UNEP and the Vancouver Organizing Committee for the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games Sign Memorandum of Understanding
Vancouver/Nairobi, 29 October 2007 – The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the Vancouver Organizing Committee for the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games (VANOC) today signed an agreement at the United Nations headquarters in New York City to enhance environmental performance at the 2010 Winter Games and increase public awareness of the importance of environmental protection and sustainable development.
With this agreement, the Vancouver 2010 Organizing Committee is making a commitment to build on the success of past Olympic Games Organizing Committees which signed Memoranda of Understanding with UNEP. The Torino 2006 Olympic Winter Games, in particular, are credited with having raised the environmental bar for Olympic events.
The 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver have committed to leave a lasting legacy in the host communities of Vancouver and Whistler, the province of British Columbia, Canada, and beyond, and to provide innovative ways to organize major events that minimize their environmental footprints before, during and after the Games.
Under the new agreement, UNEP and VANOC will work together to develop and deliver environmental education and raise public awareness of environmental opportunities and issues in conjunction with the 2010 Winter Games.
Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary General and UNEP Executive Director, said: "Through the Olympic Movement, we can further sustainable development by holding green Games and boosting global interest in the environment. UNEP welcomes VANOC's goal of carbon neutral Games and is proud to be a partner is this important endeavour."
UNEP may advise VANOC on environmental issues, including greenhouse gas emissions, ozone-friendly chemicals, waste management and 'green procurement.' UNEP and VANOC will also work together to inspire action on national and international environmental goals.
In recent years, there has been an increasing awareness that environmental and sustainability considerations should be at the heart of the Olympic project. All Olympic Games are now expected to leave a sustainable legacy and promote environmental awareness.
"We are delighted that UNEP and VANOC have been able to continue the great spirit of collaboration that has existed for several Games now by signing this MOU," said Pal Schmitt, Chairman of the International Olympic Committee's Sport and Environment Commission. "The Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games are making great strides in the field of sustainable development and this new relationship with the UNEP will undoubtedly provide further opportunities to inspire sustainable actions around the world."
"The Olympic and Paralympic Games represent a unique opportunity to produce lasting benefits, both locally and globally," said VANOC CEO John Furlong. "Today, as we come together in a spirit of cooperation with UNEP, we are well on our way to fulfilling the goal of meeting our commitment of hosting sustainable Games, of raising awareness about the environment and inspiring greater commitment to environmental protection around the world."
VANOC will support and participate in certain UNEP events and initiatives such as World Environment Day and a global forum on sport and the environment. Under this MoU, VANOC has the opportunity to participate in world youth conferences organized by UNEP. In 2007, VANOC sent two Indigenous (Inuit) youth from northern Canada to the 2007 TUNZA International Youth Conference in Germany – a youth forum held every two years that brings together young environmentalists from all over the world to share experiences on the environment. There, the two youth discussed environmental issues such as the need to address climate change in their community.
UNEP, which has worked with the International Olympic Committee since 1994, is also partnering with the Beijing Organizing Committee for the Games of the XXIX Olympiad in the run-up to the 2008 Summer Games. As part of its Sport and Environment programme, UNEP also signed an agreement on 22 October with the Commonwealth Games Delhi 2010. The goal of this alliance is to create environmentally-friendly 2008 Commonwealth Youth Games in Pune and 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi.
VANOC has been tracking and reporting on its environmental performance with the publication of its first-ever Sustainability Report in June 2007 (available online at: vancouver2010.com). The next version of the report, which is based on the Global Reporting Initiative guidelines, will be available in the first quarter of 2008.
The agreement between UNEP and VANOC comes just days after the 7th World Conference on Sport and Environment, which took place in Beijing on 25-27 October. IOC President Jacques Rogge confirmed at the recent conference that VANOC will host the next World Conference on Sport and the Environment in the spring of 2009.
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