Significant strides are being made to green the 2008 Olympic Games, a report issued by the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) says.
The hosting of the Games is also proving to be a catalyst for accelerating environmental improvements across the city, as Beijing strives to balance rapid, often double-digit economic growth with health and environmental protection, according to the report issued for the 7th World Conference on Sport and the Environment which closed on Saturday.
"The initial score card on the Beijing Olympics and Paralympics 2008 is positive in terms of the greening of the Games," said Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary-General and UNEP Executive Director.
"The more than US$12 billion spent by the Municipal Government and Government of China appears to have been well spent and will be even more well spent if the lessons learnt and measures adopted are picked up by municipalities across the country so as to leave a real and lasting nationwide legacy," he added.
The UNEP report says environmental measures are being introduced covering waste management, cleaner transport systems and water treatment, as well as new urban green belts including a 580-hectare Olympic Forest Park.
The Beijing Organizing Committee for the Olympic Games (BOCOG) should also be commended for accelerating the phase-out of ozone depleting chemicals and for the provision of energy efficiency and green energy appliances at buildings and sports venues, said Steiner.
"An interesting innovation is the widespread use in the venues of ground, water or air source heat pumps systems to provide buildings with heat in winter and air conditioning in summer time," the report says.
Solar power is also being extensively deployed at stadium and at the Olympic village and the organizers have well-developed plans to re-use and recycle venues after the Games close.
When Beijing won the bid to host the 2008 Olympic and Paralympic Games, a decision was taken to accelerate and add to the existing Beijing Sustainable Development Plan scheduled to be completed in 2015.
Twenty key "greening" projects are at the center of the plan alongside the Olympic Green project incorporating 20 venues, the Olympic Village and the 760 hectare Forest Park.
The UNEP report covers these initiatives and reflects on the wider impacts of the Games on Beijing and beyond including organizers of future high-profile international events.
(Xinhua News Agency October 29, 2007)