UrbanMeisters exposé on the Rio 2016 games has created much noise in the urban and green community, raising important questions on green sports.
Not only our readers, but even renowned experts from diverse fields of sustainability have shared their opinions supporting our views that Rio 2016 – which was ambitiously pitched as the Green Games for a Blue Planet – did not achieve the sustainability goals it promised.
Today in an exclusive statement to UrbanMeisters, Germany’s eminent green politician Renate Künast, after reading our Rio Report, has shared her views on the Olympic Games held in Rio & where they lacked. The leader also opined on some urgent steps that need to be set in motion not just for the next Olympics, but for other mega-sports events as well, to set a good precedent for sustainability in sports.

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‘Sustainability’ was the pivotal pitch in the Rio Games bid in 2009, so it’s crucial to evaluate whether the Games met their sustainability agenda or not. Most of the key missions were not achieved:
Carbon offsetting targets were off the mark, only 50% of the carbon emissions had been offset halfway through the event. Doubts are being raised if Rio will meet the full target in the coming months considering the economic state. 
A huge part of sustainability in mega sports meets is investment in legacy projects that would boost the host city’s infrastructure & serve the population. The newly constructed $60 million Golf Course is certainly not one such legacy project. Despite strong protests, it was constructed on a bio diversity hotspot around the sandbank habitat of the Marapendi Environmental Protection Area. Was this really needed considering Rio has 2 existing golf courses?
Organisers had promised to clean the highly polluted water body Guanabara Bay which was another big failure. 
Air pollution levels in Rio have always surpassed all WHO limits and it was no different during this period. The organisers failed to bring down pollution levels which was a big concern for the hundreds of athletes and spectators.
But not all of it was a sham. Some key sustainability initiatives by Rio 2016 like Food Waste Management and the Recycle Program were carried out very well.

Renate Künast on Green Sports

For our non-German readers let us first introduce this extraordinary woman and green champion. Renate Künast is an authority on sustainability in Germany. A member of Alliance ’90/The Greens, she is currently the Chair of the Committee on Legal Affairs and Consumer Protection and member of the German Bundestag. Renate Künast is known for being a key driver in consumer protection and sustainable development, supporting organic farming, sustainable fashion and animal welfare among others.  She is known to fiercely champion issues of ecology and sustainability and for taking concrete action. UrbanMeisters founder Mirela Orlovic met her during the Berlin Fashion Week where she held a session on the need for more transparency in the fashion supply chain at a European level.
Following the UrbanMeisters article on Rio 2016 she shares with us the following statement:
« Sports can only be sustainable, if key sporting events follow the principles of sustainability and fair play. This starts at the very beginning of the event which means the criteria that are set to select the location and host country for international events:
The systematic use of renewable energy and regionally produced food belong to these criteria as much as sustainable textiles and sports equipment. Also a smart concept for building constructions that increase the quality of new city areas.
There needs to be an international alignment on what are the minimum standards for mega events like the Olympic games are as far as the diverse criteria are concerned.
I recommend FIFA and IOC should be willing to work actively on a convention. Minimum standards that guarantee the respect of human rights have been needed since a long time.
The Paris agreement on climate change also obliges us to accelerate and move.
Finally, events that attract millions of viewers worldwide definitely have ethical duties.”
« Fair ist der Sport nur, wenn das gesamte Großereignis Nachhaltigkeitszielen und dem Fair Play folgt. Das beginnt zwingend bei den Vergabekriterien:
Die systematische Nutzung erneuerbarer Energien und regional hergestellter Lebensmittel gehören ebenso dazu wie fair produzierte Textilien und Sportkleidung. Aber auch die gute Nutzung der Großbauwerke, die die Qualität neuer Stadtteile heben.
Es muss internationale Vereinbarungen geben über Mindeststandards für diese Großereignisse.
Fifa und IOC ist dringend zu raten, sich bereit zu erklären, an einer Konvention aktiv mit zuarbeiten. Mindeststandards, die für die Einhaltung der Menschenrechte bei der Vergabe sorgen, sind überfällig.
Und die in Paris getroffenen Klimavereinbarungen zwingen uns auch hier einen Vorstoß zu wagen.
Ereignisse, die weltweit Millionen Zuschauer anziehen, haben eben auch ethische Pflichten. »
There is little doubt that sports is very powerful way of positively influencing the society and must play a role in the fight against climate change.
But the onus of brining sustainability to mega sports events should not just be on the host country. There needs to be an international coalition that institutionalises sustainability in future events. Governments, international sporting organisations, sponsors and even athletes themselves need to take a serious lead here.
UrbanMeisters promises to challenge all stakeholders for you and follow this very closely. Please share your opinion in the comments below or write to us contact@urbanmeisters.com
Photo credits: Laurence Chaperon

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