World Conference on Sport and the Environment: 3 days to go
With three days left until the 6th World Conference on Sport and the Environment opens, www.olympic.org
spoke to the Chairman of the IOC Sport and Environment Commission, Pál Schmitt.
What are you expecting from the Nairobi Conference?
This is a regular but very important event on the calendar of world sport and environment. It is a good opportunity to bring together the three pillars of the Olympic Movement - the International Olympic Committee, the International Federations and the National Olympic Committees and to exchange views on what has been done so far on sport and the environment, review achievements and plan for the future. It is a good opportunity for the organising committees of the Olympic Games to explain their plans in this field. When you host the Olympic Games, among the main priorities must be the protection of the environment.
The world is now suffering too frequently from natural disasters such as the tsunami disaster last year, hurricane Katrina and floods in Europe have shown. Can sport contribute to sensitise governments and people on attitudes to be changed?
Sport is not an activity which damages nature too much, but our message can reach millions young people and the general public. It therefore becomes easier to draw their attention to the beauty of nature and we can educate them and raise their awareness to the danger of environmental degradation. Greening the Games is a real message.
Is the organisation of a mega event like the Olympic Games compatible with a serious policy on sustainable development?
An event like the Olympic Games is an excellent opportunity for setting examples and for education. The Olympic Movement’s Agenda 21 is an essential and important document in this regard. Sustainability was a new word for me, when I became chairman of the commission. I also had to learn the message. It is a moral and ethical obligation for mankind to take out from nature today only what we need for this generation so that the next generation may also enjoy the resources.
Q. What is your favourite example of a successful application of the IOC policy on sustainable development?
All the processes of organising mega events involve planning, construction, management and maintainance of sports facilities. Green control has been implemented in all phases; some sports events draw hundreds of thousands of visitors and they can leave tons of garbage behind. Educating visitors brings results. And we have seen this being implemented time and again at Olympic Games. The Organising Committees have left behind environmental legacies that cities and countries would not have undertaken, or would have taken long to implement were it not for the Games.
What are the next steps the IOC has to undertake in order to succeed in this field of activity?
This conference is not only about protecting nature and sustainability, but also to show how essential the environment is to maintain peace. It is a new element in our conferences. It has repeatedly been said that if ever there will be a third world war, hopefully never, it would be for the possession of clean water or sources of energy or other natural sources. Without peace, there is no reason to protect the nature.