Remarks by Nick Nuttall, Director of the Division of Communications and Public Information at the IOC World Conference on Sport and the Environment Fri, Nov 1, 2013

In the intervening years major sporting events including the Summer, Winter and Paraolympics have in many cases become showcases for innovation and test beds for fast tracking public transport improvements, renewable energies up to water recycling and the use of sustainable materials such as woods and metals.

Nick Nuttall, Director of the Division of Communications and Public Information and Spokesperson UN Environment Programme (UNEP) adressing delegates

31 October 2013, Sochi Russian Federation

Thomas Bach, President of the IOC,

Sergey Donskoy , Minister of Natural Resources and Ecology, Russian Federation,

Distinguished speakers, colleagues, ladies and gentlemen,

In a world of seven billion people, rising to over nine billion by 2050 the way society manages its environment and the services that nature provides will have profound impacts on countries and communities everywhere.

Today human beings are more connected than they have ever been-directly through mobile phones, the Internet, TV, radio and newspapers.

But directly too through the way we produce and consume natural resources, our collective pollution footprints and vast, long distance supply chains that are a feature of a globalized world.

Whether it be climate change or the loss of arable land or rising water scarcity, the future sustainability of our world is no longer guaranteed.

Decoupling economic growth from natural resource use; putting in place smarter and more intelligent management of natural services from forests to freshwaters and dramatically cutting pollution and waste via, for example, pathways towards an inclusive Green Economy have become imperatives.

The Rio Earth Summit of 1992, which spawned UNEP’s cooperation with the International Olympic Committee (IOC), kick-started many new avenues towards sustainable development.

In the intervening years major sporting events including the Summer, Winter and Paraolympics have in many cases become showcases for innovation and test beds for fast tracking public transport improvements, renewable energies up to water recycling and the use of sustainable materials such as woods and metals.

Events in cities like Sydney, Torino, Beijing and last year London are among the many shining examples where major sporting events have gone that extra green mile.

They have also assisted in driving public awareness and the public’s imagination on environmental challenges and opportunities and that awareness has, through the power of the mass media, rippled into wider society.

A good start-but it is perhaps time to consider doing more and consider where societies are heading in respect to sustainability.

Rio+20, held 20 years after the 1992 Earth Summit, has within the seeds of its outcome-The Future We Want-new pathways and initiatives that may finally fulfill the ambition of weaving the environment and the economy together with important and positive social impacts.

An integral outcome of the conference was securing renewed political commitment to sustainable development and realizing that concrete measures for grounding this commitment are necessary.  Strong monitoring and accountability are crucial for the implementation of the post-2015 development agenda taking stock of important lessons learnt from the monitoring process for the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) on how to maintain focus on internationally agreed development goals and targets, while keeping the world informed of achievements, problem areas and emerging issues.

Governments, especially parliaments, will play a central role. The monitoring and accountability framework can be strengthened through the direct engagement of citizens and responsible businesses making use of new technologies to expand coverage, to disaggregate data and to reduce costs as Rio+20 lays down the gauntlet to a wider engagement with society including the private sector.Better baseline data and statistics are needed, especially because the post-2015 development agenda will involve measuring a broader range of indicators, requiring new and disaggregated data to capture gaps within and between population groups.

Capacity will need to be strengthened especially in developing countries to undertake monitoring reinforced by a new global partnership and a data revolution for monitoring progress and strengthening accountability. Many developing countries will require technical and financial support to build solid statistical systems and capacity so as to take advantage of these new opportunities.

There has been significant attention, both in theory and in practice, to the concept of ‘beyond GDP / GDP+’ that is very closely tied to discussions on sustainable development and how to measure a country’s well-being. Parallel work with regard to achieving consensus on metrics and indicators that can be used for monitoring will serve to strengthen the integration of the environmental, social and economic dimensions of sustainable development into the Post 2015 Development Agenda. Such measures of monitoring could not only support parts of the ‘universal’ goals but also lead to a much better understanding of progress at the national level.

Already Brazil-host of the FIFA 2014 World Cup and the Rio 2016 Summer and Paraolympics-is taking on board some of Rio+20 outcomes with the support of many including UNEP.

By and large the Olympics and indeed other sporting events have been islands of green innovation.

The Summit gave the green light to a major new initiative to green supply chains through the notion of sustainable procurement.

Studies indicate that if government, including local government spending within an economy is somewhere over 23 per cent of GDP-and that spending is ‘greened’-it has the potential to tip the entire economy into the sustainability space.

UNEP is working with the Government of Brazil and the FIFA World Cup host cities-and will be working with Rio 2016- to accelerate this in areas from food to materials.

Corporate sustainability reporting

Since 1992, some 25 per cent of the world’s large companies have adopted some level of public reporting of their environmental, social and governance footprints-but 75 per cent have not.

There is evidence that reporting actually focused a company on greater environmental ambition.

Meanwhile pension funds-who spread and manage risk over the long term-want that data to guide their investment decisions.

Brazil is linking its two major sporting events with this challenge in order to accelerate the take up of corporate sustainability reporting among large but also medium-sized enterprises.

And Brazil’s ambition is shared by Denmark, South Africa and France with the support of UNEP in terms of global action.

Finally, sustainable consumption and production and an inclusive Green Economy-two sides of the same resource efficiency coin.

UNEP and the Food and Agricultural Organization of the UN are spearheading a global campaign called Thin Eat Save-Reduce Your Foodprint!

It  about dealing with the absurdity that at least one third-at least-is being lost and wasted globally.

Apart from the economic and ethical questions raised, this food wastage has huge environmental consequences.

If food wastage was a country, for example, is would be the third largest emitter of greenhouse gases.

28 per cent of arable land is being used for food that never makes it from farm to fork-and think of all the inputs wasted, from fertilizers to water and the world’s precious soils.

Large sporting events are also large dining, eating and snacking events-I am sure that addressing food within the Olympics and other key mass spectator celebrations could go a long way to accelerating the aims and aspirations of this campaign.

For the annual World Environment Day celebrations, held on June 5, UNEP worked with several sporting bodies on this Think Eat Save agenda including FIM-the international motorcycle federation.

We are all connected to food in some shape or form-and we can all do something about it.

Let me end here by thanking the Government of the Russian Federation for working with UNEP and the IOC to put on this week’s conference in the beautiful city of Sochi.

We wish the organizers of the 2014 Winter Olympics every success as they implement their environmental agenda with the view towards a green games and a green legacy.


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