Tag Archives: olympics

Guanabara Bay Pollution #Rio2016

Guanabara Bay is the largest bay in the world by water volume and is a popular place for touring boats to sail.  The bay commands breathtaking views of Sugar Loaf Mountain and will be the home for sailing events at the Olympic Games starting shortly in Brazil.

As well as Rio, there are several major ports in the Bay area which bring their own environmental costs to the area with major oil spillages that have affected the area for many years (the last one being in 2000 and which is still being cleaned up).  The Bay once held a health ecosystem, large fishing stock and clean beaches, but deforestation and urban development have left the area littered with debris.

50,000 Descend Upon Rio De Janeiro For Rio+20 Earth Summit

The release of raw sewage remains a major pollution problem for Guanabara’s water. Most of the 55 rivers that flow into the Bay have been declared ‘dead’ by scientists. Tonnes of stinking sewage from Rio’s millions of residents pour into the Bay untreated every day.

As part of the latest ‘Clean Guanabara’ plan announced by the government, when planning for the 2016 Olympics, seven new sewage treatment plants were promised. Disappointingly though, only one plant is in operation. Meanwhile, sports people training for the Rio Olympic sailing events increasingly report falling ill after capsizing their boats here.  International Olympic sailing competitors have complained, during recent training, of falling ill after swallowing some of the polluted waters whilst trying to avoid plastic debris and dead animals floating in the waters.  As well as these health hazards, discarded plastic bags can wrap themselves around the boats’ rudders which can be a setback in a sport where speed is of the essence.

sailing rio

Below is the official view of the Environment Secretary for Rio State – Andre Correa from an interview given on June 29th:

Q: Can you swim in the bay?

A: It depends on the location. There are places where you can swim. I swam in the area where the sailing will be. There was major work, a 1.2-billion-reais project ($356 million) but it’s not obvious to ordinary people. I think we have to take small steps. Knowing the financial difficulties of Brazil, whoever said the bay will be clean in less than 20, 25 years is lying.

Q: The pollution of Guanabara Bay has been on the official agenda since the Earth Summit in Rio in 1992. What’s gone wrong?

A: There was a major error in strategy and communication. There was an investment of about 2.5 billion reais ($741 million) and the local people were told that with this funding, the bay would be clean. Those who understand this issue know that this isn’t enough funding to overcome the challenges. We will have a clean bay the day the 15 municipalities bordering it have sewage treatment. Studies show that’s going to require 15 billion reais ($4.4 billion), and we’re far from that goal. Brazil is having a financial crisis and Rio state doesn’t have the money. That’s why the government decided to seek help from the private sector.

Q: The Baia Viva environmental activist group says the pollution in the bay can cause disease. Should athletes be worried?

A: The bay is not a homogeneous body of water, it has various problems. But the water quality at the entrance of the bay, where the sailing competitions will be held, meets international standards. You can swim there. Water flows in from the sea. The major challenge as concerns the Olympics is floating waste. It’s a major problem that we face. The most important thing — more important than removing waste — is preventing it from getting there. We have installed 15 barriers and there will be 17 in place during the Games, eliminating 280 tons of waste per month. But we need people to realize that when they throw a plastic bottle on the ground, the rain will carry it to the bay and no government or investment can combat that. Environmental education is crucial.

Q: How much of the bay has been decontaminated? The authorities have said they would clean up 80 percent of the pollution, but on Tuesday the mayor said it would be 60 percent. Which is correct?

A: There was a big misunderstanding, resulting in a deficit in credibility. There was talk about objectives but there was no financial support for attaining them. I will not cite any specific rate. It is necessary that the regional government and the people refer to the same rate. In cooperation with the Inter-American Development Bank and researchers, we are in the process of launching a digital platform so everyone can follow in real time what’s being done with the investments in the bay.

Q: Who’s responsible?

A: Brazil has a federal system. Various agencies are involved in managing the bay. Municipalities deal with waste. The Navy, a federal agency, is responsible for surface pollution. I’m responsible for industrial waste. We need a model to work in a coordinated manner in the bay.

rio rubbish.jpg


Rio 2016 – Embrace (Sustainability Management)

The ‘Embrace’ proposal is aimed at delivering sustainability before, during and after the Games. With our partners and sponsors, we will develop projects and programmes that will serve as seeds to be cultivated by society as a whole.

