WWF: IOC shares responsibility for environmental consequences of the Sochi Olympics
Environmentalists are concerned about the situation with ecological damage to Caucasus’ nature after the Olympic Games 2014 that not only stays unresolved till today, but also worsens.
«WWF Russia believes that the international Olympic movement represented by IOC shares the responsibility for the environmental damage caused by the Sochi Olympics as well as for the potential environmental disaster if all development plans are realized», - is stated in the letter. According to WWF, it was the Olympic infrastructure construction which triggered attacks on globally unique ecosystems, otherwise naturally protected by limited access and tremendous costs of development.
The letter draws attention to the lack of action of both the ROC and the Commission on Sustainable Development and the legacy of the International Olympic Committee, headed by Prince of Monaco Albert II.
Among the most dangerous environmental consequences of the Sochi Olympics WWF lists the following:
1. In March, 2017 Russian Government allowed long-term lease for developing ski resorts in Sochi Federal Refuge – the area, which was promised to be included in the Caucasus State Biosphere Reserve and the World Heritage Site. Leasing agreements have been signed and the construction has begun.
2. Part of Caucasian State Biosphere Reserve (the World Heritage Site) has lost its biological value because relict Colchis box-tree (Buxus colchica) has died off being eaten by a moth brought with seedlings for Olympic decoration. The moth started from the coast, completely destroyed unique Yew-Box-tree grove and then spread over vast area in Russia and Georgia. The moth is still spreading and it is possible that the Tertiary species Buxus colchica might entirely disappear. If this happens, it will be the first species loss on Earth due to the Olympics.
3. Zoning of Sochi National Park adjacent to the World Heritage Site is proposed to be changed again allowing resort construction within meters of the Site’s border.
4. According to the “Master Plan for the Development of the City of Sochi” submitted by the city authorities for public consultations proposed roads will cross the World Heritage Site.
5. The decision has been taken on the construction of waste incineration plant in Sochi instead of contemporary recycling factory promised in the Bid Book.
WWF Russia suggests that the IOC immediately send a monitoring mission with the participation of UNEP (the United Nations Environment Program) and IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) as technical partners to assess the implementation of environmental commitments adopted by Russia in preparation for the Sochi Olympics.