Friday, April 3, 2009

Enough of the 8th

Whenever the United Nations is involved, there has to be a broad, sweeping (dare I say, vague?) statement to end a convention with something to think about.

The 8th World Conference on Sport and the Environment, which ended March 31, was no different.

The Vancouver Declaration, under the letterhead of the UN Environment Program, International Olympic Committee and VANOC, acknowledged the convention was held on the traditional territories of the Four Host First Nations as the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics rapidly approach.

The economic crisis and importance of youth in the world of sport acted as backdrops for the convention, which was fueled by inspiration and innovation.

Nine recommendations were issued for National Olympic committees, international sports federations, Games organizing committees and corporate sponsors.

The declaration emphasized the role of organizing committees and bid cities, whose examples "should be studied by others in the sports world for possible application at an appropriate scale in their own programs.

"The sharing of and transferring of these best practices, is essential in ensuring that the sustainability of the Olympic and Paralympic Games is continuously advanced."

Community-based organizations and athletes -- the grassroots -- are central to local involvement and inspiring youth.

Thankfully, the UN appoints a rapporteur, a sage of sorts to offer a quickie review of what actually went on.

That was the job of David Chernushenko, the founder of the Living Lightly Project and vice-chair of Canada's National Round Table of the Environment and the Economy.

Chernushenko found the convention contained more action, less theory and sponsor innovation. He suggested the terms "sustainable sport" and "sustainability through sport" replace sport and environment. He recommended a greater emphasis on individual action, values and principles, better communication and solutions through collaboration.

"Humans wish to do more good, not just less bad. We have the power not just to reduce and protect and minimize, but to improve, regenerate and sow seeds, in sport as elsewhere in society."

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