Addressing environmental concerns

[by  Brian lewis, General Secretary of the Trinidad and Tobago Olympic Committee]


In keeping silent about evil, in burying it so deep within us that no sign of it appears on the surface,
we are implanting it, and it will rise up a thousand fold in the future.
When we neither punish nor reproach evildoers…
we are ripping the foundations of justice from beneath new generations.

– Alexander Solzhenitsyn

“Dishonest and Shameless, them people too disgusting” those were the words used by a teenager to express his views on politics and politicians in T&T. I happened to over hear the tail end of a discussion about something the group had seen on television.

 Taken aback by the intense manner with which the youngster spoke I asked myself; are we as a nation losing the moral authority needed to lead, inspire and motivate the youth of the nation?

Perception is reality. Moral authority is easily lost in the absence of Respect, Integrity and Humility. On the subject of leadership, The Olympic Movement has taken the leadership role regarding the issue of sport and the environment.
Next year’s Beijing Olympics presents a challenge for the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and China.
 Pollution is a major issue.
No amount of public relation spin will change the fact that a United Nation report suggests that Air pollution in Beijing will not significantly improve before next year's Olympic Games.
Pollution according to the report is said to be more than three times the safe limits set by the World Health Organization.
This despite claims from Beijing Olympic officials that air quality will not be a problem.
The report further asserts that air pollution will not significantly improve before the Olympics begin next August.
This must be a worry for the IOC as the creditability of its sport and environment agenda is at stake.
The IOC has articulated a significant role for itself in support of environmental protection and sustainable development, with significant progress being made since the 1994 Winter Olympic Games in Lillehammer, Norway.
That year, the Olympic charter was amended so that the role of the IOC was extended to encourage and support a responsible concern for environmental issues.
The environment is now one of three pillars of Olympism along with sport and culture.
The IOC in furtherance of its mandate produced a guide on Sport, Environment and Sustainable development and adopted an Olympic Movement version of Agenda 21.
 About four years ago, the TTOC started planning a Sport and Environment conference. The response from the Environment Management Agency (EMA) was apathetic at best and TTOC enthusiasm waned as a consequence. Incidentally, there is no mention of the environment in the National Sport Policy.
The Ministry of Sport’s plan is to upgrade and construct 700 community sport facilities. Welcomed as this is, there will be a significant and detrimental impact on the environment if the potential impact is not thoughtfully and responsibly addressed.
Consistent with the aims and objectives of the wider Olympic movement, T&T Sport must ensure that it is not contributing to the degradation of the environment.
Getting back to the teenager I mentioned earlier. I wanted to tell him that he was being a bit harsh. But I hesitated. Why? Isn’t it a fact that the verbal and noise pollution during the recent general election campaign was in the main unacceptable?
Pollution in any form is unhealthy.

Campaign 41 is now history and as our politicians buckle down to the serious business of nation building they now have to live with the consequences of their words and deeds.
Corrupt or ego – driven leaders can do a lot of damage, but as we evolve and mature as a nation our emotional, mental and spiritual intelligence will catch up to our economical development. We will awaken to the truth that power is in the hands of the people not in elected officials or appointed bureaucrats. That the collective is stronger that the individual weaknesses. In other words as we say in sport: There is no I in team.
Addressing environmental concerns requires lifestyle and attitudinal changes.
 The most difficult decisions in our lives occur when our principles conflict.
But keep the faith, without hope, nothing changes. If we lose hope, then we are truly lost.