Restoration of Rivers and Enlargement of National Park among UNEP-Proposed Measures for Green 2014 Winter Olympics do, jul 12, 2012

UNEP and International Experts Present Recommendations to Natural Resources Minister Sergey Donskoy

The ski centre under construction for the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics

Nairobi, 12 July 2012 - The UN Environment Programme (UNEP) has delivered dozens of recommendations, ranging from restoring fisheries in the Mzymta River to extending areas of a key national park, to the Government of the Russian Federation as part of ongoing efforts to strengthen the environmental legacy of the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics.

The studies and action plans, which Russia's Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Kozak requested from UNEP in February, were presented to Minister of Natural Resources and Environment Sergey Donskoy and are now being reviewed by the government.

A team of two dozen UNEP-led international and local experts - with input from the WWF, the Russian Geographical Society and other non-governmental organizations -  proposed close to 90 projects designed to minimize the impact of infrastructure developments around the Sochi National Park area, where the games will take place.

The recommendations, which include an information and monitoring system for the environment, are designed to leave a lasting, positive legacy for the lives and livelihoods of local people and wildlife.

"The hosts of winter and summer Olympic Games face many challenges in delivering a world-class event for athletes and spectators, including with regard to environmental issues," said Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary General and UNEP Executive Director. "Yet the games are also an opportunity to leave a lasting legacy that can provide social and economic benefits in areas from ecotourism to improved management of ecosystems such as forests and river systems."

"UNEP and its team of international experts have met the government's request for the best possible advice on how to restore, improve and enhance the environment of Sochi National Park and its environs during the last two years of construction and planning," added Mr. Steiner.

"We look forward to seeing how these recommendations will be taken forward, wish the government and the organizers an exciting and successful games and stand ready to assess with them the achievements and the lessons learnt in the aftermath of the games so that knowledge and experience can be passed on to future host countries and cities," he said.

Among the numerous proposals are projects to rehabilitate and maintain water quality in the Mzymta river basin alongside tackling potential sources of pollution linked with the development of the games.

Other proposed measures include:

  • The establishment of a nature park for bird life;
  • The establishment of a 'buffer zone' around the Caucasus State Natural Biosphere Strict Reserve;
  • The establishment of a Western Caucasus Ecological Corridor to assist in the movements of wildlife;
  • A comprehensive conservation plan and programme for the reintroduction of the Persian leopard;
  • The establishment of ponds and wetlands for rare reptiles and amphibians;
  • Measures to engage young people in environmental activities linked with the games;
  • The expansion of a nursery for conserving and reintroducing rare and endangered species of trees and shrubs.

Rinat Gizatulin, Deputy Minister of Natural Resources and Environment, said the ministry would review the recommendations and emphasized that the proposed plans would be integrated into mitigation measures and restoration projects already being undertaken by the government.

The new proposals are in addition to UNEP's work with the Organizing Committee of the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics and Paralympics, which have already seen a raft of recommendations regarding the sustainable running of the event handed over.

In March 2011, UNEP submitted environmental action plans that cover key areas including Zero Waste and Climate Neutrality. These plans are mooted to form a portfolio of seventeen environmental projects to be carried out under the Sochi 2014 Ecological Programme.

The Zero Waste programme aims to promote a sound plan for waste management that focuses on sustainable consumption, recycling and safe disposal. Key deliverables include the provision of new waste collection and processing facilities at identified venues and the procurement of environmentally friendly products, manufactured from low-impact, recycled, and recyclable materials.

The Zero Emissions action plan outlines a detailed strategy for carbon management around the games to measure, reduce and offset carbon emissions.  Key deliverables include an auditing framework for Greenhouse Gas emissions and the development of measurement methodologies appropriate to Russia and Sochi, a GHG reduction plan, and the development of a voluntary carbon offset programmes for Russia.

UNEP was in 2008 invited by the Russian government and the Organizing Committee of the Sochi 2014 Olympic Games to provide guidance on the integration of environmental considerations in the preparation and staging of the games.

UNEP has a longstanding collaboration with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in the greening of the Games that spans Athens 2004, Torino 2006, Beijing 2008 and Vancouver 2010.

For More Information Please Contact Nick Nuttall, UNEP Spokesperson, on Tel: +254 733 632755 or E-mail: nick.nuttall@unep.org

 
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