“Innovation and inspiration” in sport for a better environment
The 8th World Conference on Sport and the Environment kicks off next week in Vancouver, the host city of the 2010 Olympic Winter Games. Organised jointly by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the Vancouver 2010 Organising Committee (VANOC), in close partnership with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the conference will bring together representatives of the world of sport, industry, sponsors, the United Nations system and NGOs.
With its main theme, "Innovation and Inspiration - Harnessing the Power of Sport for Change”, the 2009 World Conference recognises the power of the sports movement to trigger innovative solutions to the challenges it faces, and to inspire people to pursue a more sustainable world.
Caring for the environment: a collective responsibility
For the IOC President, Jacques Rogge: "Caring for the environment is an important part of the work of the Olympic Movement. If sport events and activities are not planned and managed carefully, they can cause degradation of the natural environment. Equally important is the collective responsibility of those involved in sport to ensure that athletes and sport participants are able to train and compete in clean and healthy conditions. We also recognise there are many opportunities for sport, including sport events like the Olympic Games, to provide sustainable environmental legacies.” Over the past 15 years, the IOC has become a leader in environmental stewardship, going beyond the Olympic Games themselves. Sport and the environment have become a full-time activity area, with initiatives and projects implemented worldwide. International Federations, National Olympic Committees (NOCs), Olympic Games Organising Committees (OCOGs), athletes and TOP Partners have all undertaken practical actions and solutions to protect the environment and promote a legacy of sustainability for future generations.
Olympic Games for sustainability
For the IOC, it is important to ensure that the Games create environmentally sustainable benefits that can be applied to host cities and, ideally, elsewhere in the world. A report by UNEP, entitled "Beijing 2008 Olympic Games – Final Environmental Assessment” shows that the latest edition of the Olympic Games, in Beijing, marked a step forward in terms of eco-friendly mass spectator sporting events. In close partnership with UNEP, Beijing’s Green Olympics Commitment was achieved through its action for environmental technologies, policies and ozone layer protection, and the promotion of environmental education and awareness, among others.
And Vancouver 2010, together with UNEP, is taking the same route, by taking environmental and sustainability considerations to the heart of the Olympic project. VANOC is the first OCOG to have integrated “sustainability” into its vision statement. VANOC has successfully incorporated its sustainability performance objectives into its business systems.
Impressive programme and speakers
How is sport embracing environmental responsibility? How can we achieve environmental progress in an uncertain economy? How can green planning, design and construction principles reduce environmental impact while creating more sustainable communities? How can we capitalise on the relationship between sport, business and sustainability to create enhanced value for all parties? How can sport inspire young people to be responsible citizens in an environmentally interdependent world? How can athletes influence their fans to care for the planet? How can governments work together to develop local and regional climate policy initiatives? These are few of the topics that will be discussed in Vancouver by top-level speakers from the sports family, UN bodies, TOP Partners, civil society and the world of business and politics. One of the speakers, Prince Albert II of Monaco, will present his perspective on the opportunities for sport organizations to provide leadership on climate change and other environment issues. He will also reflect on the recent trip he made, crossing from the west to the east of Antarctica to evaluate the impact of global warming on this continent and to alert international public opinion about the dangers of global warming.
First ever IOC Sport and Environment Award
On 30 March 2009, the Vancouver Conference will see the very first IOC Award for Sport and the Environment being presented. It will be awarded every two years, and will acknowledge and further encourage the implementation of good environmental practices by the Olympic family in the field of sport. One Award will be given to each of the continents: Africa, Americas, Asia, Europe and Oceania. The winners have been chosen from among individuals, groups and organisations nominated by NOCs, Recognised International Federations and Continental Associations.
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