SA aims for green 2010 World Cup

Learning from previous hosts Germany, South Africa has a wonderful opportunity to ensure that the 2010 Soccer World Cup conforms to the principles of sustainable development, a top United Nations official said on Monday.

“If this is an issue that is considered only of interest to the environmentalists in the corner, then basically most of South Africa will not really pay much attention to it ... You have to look at multiple benefits, and I think that is the key to making a green World Cup not just a four-week fireworks event ... but to use the four years you that you now have to trigger the imagination of the nation,” said Achim Steiner, the executive director of the United Nations Environment Programme.

Steiner was speaking at the opening day of Africa’s first hosting of the Global Environment Facility (GEF) in Cape Town.

The GEF is a partnership to protect the global environment and promote sustainable development.

On Monday it was announced that the fund had been replenished in an amount of $3,13-billion.

Some of this money will be used to boost South Africa’s public transport in the run-up to the 2010 world cup, a project endorsed by football icons Ronaldo of Brazil and Zinedine Zidane of France.

“So we are delighted that an initiative is under way to carry this green trophy forward in South Africa.
We hope the project ... will play its part in making the next Fifa World Cup healthier, more enjoyable ... while acting as a catalyst for the development of 21st century public transport across Africa and the developing world,” they said in a joint statement distributed at the conference.

Steiner said South Africa had the time to plan properly, mentioning the higher-than-expected uptake of the notion of using public transport in Germany.

“If you plan ahead you can make using public transport not a sacrifice, but in fact an advantage to getting to the World Cup.

“So I think, one of the things is that South Africa has the time to plan ahead so that it doesn’t have to be an act of environmental faith that you use the public transport system. It simply is the most convenient and most practical way of getting there,” he said.

Lessons can also be learnt about waste management, from the banal paper cups to larger items, as well as the role of designated soccer stadiums to prevent them from becoming redundant during weekdays.

Speaking about a heightened “consciousness”, Steiner said South Africa could multiply the use of enormous investments, with a particular emphasis on the role the private sector and civil society could play.

Tumi Makgabo, spokesperson for the country’s 2010 Soccer Cup, said the clear message was ensuring the country had an environmental plan to implement.

“It is an opportunity for us to take it seriously and to get started,” Makgabo said.

“In terms of the local organising committee, environmental friendliness is obviously something that is key, and it is something we are discussing,” she said.

Earlier, Monique Barbut, newly elected chief executive of the GEF, confirmed that $11-million was earmarked for transport projects in South Africa.

But she emphasised nothing had been finalised.

Among mooted projects were those demonstrating alternative fuels and technologies such as bio-diesel, bio-ethanol and fuel cells.—Sapa

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