Olympic Games going green

Olympic Games, Olympic Forest

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has announced that the Olympic Games and Olympic Winter Games will be “climate positive” from 2030 onwards. In addition, the IOC will create an “Olympic Forest”, which will contribute to the UN-backed Great Green Wall project in Africa and help the IOC move towards becoming a climate-positive organisation.

This decision was announced at the IOC’s executive board meeting in Lausanne, Switzerland. It builds on the efforts taken so far by the IOC, working with the Organising Committees for the Olympic Games to ensure that all upcoming Olympic Games are carbon neutral, and have a significantly reduced carbon footprint.

“Climate change is a challenge of unprecedented proportions, and it requires an unprecedented response,” said IOC President Thomas Bach.

“Looking ahead, we want to do more than reducing and compensating our own impact. We want to ensure that, in sport, we are at the forefront of the global efforts to address climate change and leave a tangible, positive legacy for the planet. Creating an Olympic Forest will be one way in which we will work to achieve this goal.” 

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Climate-positive Olympic Games

From 2030 onwards, each Organising Committee for the Olympic Games (OCOG) will be required to go beyond the current obligation of reducing and compensating carbon emissions directly related to their operations.

This means that the OCOGs will be required to:

– minimise and compensate their direct, as well as indirect, carbon emissions; and

– implement lasting zero-carbon solutions for the Olympic Games and beyond.

This way, the Olympic Games will become climate positive, meaning that the carbon savings they create will exceed the potential negative impacts of their operations.

These requirements will be included in the Host Contract – Operational Requirements, which constitutes the contractual commitment between the host city, the National Olympic Committee and the IOC. The IOC will work closely with each OCOG to help with the implementation.

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“Olympic Forest”

As part of its ambition to become climate positive as an organisation, the IOC will contribute, in collaboration with the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), to the Great Green Wall project – Africa’s flagship initiative to combat the effects of desertification.

The contribution will include the planting of an Olympic Forest, from 2021 onwards. It will allow the IOC to support communities in Africa’s Sahel region working towards the sustainable use of forests, rangelands and other natural resources. It will help to mitigate and adapt to climate change.

The IOC’s participation in the initiative will create an opportunity for other organisations and athletes within the Olympic Movement to also contribute to it.

The committee says further details will be defined later this year.

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