UNEP and Beijing Sign Pact for Green 2008 Summer Olympics

BEIJING, China, November 18, 2005 (ENS) - In exactly 993 days, the next Olympic Summer Games will open in Beijing. The 2008 Games will promote and respect a healthier environment under an agreement signed today by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the Beijing Organizing Committee for the Olympic Games.

The agreement rests on the Organizing Committee's plans for curbing air, water and noise pollution, providing environmentally friendly transport and landscaping, and the responsible disposal of solid waste.

UNEP will be actively involved in the public awareness campaigns that link mass participation events such as the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games with maintenance of a healthy environment.

Klaus Toepfer, UNEP's executive director, said today at the signing ceremony, "Environment is one of the three pillars of sustainable development- development that respects people and the planet. Through sports and through the Olympic movement we can further this goal by holding games that minimize their environmental footprint and maximize the efficient use of resources."

The environment has been declared the third pillar of Olympism by the International Olympic Committee, alongside sport and culture. The green plans for Beijing are part of a growing commitment by Olympic organizers to put sport at the forefront of environmental planning and awareness.

In October, the Beijing Organizing Committee received an ISO14001 certificate, signifying that its environmental management system conforms to the ISO14001 standards in the areas of office management, event route planning, venue planning, partner selection, hotel selection, communication, and environmental management.

Venue construction for the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games will incorporate energy-efficient buildings, environmental protection, sustainable use of water resources, and environmentally friendly construction materials, Wu Jingjun, chief engineer of the Beijing 2008 Project Construction Headquarters Office has said.


At a ceremony September 24, Liu Jingmin, vice mayor of Beijing and executive vice president of the Beijing Organizing Committee, introduces the environmental symbol of the 2008 Summer Games. (Photo courtesy Beijing 2008)
Liu Jingmin, vice mayor of Beijing and executive vice president of the Beijing Organizing Committee for the Games says the example set by a Green Olympics will encourage more citizens "to choose green lives, and to participate in green activities."

Toepfer is pleased with China's dedication to environmentally friendly Olympic gams. "Beijing has committed itself to very high and ambitious environmental goals, ones which if achieved will percolate out into Chinese society and out into the world as a whole," he said today. "UNEP is delighted to be a partner in this endeavor and we stand ready to assist and offer advice to the organizers in their attempt to realize the greenest summer games ever."

Eric Falt serves as director of the UNEP Division of Communications and Public Information which will be spearheading the UN side of the Beijing agreement. He said the commitments made by the Beijing Organizing Committee for the 2008 summer games have "resonance" both within and beyond the sporting world.

"Sport has the power to bridge the divide between communities and countries and in doing so help in our common quest for a more stable and peaceful world. Part of that stability rests on a healthy and durable environment," said Falt.

"Through well targeted and well designed public awareness initiatives we hope to take this message to the people of China and to the peoples of the world," he said.

The signing of the Beijing agreement comes one week after the 6th World Conference on Sport and the Environment in Nairobi which was co-hosted by UNEP and the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

Some 300 delegates attended the conference, under the theme of Sport, Peace and Environment. They represented the 100 countries that have adopted a key resolution on promoting sports and the environment into the 21st century.

At the conference, organizers of the upcoming 2006 Winter Olympic Games in Torino, who are working closely with UNEP, unveiled their third Sustainability Report.

Initiatives include the HEritage Climate TORino (HECTOR) project designed to make the Torino Winter Games carbon neutral as well as eco-labeling for hotels and measures to reduce the amounts of water needed to generate artificial snow.

UNEP is represented on the IOC Sport and Environment Commission, which meets regularly to review environmental issues as they relate to the Olympic Games and to advise the IOC Executive Board on environmental issues.