04 Jun 2018 Press release Cities and lifestyles

Olympic movement joins CleanSeas campaign and commits to #BeatPlasticPollution

Nairobi, 4 June 2018Today, the International Olympic Committee announced an ambitious plan to eradicate single-use plastics from the organisation and its events around the world with seven major sporting bodies and representatives from over 20 National Olympic Committees taking action in support of the UN’s CleanSeas campaign.

The sports bodies that will be joining the initiative to cut plastic waste include World Sailing, the International Association of Athletics Federations, the International Triathlon Union, the International Ice Hockey Federation, World Rugby, World Golf and the International Surfing Association.

Erik Solheim, the Executive Director of UN Environment and a member of the IOC Sustainability and Legacy Commission, said: "This is the biggest commitment ever made from sport to address plastic pollution. The International Olympic Committee's Clean Seas pledge will transform the awareness and use of plastic waste in sport. We are delighted to see the actions taken by so many sporting organisations as well as sponsors.

In line with the CleanSeas campaign, IOC’s Sustainability Strategy includes focus areas on sourcing and resource management, as well as encouraging best practices across the Olympic Movement.

The IOC has already begun reducing waste at its headquarters with thousands of items being removed, as well as at the Olympic Museum, and is working to drive responsible material use at all IOC events in collaboration with its suppliers by 2020.

"The IOC is embracing sustainability in its day-to-day operations, as well as taking a proactive leadership role that inspires Olympic stakeholders and the wider sports community to implement best sustainability practices,” said Prince Albert of Monaco, who serves as the Chair of the IOC Sustainable and Legacy Commission. “Making a pledge to the UN Environment's Clean Seas programme is another important example of how the IOC is implementing its Sustainability Strategy. Reducing our reliance on single-use plastics is vital in the efforts to combatting the detrimental effects of plastic pollution.”

Moving forward, the IOC will provide educational toolkits and workshops to the sports community, and drive innovative solutions together with its partners. With assistance from Olympic Solidarity funding, coastal clean-ups, campaigns and education programmes have already begun in Oceania, a region that witnesses first-hand the impacts of plastic pollution in the oceans.

Many of the IOC’s stakeholders have committed to taking action towards minimising their impact on the environment.

  • World Sailing has pledged to implement an ambitious waste reduction strategy for all its events by 2019, and launch an education programme to reach an estimated 70 million sailors.
  • The International Triathlon Union (ITU) will work closely with its Local Organising Committees National Federations, stakeholders and the IOC to raise awareness of the issue of marine litter.
  • The International Surf Association (ISA) will elect a Sustainability Partner by the end of 2018, aiming to implement a plan to use, reuse and recycle plastics at ISA World Championships by 2019, as well as expand its education materials on sustainability.
  • The International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) is decreasing plastic and encouraging recycling in its headquarters, and providing recycling education opportunities at national and youth camps.
  • The International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) has pledged to introduce measures to reduce plastics at future IAAF events and encourage IAAF member federations to follow suit.
  • The International Golf Federation (IGF) is working with governing bodies, national associations and grassroots facilities to drive more responsible resource use through the GEO Foundation. 
  • World Rugby has undertaken a variety of actions to reuse and recycle, and will implement new measures with a focus on the reduction of plastic waste.
  • National Olympic Committees from around the world will be joining the Clean Seas movement with their own commitments, such as Spain and Germany, who are reducing waste and working on raising awareness nationally.


About UN Environment:

UN Environment is the leading global voice on the environment. It provides leadership and encourages partnership in caring for the environment by inspiring, informing, and enabling nations and peoples to improve their quality of life without compromising that of future generations. UN Environment works with governments, the private sector, civil society and with other UN entities and international organizations across the world.

About the International Olympic Committee

The International Olympic non-governmental organisation responsible for the modern Olympic Games. Based in Lausanne, Switzerland, the IOC organises the modern Olympic Games and Youth Olympic Games, held in summer and winter, every four years. In 2009, the UN General Assembly granted the IOC Permanent Observer status.

For media inquiries, please contact:

Keith Weller, Head of News and Media, UN Environment. [email protected]