UNEP has been working with the Beijing Olympic Committee for the last three years in order to help make the Summer Games environmentally-friendly.
The Chinese government has spent US$17 billion on a large-scale green drive ahead of the Games, including a series of long-term environmental improvements for the city. As part of this, the city has introduced tougher standards for vehicle emissions and phased out ozone-depleting substances. The authorities have also expanded Beijing’s public transport network with three new subway lines and the introduction of some 3,800 compressed natural gas buses – one of the largest fleets of in any city in the world.
The Olympic venues themselves also have many green features: 20 per cent of their energy comes from clean wind sources, solar power features prominently in the Olympic Village, and the Bird’s Nest stadium has an advanced rainwater recycling system.
During his visit to the city, Mr. Steiner will take the opportunity to see first-hand some of the environmental improvements implemented around Beijing for the Games. He will visit several of the green facilities built for the Olympics including Beijing’s newly-inaugurated subway lines and the Solar Wall, 2,000 square metres of solar panels.
On 8 August, the Executive Director – who is also a UN Under-Secretary-General – will take part in the Olympic Torch Relay before attending the Opening Ceremony. While in the city, Mr. Steiner will meet with China’s Environment Minister Mr. Zhou Shengxian and Mr. Wan Gang, the Minister for Science and Technology.
Mr. Steiner will also take part in a special event on Volunteering for the Olympics on 7 August alongside film star Zhou Xun, who is the Chinese Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations Development Programme, and Khalid Malik, the United Nations Resident Coordinator in China.
In the second half of 2008, UNEP will produce a Post-Games Environmental Report in order to assess the successes and challenges of the environmental measures taken by Beijing for the 2008 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
Journalists interested in covering Executive Director Achim Steiner’s press conferences and visits to green venues in Beijing should contact:
Satinder Bindra, UNEP Director of Communications in Beijing on: +86-13501216280
Theodore Oben, UNEP Chief of Sports & the Environment in Beijing on: +86-13501210290
Or Anne-France White, UNEP Associate Information Officer, on: +254 (0)728 600 494