Speech by Achim Steiner at Closing of G-ForSE
The Global Forum for Sport and Environment - Olympic Museum, Lausanne, Switzerland, 1 December 2006
UNEP’s sport and environment strategy recognizes two core facts:
It is therefore extremely gratifying to see such a broad-based an gathering here for the Global Forum for Sport and Environment.
I would like to thank our partner, the Global Sports Alliance, our sponsors, Volvo, Pentland and Power Bar, and our hosts here at the Olympic Museum for organising this event.
I would also like to acknowledge my colleagues who have preceded me here as speakers today:
• Pal Schmitt, Chairman of the IOC’s Sport and Environment Commission (who played such a key role in the success of the VI World Conference on Sport and Environment held last November at UNEP’s headquarters in Nairobi).
• Ibrahim Thiaw, Acting Director General of IUCN. (ED to make own personal observation).
• Adolf Ogi, UN Secretary-General’s Special Advisor on Sport for Development and Peace. (The theme of last year’s World Conference on Sport and Environment was Sport, Peace and Environment, making explicit the links between environmental sustainability and human security and the important role that sport can play in achieving both. )
Earlier today, Mr. Ogi and I were at the press conference to launch the Torino Olympic Winter Games final sustainability report and the FIFA Green Goal legacy report.
These are just two examples from 2006 of how organisers of sports events can incorporate environmental sustainability into their planning and practice, doing so in a transparent manner, and leave a legacy not only for the cities in which the events are held, but for society as a whole, by setting an example and creating awareness of what can be achieved with a little commitment and forethought.
Ladies and gentlemen,
The agenda and participants list for this meeting demonstrate both the sophistication of the discussion, and your commitment to incorporating the principles of environmental care into the world of sport.
You are not here to be converted. You came here to exchange experiences about what you are doing to protect the environment through your own activities, and to swap ideas about how to build on this excellent foundation.
I am sorry I was not able to be here for much of the proceedings, but I am glad I have been able to attend this afternoon’s plenary and hear the synthesis and outcomes of the discussions.
I would like to wrap up with a few words of my own about what I see as the major environmental challenges that we face and how I think you and event organisers and manufacturers of sporting goods can make a contribution.
The first and main challenge I would like to highlight is climate change.
Failure to slow down global warming, and to adapt to its already apparent effects, will make dealing with all the other environment and development challenges that much harder.
The Torino experience and the Green Goal legacy launched today both show that there are many ways that we can make a difference.
Offsetting emissions by investing in reforestation and afforestation schemes makes an important contribution. On that note I encourage everyone here to get involved in UNEP’s Billion Tree Campaign.
Even more important is investing in energy efficiency and the use of clean and renewable fuels.
This covers everything from using solar panels in stadium design to sustainable transport initiatives such as we saw this year in Germany, and that are planned for the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics and the 2010 FIFA World Cup.
It is important that we use the opportunities provided by the infrastructure improvements that major sports events bring to embed environmental consciousness further into the minds of local governments and city planners wherever we can.
Climate change is not the only environmental challenge. How we use water is another major issue.
Declining availability and quality of freshwater resources are relevant to all regions and all sectors. It is important that we use our water resources more efficiently.
Again, we have the examples to build on: rainwater harvesting; re-use of grey water; waterless urinals in stadiums; using raw water to irrigate golf courses, as well as planting less thirsty varieties of grasses and trees.
Let’s make sure we take all the examples that are available, make use of them and publicize them so others can follow.
How we deal with waste generation and disposal is another important issue. Yesterday I was at the closing of the Basel Convention on Hazardous Wastes, which highlighted the hazardous wastes generated by the electronic and computer industries.
All the waste products created in our daily lives need to be minimized and, where possible, recycled or reused. Again, there are good examples to build on that have been brought to the table at this Global Forum for Sport and Environment.
We all have a part to play in addressing these environmental issues, and I am glad to see that sporting goods manufacturers and organisers of major sporting events are increasingly playing a role and looking at their own responsibility for environmental care.
At this conference we have discussed these issues and showcased examples that can provide inspiration for others.
The challenge for all of us is twofold:
First we have to look inwards and ask: Are we keeping our promises? Are we really practicing the principles of sustainability? Could we be doing better?
Second, we have to look outwards. How can we use our considerable influence—in UNEP’s case as a global organisation that works with a wide variety of stakeholders, including government; in your case as event organisers and manufacturers with a massive global reach—to spread the message of environmental responsibility and care throughout the world.
I am a parent of two young children. I suspect most of you are parents, even grandparents. We all want the best world for our children and their children. That means a healthy environment in which they can live, learn and play sport.