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Head Of UNEP To Attend Opening Of Olympic Games

Head of UN environment agency to attend opening of Olympic Games

4 August 2008 - The head of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), Achim Steiner, is to attend the opening ceremony for the Beijing Olympics on 8 August as part of the agency's continuing support for the greening of the games, it was announced today.

UNEP has been working with the Beijing Olympic Committee for the last three years with the aim of making the games environmentally-friendly.

The Chinese Government has spent $17 billion on a large-scale green drive ahead of the games, including a series of long-term environmental improvements for the city.

As part of this, the city has introduced tougher standards for vehicle emissions and phased out ozone-depleting substances. The authorities have also expanded Beijing's public transport network with three new subway lines and have introduced 3,800 compressed natural gas buses - one of the largest fleets in any city in the world.

UNEP says that the Olympic venues themselves also have many green features: 20 per cent of their energy comes from clean wind sources; solar power features prominently in the Olympic Village; and the Bird's Nest stadium has an advanced rainwater recycling system.

Mr. Steiner will visit several of the green facilities built for the Olympics including Beijing's newly-inaugurated subway lines and the Solar Wall - 2,000 square metres of solar panels.

On 8 August, he will take part in the Olympic torch relay before attending the Opening Ceremony. While in the city, Mr. Steiner will also meet with China's Environment Minister, Zhou Shengxian, and Wan Gang, the Minister for Science and Technology.

Mr. Steiner will also take part in a special event on volunteering for the Olympics on 7 August alongside film star Zhou Xun, who is the Chinese Goodwill Ambassador for the UN Development Programme (UNDP), and Khalid Malik, the UN Resident Coordinator in China.

In the second half of 2008, UNEP will produce a post-games environmental report to assess the successes and challenges of the environmental measures taken by Beijing for the 2008 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

ENDS

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