Organizers of major international sporting events today concluded a forum sponsored by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) in Kenya to discuss how best to limit the negative impact of such events on the environment.
Participants in the two-day gathering in Nairobi, the Kenyan capital and UNEP headquarters, included representatives from FIFA, the world football governing body, which organizes the World Cup, and organizers of the Winter Olympic Games.
The Global Forum for Sport and Environment (G-ForSE) reviewed the impact of environmental projects from events such at the 2010 FIFA World Cup and the 2010 Youth Olympic Games in Singapore, and discussed the sustainability measures planned for future sporting meets.
Participants shared expertise and experiences that can help step up “greening” efforts in the lead-up to events such as the 2012 Olympic Games in London, the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia, the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil and the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.
“UNEP’s work in Sport and the Environment has two main objectives: to use the popularity of sports to promote environmental awareness and to encourage green activities through sport that bring real benefits to communities and to the environment,” the agency said in a news release.
UNEP advises host countries and organizing committees on how to integrate environmental considerations into the staging of major sports events, and also carries out environmental impact assessments before and after the games.
The 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, for example, will be held against the backdrop of diverse habitats such as the Black Sea, the Caucasus Mountains and Alpine meadows.
Organizers are already working on ways to minimize and to offset the event’s impact on the local environment by focusing on four key areas – protection of nature, climate neutrality, waste management and environmental communications.
Following the recommendations of an expert assessment released by UNEP in 2008, the Sochi organizing committee relocated the proposed sliding centre (for bobsleigh, luge and skeleton events) and mountain village away from its initial location to a less environmentally-sensitive site.