28 Jul 2016 Story Transport

Travel to Rio 2016 on a Green Passport: sustainable tourism safeguarding Brazil’s environment

Spectators at the Rio 2016 Olympics and Paralympics Games can make sure their visit doesn’t harm Brazil’s environment by trying out the easy-to-follow eco-tips and environmentally friendly itineraries devised through a UNEP-backed green tourism campaign.

Tourism accounts for 5 per cent of global CO2 emissions and projections show that, unless we action now, emissions could triple by 2035.

Under the motto ‘I Take Care of My Destination,’ the Rio Green Passport initiative is advising visitors on how to reduce their impact on the environment while also making their stay more interesting and relaxing. Travel tips range from how to reduce your luggage and minimize your local transport needs, to engaging with the South American country’s lively culture.

Available on the web and via a free smartphone app, the information includes crafted itineraries that will help locals as well as foreigners discover Rio, the five cities hosting Olympic soccer and other destinations around Brazil in an authentic and low-impact way. There are ten itineraries for Rio alone, from nightlife tours to mountain hikes.

There is also a list of hotels, bars and restaurants that visitors can reward for their sustainable business practices. All have made commitments to, for example, save water, reduce food waste or take more social responsibility. Visitors can report online on whether the publicly displayed promises are being kept.

The Green Passport Rio 2016 Edition is part of a major effort by the organizers of the Games to reduce the impact of the mammoth 17-day event, which is expected to draw up to 1 million foreign guests. Previous international sports events have been criticized for a legacy of environmental degradation and inappropriate infrastructure.

For Rio 2016, the Organizing Committee headquarters and many other facilities at the Games are temporary structures that will be dismantled and recycled afterward; public transportation will be ramped up during the Games to reduce greenhouse gas emissions; and new procurement rules favor sustainable suppliers of products from fish to furniture.

Despite those efforts, the overall carbon footprint of the Games is significant. As a result, UNEP and the Organizing Committee, together with the Brazilian government, are intensifying their promotion of sustainable products and services, and of environmental awareness among tourists, with the goal of leaving environmental responsibility as a legacy of the Games.

UNEP launched the Green Passport campaign in 2008 with partners including the French and Brazilian governments in order to promote sustainable tourism by helping travellers make more responsible choices. It is part of UNEP’s wider emphasis on developing more sustainable patterns of both consumption and production on a global scale.

Today, the Global Green Passport website is available in English, French, Greek, German, Portuguese, Spanish, Korean and Chinese. Brazil is the first destination to develop a national Green Passport travel guide. Previous editions were developed in South Africa, France, Costa Rica, Ecuador and French Overseas Territories.

In 2014, UNEP and the Brazilian ministries of the environment, sports and tourism launched a special edition of the Green Passport for the soccer World Cup in Brazil. UNEP and the Rio 2016 Organizing Committee launched the latest edition last year.

Under its partnership agreement with the Organizing Committee, UNEP also has been monitoring and evaluating Rio 2016’s sustainability activities and helping the organizers engage with civil society.