UNEP and the International Olympic Committee

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) is UNEP’s most influential partner in sport and the environment.

The two organizations have worked together since 1994 to incorporate environmental issues into the world’s biggest sporting event. UNEP is represented on the Sport and Environment Commission, which advises the IOC Executive Board on environmental matters relating to the Olympics.

Bringing environment into the Olympic Movement actually started two years earlier at the first UN Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, when the United Nations adopted the Agenda 21 to encourage the global community to play an active part in the sustainable development of the planet. The Olympic Movement decided to act on the invitation and developed their own Agenda 21.

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UNEP and the 2010 Youth Olympics - 20 - 26 August, 2010

Sev year-old Bhram Guys from Belgium could be a gold-medal winner in men's high jump at the inaugural Youth Olympic Games. He is among 3,600 athletes aged 14-18, from across the world, competing for gold at the event being held in Singapore. However, besides being sports ambassadors, the athletes are also role models and mentors who can be powerful instruments for change in their native countries.

In recognition of their potential to influence an entire generation of young people, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) will be educating talented young athletes at the Games on how they can contribute positively to sustainable development in their communities.

Theodore Oben, UNEP's Chief of Outreach said, "These Games are a fantastic opportunity for the athletes to truly engage on important environmental issues. UNEP will organise fun and interesting activities that will educate the youth on wide ranging issues, and encourage them to become environmental stewards."

Some of the activities that UNEP is coordinating include:

  • Bicycle generator: The athletes will ride a bicycle connected to a dynamo that produces electricity. By riding the bicycle they will gain a sense of how much effort is needed to produce enough electricity to run a CD player and heat a mug of water.

  • Environmental quiz: The young sportsmen and women will be tested on their knowledge of biodiversity, climate change, water and other environmental issues.

  • Carbon footprint calculator: Through interactive computer software the athletes will be able to calculate their personal carbon footprint and learn the exact environmental impact of their activities. They will learn how day-to-day activities such as taking a hot shower, riding a school bus or watching television contribute to greenhouse gas emissions.

  • Tunza: Interested athletes will have an opportunity to learn more about Tunza, UNEP's programme for children, youth and the environment, and register online to become a part of the Tunza network: http://www.unep.org/tunza/

  • Earthlink: In collaboration with Earthlink - an environmental organisation at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore - athletes will be encouraged to put their thumbprints on posters alongside customised environmental messages. This activity will signify their commitment to safeguarding the environment.

Environment and the Olympic Games

Previous Conferences have been held in Torino in 2003, Nairobi, Kenya in 2005 and Beijing, China in October 2007. The partnership has also developed the biennial Global Forum for Sport and Environment, which brings together sport and environment stakeholders to recognize best practice in the field and to encourage sport organizations to do more for the environment. Previous Forums were held in Tokyo, Japan, Lahore, Pakistan and Lausanne, Switzerland.

In 1999, UNEP collaborated with the IOC in developing Agenda 21 for Sport and the Environment which is currently being implemented by members of the Olympic Family and by several other sport organizations.
In 2007, the President of the IOC, Mr. Jacques Rogge and the IOC received the UNEP “Champions of the Earth” award in recognition of President Rogge and the IOC’s efforts to reinforce the environment in the Games.