, to face up to their responsibility to bring us to a low-carbon world so that greenhouse gas concentrations stop accumulating in the atmosphere.

Examples such as Torino’s HECTOR programme, FIFA’s Green Goal initiative, Vancouver’s plans for a hydrogen highway for the 2010 Winter Olympics and the sustainable transport initiative for the 2010 FIFA World Cup are all significant steps in the right direction which we believe can be part of a snowball effect that helps propel us to a more energy efficient and less polluting future.

These are some of the examples that will be discussed during the course of the day. There are many more, and I look forward to the discussions, and the conclusions of this meeting.

I mentioned how pleased I was with the attendance here today. What I did not mention is that we were over-subscribed. Many more would have liked to attend.

I think this is an indicator that this movement—of environmental sustainability through sport—is gaining momentum all the time.

At the end of this meeting we will be signing a Memorandum of Understanding with the Fédération Internationale de Motocyclisme. This is one more organisation that is taking concrete steps to follow an environmental code of conduct and promote environmental principles through their actions and to their members.

They are not alone. In fact they are part of a growing movement that is well represented here.

I thank you all for your participation. I hope you have a very enjoyable and productive meeting, and I look forward to the results of your discussions.

Thank you


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