From running and swimming to skiing and biking, sport is an ideal way
to connect with nature. But to continue enjoying our favourite physical
activities, we must urgently protect the environment on which they
depend.   Following on from last week’s theme on gender equality, this
week FASANOC takes a look at the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC)
initiatives on sustainability.

“As challenging and difficult as
the circumstances may appear right now, if we draw the right lessons
from the current situation, we can shape our future to even strengthen
the relevance of our Olympic Movement in the world,” said the IOC
President Thomas Bach in his recent letter addressed to the Olympic
Movement.

“Therefore we should drive further the reforms of
Olympic Agenda 2020, in particular with regard to sustainability, in
order to address this crisis.”

In 1996, a clause on the importance of the environment and sustainable development was included in the Olympic Charter.

Today,
sustainability is a key element of Olympic Agenda 2020 – the IOC’s
reform programme introduced in 2014. It has become our guiding
principle: when making decisions, we do everything we can to maximise
their positive impact and minimise any negative impact in the social,
economic and environmental spheres.

As an organisation IOC has
taken an innovative approach with its new Headquarters ‘Olympic House’
considered one of the most sustainable buildings in the world, having
received three of the most prestigious sustainable building
certifications. The building’s rooftop solar panels produce electricity,
while heating and cooling are generated using water from nearby Lake
Geneva.

Olympic House is also home to eight hydrogen-powered
vehicles and a hydrogen fuelling station – one of the first of its kind
in Switzerland. Provided by Worldwide Olympic Partner Toyota, the fuel
cell electric vehicles (FCEVs) emit only water vapour and air.

Already
carbon neutral thanks to its Official Carbon Partner Dow, the IOC now
aims to become climate positive. This will include planting – in
collaboration with UN Environment Programme –an Olympic Forest, which
will be part of Africa’s Great Green Wall initiative. More than planting
carbon-capturing trees, the Olympic Forest will provide wide-ranging
social benefits to local wildlife and communities.

The IOC
catalyses change by working with a variety of entities from across the
Olympic Movement. These include International Sports Federations,
National Olympic Committees, athletes, and the wider sports community.

The
IOC offers technical support and publish guidelines to support them on
their sustainability journey. The “Sustainability Essentials” series,
for example, provides guidance to the Olympic Movement and the broader
sports community on complex topics such as addressing plastic pollution,
sustainable sourcing and climate action.

Through IOC’s
partnership with International Union for Conservation of Nature, a
series of Sport and Biodiversity guides was developed to show how the
sports community can avoid potential negative impacts on nature while
contributing to and enhancing its conservation.

“Sport needs its
athletes to be fit, but it also needs a fit and healthy planet in order
to survive,” said Marie Sallois, IOC Director for Sustainability. “By
inspiring innovative solutions, raising awareness and uniting people,
sport has the unique power to make the world a better and more
sustainable place.”

In Fiji, the Fiji Association of Sports and
National Olympic Committee (FASANOC), through its Voices of the Athletes
(VOA) Programme, encourages its athletes and sports administrators to
be at the forefront of protecting the environment and raising awareness
of its importance not only during World Environment Day which was on the
5th of June, 2020 but every day.

VOA Coordinator Jeegar Bhavsar
said part of the VOA programme was a “Go Green” component which tackled
issues concerning the environment.

“Our champions, are athletes
who have represented the country, advocating on particular topics
pertaining to the environment which includes marine life and plastic
pollution,” he said.

Jeegar said because of the current
coronavirus pandemic, they are unable to organise the champions and
conduct training and workshops at the moment.

“We are following in
the footsteps of the IOC’s environmental journey which began nearly 30
years ago at the UN Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992,” he said.

“And
just recently our athletes have been taking a keen interest in
minimising ecological footprints, protecting the environment and raising
awareness about its importance to our communities.”

FASANOC Chief
Executive Lorraine Mar said that the FASANOC VOA programme was a means
of placing sport at the service of society and in this instance by
advocating on the importance of a sustainable environment and positively
promoting its care, FASANOC hoped it was making a valuable contribution
towards a cleaner and safer home for athletes and communities.  She
also acknowledged the support of the IOC and the Oceania National
Olympic Committees (ONOC) towards the FASANOC VOA program.

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