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26 Oct 2007
Olympic News

NGOs and sports world on same track for sustainability

Environmental organisations and sports organisations have increasingly matching agendas when it comes to sustainability. It is about making sport more sustainable, and sustainability more relevant. And it is about joining forces through partnerships. This was confirmed by today's presentations by environmental NGOs such as Greenpeace and the WWF, which showcased their initiatives in the context of the Olympic Games at the 7th World Conference on Sport and the Environment, currently taking place in Beijing, China.

Towards "Green Olympics"
All of the NGOs present have been working with the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games Organising Committee (BOCOG), and all of them are aiming towards a "Green Olympics". Lo Sze Ping, Campaign and Communications Director from Greenpeace China, stressed that it was important for Greenpeace to contribute to the Games' success by offering solutions to environmental challenges. In addition to its close cooperation with BOCOG, Greenpeace has teamed up with Coca Cola, Worldwide Partner of the Olympic Movement, for Beijing 2008. Their common project of setting up 6,000 ozone-friendly and climate-friendly coolers and 350 corresponding vending machines in all official venues of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games, during their 10-year life span, will have an effect comparable to taking 218,000 cars off the road during the two weeks of the 2008 Olympic Games. For Lo Sze Ping, the trilateral partnership between a sponsor, an NGO and an Organising Committee is a success story which, for Beijing, will leave a legacy far beyond 2008.

Involving the population is key
Involving the population in their environmental campaigns and projects in the run-up to the 2008 Olympic Games was unanimously described as key by the NGOs: be it encouraging Beijing's citizens to have a car-free day, teaching them how to reduce dust pollution and to avoid wasting water, implementing awareness-raising campaigns in schools or holding lectures for students. WWF China representative, Dermot O'Gorman, highlighted the WWF's "20 ways to 20%" nationwide awareness campaign, which aims to complement China’s goal to reduce energy consumption by 20% by 2020. Twenty tips on how to be environmentally friendly on a day-to-day basis are being widely advertised on public spaces all over China. The campaign will run until the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games, but the awareness switch will have benefits long after the Closing Ceremony.

Looking beyond 2008
Both, Greenpeace and the WWF have already worked with Olympic Games Organising Committees in the past, and both are already looking beyond 2008. The WWF supports the organisers of the London 2012 Olympic Games in shaping their sustainability policies, such as for reducing the environmental impact of the venue constructions and finding clever transport solutions. It is about respecting the environment in Games planning and operations – from the beginning of a city's desire to stage the Olympic Games through to the long-term effects of those Games.
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