The head of the United Nations Environment Programme has welcomed the sustainability policy for London 2012 Olympic Games and Paralympic Games which includes initiatives to help address global environment issues such as climate change.

In an Olympic host city first, the new policy confirms London 2012’s commitment to the innovative ‘One Planet Olympics’ theme, which links enhancement of local environment and sustainable development initiatives to tackling global issues such as climate change.

The London Games sustainability policy, approved by the Olympic Board, places a major emphasis reducing emissions of greenhouse gases – through energy efficient design, use of renewable energy, environmentally friendly transport and management of green spaces as a strategy designed to assist the planet’s climate.

Achim Steiner, United Nations Under Secretary-General and Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) said: “From the games in Lillehammer in 1994 through to Sydney in 2000 and more recently Torino in 2006, the environment has increasingly become a key and a winning competitor at the Olympic Games”.

“London can take this green torch forward by setting demanding and verifiable targets in areas from waste minimization to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. In doing so, London 2012 can play its part in demonstrating that mass spectator events can be entertaining, enthralling and environmentally-friendly. I wish the London organizing committee every success”.

The London 2012 policy also demonstrates how the Games can provide a platform for helping to address long-term solutions for this global challenge in terms of energy and water resource management, infrastructure development, transport, local food production and carbon offsetting. Particular efforts will be made to minimise the environmental footprint and carbon emissions of the Games and legacy development, notably by optimising energy efficiency, energy demand and use of low carbon and renewable energy sources.

The new sustainability policy, which builds on the IOC’s commitment to environmental excellence and sustainable development, has also been backed by leading athletes and international environmental experts and organisations.

British double gold medallist, Dame Kelly Holmes said: We can be proud that the London Games will not only be providing great new venues for the athletes but will also be aiming to provide environmental benefits to the communities of London as well as the planet's climate... to show how the Olympics can bring the world together through sport to tackle important issues like climate change.

“We congratulate London 2012 on the timely launch of their Sustainability Policy,” says Linda Coady, Vice President of Sustainability for the Vancouver 2010 Winter Games. "Both London and Vancouver have significant sustainability expertise. We look forward to a continuing collaboration with the London 2012 organising committee as we each work towards delivering sustainable Games."

Tatsuo Okada, Executive Director of the Japan-based Global Sports Alliance, also offered his congratulations to London 2012 for the timely launch of its sustainability policy. He said, “I firmly believe that we need to encourage young people to engage in sport activities because sport can not only make them healthy but to promote social and environmental awareness.”

David Stubbs, Head of Environment and Sustainability at the London 2012 organising committee added that the new policy and the One Planet Olympics theme provide a framework for achieving sustainable Games in accordance with the London 2012 Candidature commitments and with respect to Olympic ideals.

He acknowledged the huge contribution from WWF-UK, BioRegional and many other sustainability organisations in helping London 2012 develop this theme during the Bid, and looked forward to renewing these partnerships and working together to put it into practice over the coming years.