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Comments by UNEP Director of Communications and Public Information at the Opening of the Sports Summit for the Environment 2005

Sports Summit for the Environment, Aichi, Japan, 30 July 2005

Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,

I am very honoured to be here with you for this Sports Summit for the Environment, co-organized by the Expo 2005 Organizing Committee, the Chunichi Shimbun, the Global Sports Alliance and UNEP.

At the outset, I would like to pay a special tribute here to our friend Tatsuo Okada, who is an inspiration for all of us, and also to his wife Naoko –-who I know is an inspiration for him.

For the past century, the continued degradation of the environment and depletion of our natural resources have become major obstacles for development, let alone sustainable development. The fight to reverse this degradation must become a higher priority as we struggle to achieve the Millennium Development Goals.

We must use whatever opportunity we have to unify people and organizations and bring together new constituencies to prevent the further depletion of our natural resources.

Athletes, sport enthusiasts, competition organisers, and sporting goods manufacturers form a constituency of their own with a strong connection to the environment. All of them know that you can only practice sport in a healthy environment.

Think for instance of the runner trying to train in an ever more polluted city. Think also how sad it is that it has become more dangerous today to ask a child to go outside and practice sport than to stay inside.

Together we can change this situation and form a Winning Team (Cho Ri No Team).

Sport, which represent excellence, a spirit of harmony and fair play, is today a powerful agent for the implementation of sustainable development. I feel that we have made significant progress in establishing the connection between sport and environment, thanks in large part to the enthusiastic involvement of our growing coalition of partners.

Within this coalition, UNEP and the International Olympic Committee have made a lot of headway in organizing and staging environmentally-friendly events, as well as adopting Green Games ethics. I am very happy to see with us today Mr. Chiharu Igaya, Vice-President of the IOC and Mr. Masato Mizuno, member of the Sport and the Environment Commission of the IOC.

Here in Japan, the beautiful city of Nagano hosted the XVIIth Olympic Winter Games in 1998 - the last Winter Olympics of the 20th century. Nagano imparted a spirit of respect for the beauty and bounty of nature, and in turn the Games imparted the joy of living on our planet.

I am very happy also to see with us Paolo Revellino, from the Organizing Committee in Torino, Italy, which will soon host the 2006 Winter Games. Torino promises to set new standards in the field of environmental protection and UNEP is working very closely with them.

Certainly, all the cities that competed for the 2012 Games had featured the environment as a central part of their bid, and had shown strong interest in collaborating with UNEP.

It is notable that the bids of all five cities competed for the 2012 games detailed their efforts to ensure that the Games would not only do no harm but would positively enhance the local environment.

London had embraced the concept of the ‘One Planet Olympics’ with the goal of achieving, in their own words, “the first sustainable Games” that will respect ecological limits and cultural diversity, and create “a legacy for sport, the environment and the local and global community”.

The organizing committee proposed a Sustainability Management System, where “sustainability criteria” represent the “core values” of the Committee, underpinning policies, implementation, monitoring and reporting, and encompassing areas such as waste management, sustainable procurement, environment awareness-raising and active stakeholder engagement.

There is no doubt in my mind that this has played a significant role in convincing the members of the International Olympic Committee to award the 2012 Games to the City of London.

One of the biggest lessons that future bidders have learned from this is that the integration of environmental considerations will play an ever greater role in the Olympics.

And it is not just the Olympics that has embraced environmentalism.

Germany, which is hosting the 2006 FIFA World Cup, is working to make that competition as eco-friendly as possible, strictly limiting its production of emissions and waste and its use of chemicals, energy and other resources.

It will monitor the chemicals used to treat pitches, limit packaging on products sold during matches, and insist on maximum recycling of rubbish.

I am also pleased to inform you that UNEP in partnership with the IOC will organize the 6th World Conference on Sport and Environment from 9 to 11 November 2005 at the headquarters of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) in Nairobi, Kenya. We look forward to see many of you at this important conference.

UNEP and the FIFA 2006 World Cup Organizing Committee have agreed to sign a Memorandum of Understanding to promote environmental awareness and monitor environmental programmes. Businesses will be required to conform to FIFA environmental guidelines, water supplies will be conserved, much of the energy will come from renewable resources, and park-and-ride schemes will limit traffic and pollution.

Once again, I sincerely thank our sport and environment partners – including the organizing committee and our supporters - for making this event possible.

Thank you.




Further Resources

UNEP Sports Summit on the Environment page


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