- 06 Mar 2006
- Olympic News
TORINO 2006: UNEP Praises Green Games
The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) has praised the Torino 2006 Games for its work on the environment. UNEP, which signed a protocol with the Organising Committee for the XX Olympic Winter Games – Torino 2006 (TOROC) in June 2003, has said that Torino 2006 may have shown the way towards even more environmentally friendly Olympic Winter Games. According to Eric Falt, Director of UNEP’s Division of Communications and Public Information, which runs the organisation’s “sport and environment” programme, “We have been most impressed with the environmental measures and commitments made by TOROC. From its climate change initiatives and dedication, to the use of local stone and wood up to its adoption of “green” environment management systems such as EMAS and ISO 14001.”
Torino 2006 And The Environment
Commenting on TOROC’s initiatives, UNEP’s Executive Director, Klaus Toepfer, said, “By locating in the city centre several key events, such as figure skating or ice hockey, along with accommodation for athletes and media, the organisers have dramatically increased the likelihood that these buildings and structures will be sustainably used in the future for sports other leisure activities and housing.” He continued, “During the two weeks of competition this is likely to have increased commuting and transportation between the urban areas and the events staged in more rural, mountainous locations. But over the longer term the environmental impacts are likely to be positive.” TOROC’s environmental initiatives over the past seven years have ranged from HECTOR, its carbon neutral programme for the Olympic Winter Games, to the blending of the ski jump venue in Pragelato into the landscape, through sensitive design that works with the natural gradients and contours of the location.
The IOC And UNEP
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) and UNEP have been working together for over 10 years. In 1994, the IOC and UNEP signed a cooperative agreement, in which both organisations agreed to promote environmental considerations at the sport events of the Olympic Movement. UNEP also has a representative on the IOC’s Sport and Environment Commission. The Commission meets on a regular basis to review environmental issues related to the Olympic Games and to advise the IOC Executive Board on environmental issues.
The Environment And The Olympic Games
Since the early 1990s, the Olympic Movement has progressively taken the environment and sustainability into account throughout the lifecycle of an Olympic Games project. The Olympic Games are above all about sport and the athletes, but they can lead to several important environmental outcomes if they are planned, managed and conducted in a way which minimises the adverse environmental impacts and effects. The opportunity of the Games can also be used to provide sustainable environmental legacies, such as rehabilitated and revitalised sites, increased environmental awareness, and improved environmental policies and practices. Positive outcomes and legacies such as these are being achieved throughout the processes leading up to the Games, and through IOC requirements and policies, and actions within the IOC and the Candidate Cities and Organising Committees. This means that the “Green Games” concept is increasingly becoming a reality.
In the field of advocacy too, the IOC has launched a series of programmes and activities that contribute to raising awareness about the importance of sustainable development in sport. Such activities are implemented in cooperation with several institutions, such as Olympic Solidarity, the International Sports Federations (IFs), National Olympic Committees (NOCs), Organising Committees for the Olympic Games (OCOGs), and the United Nations Environment Programme. These institutions all contribute to the promotion of sustainable development in sport within the Olympic Movement at national, regional and international levels, either by contributing to IOC initiatives or in their own right. An example of this is the Memorandum of Understanding signed by the Organising Committee for the Games of the XXIX Olympiad – Beijing 2008 (BOCOG) and UNEP, which will see UNEP providing expert advice and support in the development of relevant environmental reports. There are also plans for far reaching educational and public awareness campaigns to further increase the impact of staging environmentally sustainable Olympic Games.