CHENNAI: Rio de Janeiro is hosting the 2016 Olympics and Paralympic Games for the first time in the South American continent. Millions are directly or indirectly involved in Rio, around Brazil and across the continent. The infrastructure required for the Games is massive with over 100,000 people directly involved in making it a success.
In a fortnight of fierce competitions, medals in approximately 300 events will be awarded even as Indians follow their favourites bleary eyed on late night television or raucously on social media. More than 15,000 athletes from 205 nations are expected to participate, and thousands of support personnel, media professionals, sports fans and tourists will converge from all corners of the globe.
Apart from the logistics, sustainable transformation goals were set for this momentous event. As we all know, even bidding to host the Olympics is a huge endeavor and every winning city uses the opportunity to bolster city development. Sustainability criteria have become an integral part of the Games to achieve unprecedented transformations — starting from design and planning through review and implementation, and even thereafter to the post-event activities. The principles that were adopted for Rio in particular were: responsibility, inclusion, integrity and transparency.
The 2016 Games were planned to jump start the long-term aspirations of Rio de Janeiro, namely to improve the social, physical and environmental fabric of the city, and to establish new milestones for large events in South America. The sustainability agenda was structured around several pertinent global issues on water treatment and conservation, renewable energy, environmental awareness, air quality and transport, neutrality in carbon, protection of soils and ecosystems, reforestation, sustainable design and construction techniques, biodiversity and culture, shopping and ecological certification and solid waste management!
In addition to this multi pointed environmental agenda, various other commitments to the social and economic dimensions of sustainability were included in the form of proposed actions and commitments such as the Host City Agreement (HCA). The Sustainability Strategies for 2016 are primarily focused on the planet: reducing the environmental impact of the projects
relating to the 2016 Games, leaving a smaller environmental footprint.
People: planning and delivery of the 2016 Games in an inclusive manner, offering access to everyone and prosperity: contributing to the economic development of the state and city of Rio de Janeiro. These three strategic objectives correspond to the principles of sustainable development ratified in the 1992 Earth Summit held in Rio by the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development, to embed sustainable management principles in the Olympic Games’ spirit.
At the core of all sustainability measures lies the principle of empowering a city’s population with a positive social balance once the games are done. Athletics and sports enthrall and mobilise a city and its urban population. Olympics are a powerful and transformational instrument for the integration of individuals as a nation and as a human race. Brazil maybe facing economic and social woes, but through the Rio’s Games and the festive Samba they have lifted the spirits and inspired all. Chak de India — Go for Gold!!
(The writer is an architect, urban designer, dancer and chief designer at Shilpa Architects)