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At Global Forum for Sport and Environment, Organizers of Major Sports Events Step Up Greening Efforts

Nairobi, 9 November 2010 – They may play according to different rules on the sports field, but today in Nairobi, organizers of major sporting events, ranging from the FIFA World Cup to the Winter Olympic Games came together for a common goal: how to improve their ‘green’ credentials.

Participants at the Global Forum for Sport and Environment (G-ForSE), held at UNEP headquarters from 8 - 9 November, reviewed the impact of environmental projects from the likes of the 2010 FIFA World Cup and the 2010 Youth Olympic Games in Singapore and discussed the sustainability measures planned for future sports events.

The forum provided a unique platform to share 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.

With a 16-year history in integrating environment and sport, 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 both before the games start and after the final whistle.  

The backdrop for the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia, includes diverse habitats such as the Black Sea, the Caucasus Mountains and Alpine meadows. Organizers of the Games 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.

As part of the ‘Green Goal’ initiative for the 2010 FIFA World Cup, UNEP partnered with organizers to help deliver sustainable public lighting projects across six host cities. A collaboration with sportswear brand PUMA© also resulted in eleven national teams offsetting their World Cup emissions, while the ‘Green Passport’ – distributed to 100,000 football fans - encouraged World Cup visitors to make sustainable travel choices while in South Africa. Green Passports – which are packed full of local, eco-friendly tips and advice for travelers – have also been introduced in Brazil and Ecuador and new campaigns are about to begin in Costa Rica and Israel.

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 final event at G-ForSE saw three African-based conservation projects that work with elephants, gorillas and lions share a prize of US$800,000 as part of the UNEP- Puma® Play for Life project; a global initiative dedicated to raising awareness about conservation among sports fans during the UN’s International Year of Biodiversity in 2010.

The funds were raised primarily through the sales of replica ‘Unity Kits’, specially designed for the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa and worn by international stars such as Samuel Eto’o of Cameroon and Emmanuel Eboué of Ivory Coast. The three projects in Nigeria, Zambia, Ivory Coast and Liberia were the winners of a Play for Life online poll held during the World Cup, where football fans were asked to select their favourite conservation project.  

The winning trio includes UNEP’s Great Apes Survival Project (GRASP), which works to save gorilla, chimpanzee, bonobo and orangutan populations from extinction in Africa and South East Asia. GRASP will use the donation to employ and train forest guards and help develop alternative livelihoods for forest communities in equatorial Africa.

‘The African Lion: King without a Kingdom’ project will channel the prize money into a survey of Zambia’s lion population and the development of a national management plan for the conservation of the species. Finally, the ‘Support for the Elephants’ Project will use the Play for Life award to help create biodiversity corridors supporting endangered elephants in the forests of Ivory Coast and Liberia.  

As well as major events like the FIFA World Cup, G-ForSE also highlighted new environmental measures being taken by smaller sports organizations. The international governing body for power boating (UIM), for example, has unveiled a series of measures to reduce emissions from the sport. A clean fuel task force is currently promoting the use of environmentally-friendly alternatives such as bio-ethanol, which produces fewer carbon dioxide emissions and results in less water pollution during races.

UIM has signed a cooperation agreement with UNEP to further its range of environmental initiatives and to share information and expertise.  

G-ForSE was preceded by the African Seminar on Sports and the Environment held at UNEP headquarters on 6 – 7 November. National Olympic Committees from 40 African countries agreed to adopt a series of resolutions to develop sport as a vehicle to promote peace and the environment on the continent. These include a commitment from National Olympic Committees to place environment and sustainability as priority issues on their national developmental agendas and to invest in education programmes for young people on the environment.

Notes to Editors

About G-ForSE

First held in 2001, the Global Forum for Sport and Environment is a bi-annual forum organised by UNEP in partnership with the Global Sports Alliance. G-ForSE brings together International Sports Federations, National Olympic Committees, organizers of major sporting events, civil society organizations and sport and environment enthusiasts to discuss major challenges and achievements in integrating the environment and sport.  The two-day forum also offers a platform for organizers of future sports events to discuss on ways of mainstreaming environmental considerations in their activities.

About Play for Life

In January 2010, PUMA® and UNEP formed an alliance to launch the 'Play for Life Campaign', a global initiative dedicated to raising awareness about the importance of species and habitat conservation and biodiversity amongst football fans and the general public during this World Cup year, which saw the tournament take place for the first time in Africa. 'Play for Life' focuses on Africa - a continent that is home to some of the richest and most threatened reservoirs of plant and animal life on Earth. PUMA® is a member of the Climate Neutral Network - an outreach initiative led by UNEP to catalyze global transition to low-carbon economies and societies.

For further information, please contact:

Theodore Oben, Chief of UNEP's Outreach Unit, Tel: +254 722 154 804 or Email:

Bryan Coll, UNEP/Nairobi on Tel. +254 20 762 3088, Mobile +254 710 602 538 or Email:
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