The Olympic Forest Network: a new initiative for the environment

by Chiara Aruffo

The IOC Executive Board approved the creation of the Olympic Forest Network, a new initiative to become climate positive in 2024.

The Olympic movement continues its efforts to achieve a positive climate balance by 2024. The latest development is the creation of the Olympic Forest Network, officially approved by the IOC Executive Board, which met in Lausanne on 8 and 9 September. The project comes in the wake of the Olympic Forest project in Senegal and Mali, as well as the Great Green Wall in the Sahel region in Africa.

An important aspect of the Olympic Forest Network is the bottom-up approach. In fact, National Olympic Committees themselves proposed the creation of Olympic forests worldwide, following the success of the first Olympic Forest. The IOC supported and approved the idea, imposing a series of principles that projects must respect to become part of the network:

  • Contribute to enhancing climate and nature protection and resilience;
  • Support and be delivered in partnership with local communities;
  • Be developed and implemented in collaboration with the relevant experts and authorities; and
  • Have a long-term maintenance plan in place.

Several national committees have already proposed the inclusion in the Olympic Forest Network of existing projects that are in line with the principles expressed by the IOC. For example, the Papua New Guinea Olympic Committee worked with local communities, the National Fisheries Authority and the Environmental Conservation and Protection Authority to restore a 3km strip of endangered mangroves, sustaining a vital ecosystem. The Spanish Olympic Committee, in agreement with the Ministry of the Environment and the Federation of Spanish Municipalities, launched a project to plant new forests to compensate for residual carbon emissions related to sports activities.

Team PNG athletes with mangrove trees they planted at Gabagaba village. (Credits: A. Molen/ PNG Olympic Committee)

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