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Sustainable Bidding

Over the last 30 years, sustainability has become an increasingly important consideration when staging the Olympic Games. With that in mind, Olympic host cities must consider the environmental impact of the Games during their planning.

The same is true of cities that are bidding to stage the Games and many have been able to use unsuccessful Olympic bids to drive a series of sustainability initiatives and create environmental legacies that have outlasted their initial bids and created long-term benefits for their local regions.

Sion, for example, submitted bids for both the 2002 and 2006 Olympic Winter Games, which were awarded to Salt Lake City and Torino respectively. The small city, which is the capital of the Swiss canton of Valais, decided to make the environment a central focus of its bids for both the 2002 and 2006 Winter Games.

“In our 2002 bid, we had included the four mandatory pages concerning the environment in our candidature document but we also provided a much longer document that we called the ‘Sion 2002 Green Book’ about our efforts to implement environment initiatives in the canton,” explains Professor Jean-Loup Chappelet, the Technical Director of Sion’s 2002 and 2006 bids. “The IOC had appreciated this ‘Green Book’, and so when we decided to bid again for 2006, we decided to go full steam [ahead] with sustainability.”

In order to develop its sustainability activities, the Sion 2006 Candidature Committee created a “Department for Sustainable Development”, which oversaw the adoption of the canton’s own Agenda 21 – following similar environmental action plans adopted by the United Nations and the IOC.

The department also put forward plans for the creation of the Fondation pour le Développement Durable des regions de Montagne (FDDM) – a non-profit organisation in charge of coordinating the inception and execution of sustainable development projects across the region.

Since its formation on the back of Sion’s Olympic bid in 1999, some of the projects that have been successfully implemented by the FDDM include the organisation of ‘slowUp Valais’ – an annual mass participation sport event for families – and the development of Ecostation, a toolkit for local resorts that aim to attain standards for sustainable tourism. As recognition for its work, the FDDM has also received ISO 9000 and 14001 certifications for its activities and is also a member of the Network of European Regions committed to the issue of Sustainable Tourism (NECSTouR).