The 2008 Olympics represented a major way for China to signal the country's opening up policy. Alongside this important effort in public diplomacy, the Games catalyzed a major project of urban transformation and new infrastructure development in the capitol city. Most of the capital invested in the 2008 Olympics was in fact spent on infrastructure, which has helped shape and foster a greater environmental awareness among the public and was an opportunity to showcase China?s commitment to growing in an environmentally sustainable manner.
Source: Shanghai Manual: A Guide for Sustainable Urban Development in the 21st Century (2010)
The Beijing Olympics highlighted a number of environmental issues, including the city's poor air quality. During the bid phase in 2000, Beijing set ambitious goals to improve the city's environment. The goals ranged from addressing air and water quality and waste management to introducing environmental considerations in the development of new infrastructure.
Initiatives to improve air quality and reduce air pollution included the relocation and retrofitting of major polluting industries, restrictions on construction sites, conversion of coal burning boilers to cleaner fuels like natural gas and the implementation of vehicle emissions standards within the city. In addition, Beijing vastly expanded its transportation infrastructure to improve local, regional, national and international connections. The improvement in public transport continues to help millions in their daily commute and has helped reduce the amount of automobile pollution since the conclusion of the Olympic games.
In addition, Beijing significantly upgraded its wastewater treatment and sewage network capacity. A variety of water saving schemes and rainwater collection and re-use systems were implemented in the Olympic Village and competition venues. The city also made efforts to improve the quality and availability of clean drinking water, placing the protection of drinking water reservoirs high on the agenda. Beijing also implemented an improved waste processing system throughout the city in preparation for the Olympics that still benefits the city today.
Beijing 2008 shows how a mega-event can have a significant impact on urban infrastructure and livability provided that it is properly integrated in an already existing programme of infrastructure, technology and policy roadmap development.
Green economy policies, practices and initiatives
Location: Beijing, China
Date of completion: 2008
Copyright United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs
Part of the Sustainable Development Knowledge Platform - sustainabledevelopment.un.org