Our way of working sustainably is based on integrating three pillars – PLANETPEOPLE and PROSPERITY – and our aims are to:

  • establish a standard of sustainability for holding events
  • insert sustainability into the DNA of event organisation
  • serve as an example of good sustainable practices
  • be transparent through dialogue with society


Delivering low-impact Games, minimising pressure on materials and energy resources, without impairing the quality of the event.

Rio 2016 is following sustainability guidelines and embracing low-impact operations in its processes. This means that even before beginning an activity, we consider how it can be delivered efficiently, from an environmental point of view.


The Games will inevitably generate environmental impacts. We are talking about high consumption of water, energy, raw materials, food and so on. Rio 2016 undertakes to use all resources conscientiously and rationally, prioritising certified, reusable and recyclable materials.

• Buying 100% certified wood → Rio 2016 undertakes to buy all the timber items required for the Games from sources with chain of custody certification. This means that, in addition to sustainably managed logging, traceability is guaranteed from the time the timber leaves the forest through to the end user.

• Sustainable headquarters → Rio 2016 has its headquarters in a temporary building. After it is taken down, 80% of the material will be reused in future structures. The building consumes 70% less energy than ordinary buildings. Timers on bathroom wash basins, intelligent flushes and a rainwater collection system enables us to cut water consumption. Furthermore, the building is fully accessible to people with physical and visual impairments.

• Material life-cycle analysis → Up to 2016, the visual identity of the Games will be displayed throughout the city of Rio de Janeiro in various forms and printed on various kinds of material. To ensure more conscientious and sustainable choices, the organising committee has analysed the life-cycles of 106 materials that will be used by the Games visual identity team to minimise the environmental impact.

Carbon Emissions

To deliver low-impact Games, we are working on a number of initiatives to cut our emissions. We have completed a study of our carbon footprint and defined an emissions management strategy, based on impact measurement, cutting emissions, mitigation where possible and offsetting what cannot be mitigated.

• Biodiesel from recycled cooking oil → Fleets of buses and trucks will be fuelled by diesel containing 20% recycled cooking oil. Biodiesel emits less carbon and sulphur than mineral diesel. It is estimated that 20,000 oil collectors will be involved, boosting the development of this production chain.

• Logistics efficiency programme → Logistics are a major factor in boosting the Games’ CO2 emissions. Rio 2016 is designing an intelligent route model to cut transportation time for the more than 30 million items to be bought in for the Games. This will also cut fuel consumption, as well as carbon emissions.

• Technology-based carbon mitigation plan → This plan aims to mitigate 100% of the emissions generated by the Rio 2016 Games, which will amount to 500,000 tonnes of co2eq direct emissions from our operations and 1.5 million tonnes of co2eq from spectators. Mitigation projects involve the agriculture, manufacturing and civil engineering sectors, and they will reap short, medium and long-term benefits.

Managing carbon footprint Rio 2016
Managing carbon footprint Rio 2016


For Rio 2016, one of the key points related to sustainability is waste management, since large volumes of waste will be generated daily during the Games. Our great challenge is to minimise waste and raise awareness among spectators, athletes, volunteers and others involved in the event in regard to the correct way to dispose of and recycle waste.

• Rio 2016 headquarters waste management → Before the Games, our office is the only waste producer. Our workers have been instructed on how to dispose of it correctly. Some of our actions include not buying plastic cups, reducing the number of printers available and not providing individual waste bins.

• Guide to sustainability for packaging → One of the critical points in the generation of waste is packaging. With this in mind, in April 2013, Rio 2016 published a guide to sustainable packaging, in which the committee laid down sustainability options and mandatory requirements for this category of items, including labelling, ecodesign, accessibility of information and packaging materials.

• Games waste management strategies → Our strategy does not only cover the Games-time period: it begins during the preparatory phase and ends when the venues are dismantled. Recycling cooperatives will be involved and the strategy is based on the following sequence: waste generation avoidance → minimising volume → managing inevitable waste → promoting behavioural change. The strategy also includes treatment of organic waste through composting, in order to reduce the amount that is sent to landfills.


Promoting Games for everyone, offering the best Olympic and Paralympic experience.

By embracing and welcoming everyone, Rio 2016 proposes to engage them and raise awareness on important topics, such as diversity, inclusion and accessibility. We are working so that Olympic and Paralympic values and attitudes transcend the Games and provide inspiration for people’s daily behaviour in the workplace and in society in general.


Deliver prosperous Games, inspiring the establishment of a chain of qualified suppliers and developing a management model prioritising transparency and dialogue with stakeholders.

