Did you know that the International Olympic Committee decided twenty years ago that environmental stewardship needed to be a core value for the Olympic Games? That the Olympic Charter was amended in 1996 to add environment alongside sport and culture as its third pillar of Olympism? That Sustainable considerations are embedded in bidding, planning, constructing and holding an Olympic event?
The IOC developed Agenda 21 which presents fundamental concepts and actions to integrate sustainable initiatives into their operations. The IOC fact sheet on the environment and sustainable development outlines initiatives taken at each of the Games since Salt Lake City 2002.
The host city candidate application includes an extensive environmental sustainability section. Bid cities must analyze their environmental health, detail a plan to promote green and sustainable Games, and provide the city’s long term development plans.
For London this included creating Europe’s largest urban park in a depressed section of London, Lee Valley, home to the Olympic Stadium, the most sustainable Olympic stadium in history and the Velodrome the most sustainable structure of the venues. Existing facilities such as Wimbledon and Lord’s Cricket grounds along with temporary structures were utilized to avoid building facilities that would not contribute to the local economy after the games. ‘Transform’ dedicated resources to redevelop fifty poor quality sites into thriving local resources using local resident volunteers to propose, develop and maintain viability of each project after the games are gone. London will measure its carbon footprint over the entire project term aiming for a zero waste-to-landfill target. Towards a one Planet Olympics describes the goals and objectives of London’s Olympic sustainability plan.
London’s 2012 organizing Committee was supported by UNEP along with local and national authorities to align long term development strategy with an environmental legacy of the games. This has helped London not only to restore land, clean up waterways, develop additional flora and fauna habitats and prevent loss of biodiversity and ecosystems but to shore up deteriorating infrastructure and create healthier environments.
As you are watching the 2012 summer Olympics admire the athletes but take a moment to look beyond and enjoy the efforts made to give back to the future of the world.