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WWF has been constructively engaged with major worldwide sporting events, and in particular, the Olympic movement for nearly two decades, following the International Olympic Committee’s adoption of ‘environment’ as one of the three ‘pillars of Olympism’ in 1994. Following significant concerns around the ecological impact, poor sustainability integration and inadequate legacy planning of the Athens Games in 2004, WWF has welcomed, and been actively involved with, the progress of successive Olympic Games from Torino 2006, though Beijing 200 and Vancouver 2010 to London 2012. These sporting mega events have been increasingly mitigating the impact of the event on local environments and natural resources whilst seeking to maximize sustainability benefits through a legacy of sustainable buildings, infrastructure and the active engagement of businesses and spectators.
WWF-UK helped write London 2012’s ‘One Planet Olympic’ sustainability framework and remained a prominent stakeholder advisor throughout the 8 year process of planning and implementing the ‘greenest Games ever’. WWF’s support ranged from detailed planning advice to materials selection and procurement processes to the use of carbon management strategies and the sustainable operations of Olympic sponsors such as Coca Cola. Since the London Games, WWF has been working worldwide with sports industry partners to help facilitate the transfer of learning and legacy benefits to future sports events.
WWF-Russia has been involved in detail with the Sochi Games since the bid stage, working with local partners including Greenpeace and intra-governmental agencies such as UNEP and UNESCO, with the intention of protecting globally important sites for conservation in the region and ensuring that the Olympic movement’s positive momentum on sustainability is continued. Despite some significant successes, like relocating some facilities from most ecologically sensitive areas and adopting leopard reintroduction programme as one of compensation measures, the construction companies and organizing committee’ engagement with NGOs and other agencies became increasingly insupportable.
NGOs participated in monthly meetings aimed at improving green standards of the Winter Olympic Games in Sochi. However, although participants of these meetings agreed to many ways in which things could be done better, nothing was being implemented by the organizers, so the whole process was deemed useless by independent NGOs. In 2010, WWF and Greenpeace withdrew from the environmental consultation of Sochi-2014.
Currently, from the nature conservation standpoint, WWF considers the following decisions as the major mistakes of Sochi-2014: