Major Initiative to Green the FIFA World Cup Kicks Off

THREE days before the kick-off of one of the greatest global sport events on the planet – the FIFA 2010 World Cup in South Africa – a major initiative to green the World Cup and help reduce carbon emissions was launched in Johannesburg today.

The initiative is a result of a partnership between the Global Environment Facility (GEF), the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the South African Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA).

The initiative includes three major greening projects: renewable energy interventions in six World Cup host cities, an awareness-raising drive on green tourism both funded by GEF, and a UNEP programme to offset the carbon emissions of eleven World Cup teams.

Supported by US$1 million in GEF funding, one major project is the greening of public street lights, traffic lights and billboards around the stadiums of six host cities. Twelve billboards – two in each city – will switch to solar power, along with 60 traffic lights and 78 streetlights across the six host cities.

The Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) in South Africa, in liaison with the Departments of Energy, Department of Tourism, Central Energy Fund, Eskom and the Local Organizing Committee, has identified several carbon offset projects in order to assist towards offsetting travelers' emissions. Included amongst the projects are Solar Cookers, LED energy efficient lighting , and wind energy.

Buyelwa Sonjica, South African Minister of Water and Environmental Affairs said,

"Whilst we welcome the world, South Africa's hosting of the World Cup must leave a legacy for the people of South Africa. As the environment sector, we want part of the legacy to be a green legacy. In this regard, we have initiated several programmes as part of this green legacy which should benefit South Africans from all walks of life, now, and continue beyond the moment when visitors leave our shores."

Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary-General and UNEP Executive Director, said: "We are proud to work with GEF and the government of South Africa, the host of this year's World Cup, to assist in greening one of the greatest sporting events on Earth. The aim is to demonstrate that all sectors of society including major sporting events can catalyze a transition to a low carbon, resource efficient Green Economy. And in doing so make the players, officials and millions of fans around the world inspired to be part of a winning sustainability team."

"Events like the World Cup present a unique opportunity to showcase environmentally sound technologies and practices," said Monique Barbut, CEO and Chairperson of the GEF.

The greening project, entitled "Reducing the Carbon Footprint of Major Sporting Events, FIFA 2010 and the Green Goal", aims to leave a lasting legacy that will be continued by the city municipalities post the tournament to save energy consumption by adopting renewable energy and energy efficiency practices as illustrated by solar retro-fits. This project forms part of the South African government's National Greening Framework.

Picture by Audrey & Patrick Scales

Tuesday 8th June 2010

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