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Is London 2012 the Greenest Games yet? Report reveals London 2012 sustainability performance

19 July 2012

WWF-UK and BioRegional today launched a new report Towards a One Planet Olympics Revisited that concludes that London 2012 has succeeded in being the most sustainable Games yet, but that failures have occurred in some significant areas.

For example, the use of carbon footprint as a strategic tool was good; however, the failure to build a significant and visible renewable energy source was bad. The report’s authors conclude that:

“London 2012 is the Olympics that sets a new sustainability standard for future Games; we just wish London 2012 had been able to push sustainability a little faster, a bit higher and with an even stronger focus on changes beyond the Olympic Park.”

In 2005, BioRegional and WWF-UK, worked with London 2012, to write the original sustainability strategy, Towards a One Planet Olympics. Today’s report provides a snapshot of progress on the eve of the Games, examining the 76 promises made then and rating them according to whether they have been met.

BioRegional and WWF-UK have also set up an online social network at www.towardsaoneplanetolympics.com where readers can post their own views about London 2012’s sustainability performance. Sue Riddlestone, BioRegional’s Executive Director who was involved writing in the original strategy, said:

“London 2012 has set the sustainability bar high for future Summer Olympics. It has built venues and staged an event which set new standards for resource efficiency which cut the carbon and saved money. The 2012 team pulled out all the stops to achieve real innovation on park recycling, sustainable food and yes even transport. We are proud to have been part of setting the vision for London 2012 and helping deliver it.

“That said, there were some promises made in 2005 which London 2012 didn't keep, even though we know they tried. We were especially disappointed about the failure to meet the renewable energy targets. So the journey to deliver a sustainable Olympics will continue. It is important that all the great things which London 2012 have achieved and the lessons learned are passed on and that a commitment to sustainability is a key criterion by which the 2020 Summer Olympics bids are judged.”

David Nussbaum, WWF-UK’s Chief Executive, commented: “The Olympic Games is a truly global event that presents a powerful opportunity to drive positive outcomes for people and the planet. WWF, BioRegional and London 2012 helped chart a new course towards sustainability for ‘mega sporting events’ with the vision ‘Towards a One Planet Olympics’. We are pleased to report today that London has set the bar higher and has moved faster than previous comparable events. But as batons are passed in the next few weeks to those responsible for delivering a legacy from London 2012, and for putting on future Games, we expect that a stronger commitment to sustainability will continue.”

BioRegional and WWF-UK will publish a fuller review of London 2012’s sustainability performance once the Games has finished, and will include examples, opinions and quotes from the social network site to paint a comprehensive picture of what worked and what didn’t.

Read the report Towards a One Planet Olympics Revisited.

Notes to editors

  • BioRegional is an award-winning sustainability charity that works with partners around the world to demonstrate that a sustainable future is attractive and affordable. Our work is based on practical experience gained through establishing social enterprises and delivering real-life projects with international partners.

    Since working with London 2012 and WWF on Towards a One Planet Olympics we have continued to provide advice and practical assistance to implement the strategy. We have worked on projects including advising on footprinting and recycling demolition materials, providing in-depth sustainability advice during construction of the Main Press Centre and the delivering the Olympic Village One Planet Centre, where we are working with athletes to create a sustainability and sport legacy.
  • WWF is at the heart of global efforts to address the world’s most important environmental challenges. We work with communities, businesses and governments in over 100 countries to help people and nature thrive. Together, we’re safeguarding the natural world, tackling climate change and enabling people to use only their fair share of natural resources.

    WWF’s work on a One Planet Olympics for London 2012 aims to create a new sustainable blueprint for future global sports events and leave a sustainable legacy for London. We’re working to influence planning, construction and business decisions around the Games and engage the large audiences of Olympic spectators and viewers to take action for the planet.
  • Throughout this report when we refer to London 2012 we mean all those agencies responsible for delivering the Games, including bid, build, operational and legacy stages. These include the Olympic delivery organisations (see page 13 for details), the International Olympic Committee (IOC), the UK Government, the Greater London Authority (GLA) and local authorities.