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Sport and Environment Debate kicks off in Doha

Experts and practitioners in the field of sustainable development in sport are currently meeting in Doha, Qatar, for the 9th IOC World Conference on Sport and Environment. In light of next year’s Rio+20 Earth Summit, the discussions kicked off today concentrating on the role of sport in contributing to a cleaner and more sustainable world.

Sport as a tool for positive change

In his keynote address, IOC President Jacques Rogge said: “We have an obligation to use sport as a tool for positive change at the societal level. The 1992 Earth Summit helped us realise that we could serve humanity by serving the environment. After all, environmental sustainability is linked to our very survival as a species. Our values require us to act on two levels. First, we must do all we can to ensure that our own activities do not contribute to environmental degradation. At the same time, we have to use sport as a tool to encourage environmentally responsible behaviour by others.”

Commitment to the environment stronger than ever

He concluded: “As we near the 20th anniversary of the 1992 Earth Summit, the Olympic Movement’s commitment to the environment is stronger than ever. That commitment was reaffirmed at the most recent Olympic Congress in 2009.” The IOC President added: “We are not here to celebrate past achievements, but to lay the groundwork for future success. The knowledge we have acquired, the partnerships we have formed and the availability of new technology are the building blocks for more progress. It is now up to us to make sure that when the world marks the 20th anniversary of the 2012 Earth Summit, it can truly be said that the Olympic Movement did its part to protect and preserve our environment.”

Read the full speech here.

Achim Steiner, UNEP Executive Director, asked the audience: How can the way sport influences consumer choices and the psychology of consumerism, be enlisted in the race for sustainable lifestyles? How can we influence owners of stadia to mirror the achievements in terms of waste management and renewable energy of those organising the big tournaments and Games? He added: “I think the story of incorporating sustainability into sports has been one of the inspirational evolutions of the past two decades.”

Background information

Under the motto “Playing for a Greener Future”, the Conference is being organised by the IOC in partnership with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the Qatar Olympic Committee. The IOC’s Sport and Environment Commission was created in 1994 to advise the Executive Board on all related matters and has since been chaired by Pál Schmitt, IOC member, Olympic champion and President of Hungary. 

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