Sochi (Russia), 9 June 2009 - In an effort to green the Sochi Olympics in 2014, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Russian Olympic organizers to help and advise them on making the Games environmentally friendly.
At the signing ceremony on 5 June, Theodore Oben, Chief of the UNEP's Outreach Section, said: "I am sure the memorandum signed today will not only be a written commitment, but will guarantee that during the preparation and staging of Sochi 2014 great strides are made in environmental protection in Sochi and the Krasnodar Region," said
Dmitry Chernyshenko, President and CEO of Sochi 2014, added: "Signing this important Memorandum will help ensure Sochi 2014 is able to introduce Green Standards to every level of the Games' preparation and will ensure that the Organizing Committee continues to work with international environment experts to support this."
Sochi, which sits between the balmy shores of the Black Sea and the snow-capped Caucasus Mountains in Russia's Krasnodar Region, is renowned for its pristine setting.
In an effort to preserve this natural beauty, the city in 2008 followed UNEP's recommendation to move the bobsleigh and luge tracks away from the Caucasus nature reserve, which is one of the only mountain areas in Europe that remains virtually untouched by human activity. In changing the venue, organizers stressed that they are committed to creating an "environmental legacy for the future of the region".
"We developed the Sochi 2014 environmental strategy and this will ensure that the ecological situation in the Krasnodar Region is enhanced for generations to come," stressed Chernyshenko at the signing of the agreement.
As part of the Memorandum, UNEP will advise the organizers on greening the 2014 Olympics. Environmental education schemes will also be organized, and a series of conferences will allow international experts to monitor and analyze key environmental indicators before and after the Games.
The Sochi Olympic organizers are also planning to invest US$1.75 billion in energy conservation and renewable energy and offset the remaining greenhouse gas emissions from the use of electricity, air travel and ground transportation. Other environmental initiatives include the development of "green belts" in the city and reforestation of the Sochi National Park.
The organizers also commemorated the signing of the agreement by planting trees in several locations in Russia as part of UNEP's Billion Trees Campaign. According to UNEP, planting trees is a key way to combat climate change as trees consume vast amounts of carbon dioxide. To date, more than four billion trees have been planted as part of the campaign, and UNEP has set a new target of 7 billion trees by the end of 2009 - one for every person on the planet.
Earlier this year, Sochi also joined UNEP's Climate Neutral Network (CN Net), an initiative to promote global action and involvement towards low-carbon economies and societies. Launched a year ago, CN Net includes countries, cities, multinationals, NGOs and other UN agencies.
UNEP has become increasingly active as an environmental advisor for the greening of mass events. In partnership with the International Olympic Committee, UNEP has been helping to green the Olympic Games over the last few years - most recently the Beijing 2008 Games, for which UNEP undertook environmental assessments before and after the Games. UNEP has also signed an MoU with the organizers of Vancouver 2010 in a bid to help green the next Winter Games.
On 5 June - World Environment Day - UNEP also joined organizers of the Shanghai Expo to launch the Green Guidelines, an outline for applying green ideas in preparing for Shanghai's World Expo next year.
Notes to editors:
The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) was established during the 27th session of UN General Assembly. The organization aims to provide leadership and encourage partnership in caring for the environment by inspiring, informing, and enabling nations and peoples to improve their quality of life without compromising that of future generations.
The Billion Tree Campaign was initiated by UNEP not only in response to the threat of climate change but also to the major challenges of sustainable development - from the issue of water supply to reducing bio-diversity. According to the UNEP, planting trees is one of the most effective tools for combating climate change as trees consume carbon dioxide.
For more information on the Billion Tree Campaign please visit:
For more information please contact:
Nick Nuttall, UNEP Spokesperson and Head of Media, on Tel: +254 20 7623084, Mobile: +254 733 632755, or when traveling: +41 795965737, or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Anne-France White, UNEP Associate Information Officer, on Tel: +254 (0)20 762 3088; Mobile in Kenya: +254 (0)728 600 494, or e-mail: email@example.com