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After a thrilling presentation by ocean advocate and pioneer swimmer Lewis Pugh, a colourful closing ceremony with Russian dancing performances, and the presentation of the final declaration, the 10th edition of the IOC World Conference on Sport and the Environment came to a close in Sochi today.
More than 500 delegates from over 76 countries unanimously adopted the “Sochi Declaration”, which contains a set of sustainable-development recommendations addressed to the various stakeholders in this field. Calls for action include the mitigation against food wastage at sports events and support for UNEP’s “Think Eat Save: Reduce Your Foodprint” campaign; increased action in promotion of the post-2015 development agenda at national and regional levels with the support of National Olympic Committees (NOCs) and continental associations; the promotion of the International Day of Sport for Development and Peace (a recent UN initiative with a strong emphasis on the involvement of young people) to be celebrated on 6 April each year; and the widening of the scope, in terms of sustainability, of the IOC’s Commission for Sport and Environment, with a stronger focus on social and economic factors.
Read the full text of the declaration here.
Nick Nuttall, UNEP’s Director of Communications and Public Information, said: “The ambition of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and its new President, Thomas Bach, to address the challenges but also seize the opportunities for sports to contribute to a sustainable century took several important steps forward here in Sochi this week.” He added: “Participants, for example, called on the IOC, Olympic organisers and athletes to address a phenomenon that is perhaps the most emblematic symbol of humanity’s current unsustainable path—food wastage.”
On the last day of the Conference, participants were treated to a presentation by pioneer swimmer Lewis Pugh, the first person to complete a long-distance swim in every ocean on the planet. In 2007, he undertook the first swim across the North Pole to highlight the melting of the Arctic sea ice – a distance of 1km in -1.7 degree water that took him 18.5 minutes. He said that, when he initially told his mother of his plans, she replied with almost a minute of silence. “Lewis,” she finally said, “that is not a normal thing to do.” In 2010, Pugh swam across a glacial lake near Mount Everest to draw attention to the melting glaciers in the Himalayas.
Watch here a clip of Lewis Pugh, who is also UNEP Patron of the Oceans.
The World Conference on Sport and the Environment is one of the IOC’s key advocacy initiatives in the field of the environment, and gathers together representatives from the Olympic family, governments, the UN system, academic institutions and NGOs. This year’s event was organised in partnership with United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the Russian government and the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, the Russian Olympic Committee, and the Organising Committee of the Sochi 2014 Olympic Games.
The 10th edition took place a year after the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD), better known as Rio+20, which was a key moment in the global sustainability agenda. Rio+20 saw a renewal of the sporting community’s long-term and political commitment to sustainable development.