Rio 2016 has embraced the challenging responsibility of making conscientious choices for everything purchased, also covering the dismantling cycle. The aim is to improve the quality standards of our suppliers and their production chains. Based on transparency, we will make our documents and reports accessible to the public, giving full details of our management models and assuming accountability for all our activities. Furthermore, we will create an environment that facilitates dialogue and exchange with all civil society participants.

For more information read the official sustainability documents here.


Rio 2016 – Maracana Stadium

The legendary Maracanã stadium stages the decisive matches of the football tournament and two of the Games’ most striking moments: the opening and closing ceremonies. The stadium was recently modernised for the 2014 World Cup.

The long list of upgrades to the iconic venue includes the installation of world-class rainwater harvesting system and an enormous bank of solar panels. In addition to the energy efficiency and water savings, the Maracanã stadium has further polished its green credentials by reducing CO2 emissions, responsible for greenhouse gases, improving the local environment and optimizing use of construction materials.

The stadium’s sustainable performance saw it obtain a Leadership in fifa_stadiumEnergy and Environmental Design (LEED) certificate seal from the US Green Building Council Brazil (USGBC). The LEED certificate seal is considered one of the foremost global sustainability ratings for buildings.To achieve the LEED certification, the Maracanã stadium was assessed in seven areas: sustainable space, water, energy and atmospheric efficiency, materials and resources, internal environmental quality, innovation and processes and regional priority credits.

An instantly recognisable feature of the upgrade is the approximately 2,500m² of photovoltaic panels installed around the stadium’s distinctive roof that can produce enough energy to power 240 homes and helps reduce the stadium’s power consumption.

A less conspicuous feature of the stadium is its impressive array of 18 massive rainwater harvesting tanks. The rainwater tanks are fed from the roof, which have been engineered to collect large amounts of rainwater for use in the stadium’s water systems, reducing its reliance on externally supplied water by 40%. The modular rainwater tanks supply water to irrigate the pitch, as well as for use in the 292 toilets and restrooms. The restroom facilities are also equipped with ecological flushing systems and intelligent faucets.

Sustainability seems to go hand in hand with the Olympic movement nowadays with each host striving to make THEIR games the greenest ever.



The Rio 2016 Olympic Torch is Lit

At first glance it’s a ceremony which would look at home in Dorne or Mereen — but this is no magic spell conjured by the Lord of Light in the fantasy television series Game of Thrones.

This tale belongs to another legend — to Prometheus, the Titan, who stole fire from the mighty Zeus and passed it on as a gift to the human race.
The adventure of Prometheus would inspire one of the most iconic fires in the world — the Olympic flame.
Today, Thursday 21st April, the torch for the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro will be lit using the rays of the sun and a concave mirror in Ancient Olympia — the birthplace of the Games.
The ceremony is led by the High Priestess, who prays to the ancient Gods, Apollo and Zeus, while lighting the torch.
When the High Priestess arrives into the stadium, she then lights the torch of the first runner to signal the start of the relay.
According to historic documents, the first ancient Games took place in 776 BC and continued for 12 centuries.
But it was not until 1936 that the modern Olympics began to use the Olympic flame which had been lit amidst the ruins of Olympia.
Eleftherios Petrounias, Greece’s very own gymnastics superstar, will take the flame from the hand of the High Priestess and begin the iconic relay which will end in Rio on August 5.
Petrounias, who won gold on the rings at the World and European Championships last year, said he was shocked to be chosen to receive the torch.
“I was driving when I heard,” he told the Games’ official website. “The Bluetooth was on so I could hear in my car. And as a result of being so happy and surprised, I almost crashed my car.”
The torch will be handed over to the organizers of the Rio games on April 27 after a tour around Greece.
From there on it will embark on a 95-day tour of Brazil, visiting 83 cities, 26 state capitals and 500 towns.
The torch relay is estimated to reach 90% of the population while covering around 20,000 kilometers of the country by road and 16,000km by air.
The relay, which will involve around 12,000 torchbearers, will end at Rio’s iconic Maracana Stadium on August 5 at the Games’ Opening Ceremony.
Petrounias, will pass the flame onto Giovane Gavio, a former Brazilian volleyball player, who won gold at Barcelona in 1992 and Athens 2004.
The Games themselves present Brazil with many challenges to deal with the environmental impact of the consumption of natural resources over the 45 days of the Games from the sheer volume of people arriving and travelling around the country to the disposal of the waste that they will inevitably create.  The Organising Committee has taken this on board and produced a sustainability brand – Embrace.  Read more here about the challenges and the solutions for The Games.