By Duncan Mackay
British Sports Internet Writer of the Year

August 19 - Sochi's green programme for the 2014 Olympics and Paralympics was today praised by Theodore Oben, the head of the Outreach Unit at the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), who claimed that he has "a strong feeling that Sochi 2014 will be successful" in environmental protection.

The senior UNEP official highlighted the determination, from all organisations involved in delivering Sochi 2014, to ensure that Russia’s first Winter Games has a positive environmental impact.

Oben, said: "Everybody that I have talked to, not only within the Sochi 2014 Organising Committee but also the State Corporation Olympstroy, the Ministry of Natural Resources and other involved parties are keen to cooperate and unite efforts in greening the Games."

His comments coincided with an announcement by Russian Railways that they had decided to build an overpass as part of its promise to help preserve and enhance the unique natural habitat in the region.

Russian Railways is constructing the combined road and rail link between Adler and the Alpika-Service mountain resort and will build the overpass on the second section the combined road between the first and second tunnels.

This innovative architectural construction will enable a significant area of land to be re-cultivated, including the planting of box plants and other rare varieties of trees and plants.

The overpass will also ensure that the largest area in which box plants grow is left intact and the chance of soil erosion in the area is significantly reduced.

The decision was taken in partnership with a number of environmental organisation,s including Greenpeace Russia and the World Wildlife Fund.

Dmitry Chernyshenko, the President and chief executive of Sochi 2014, said: "We are continually working with our partners involved in the preparations for the 2014 Olympic and Paralympic Games to ensure we preserve and enhance the region’s unique natural environment.

"The overpass is a significant illustration of our committed to limiting the environmental impact of the construction of new infrastructure and facilities by setting areas aside to compensate for any loss of habitat caused by development.

"We are implementing a range of measures to ensure we limit our environmental impact, such as completing an environmental impact survey for each construction site, frequent inspections to ensure compliance with environmental laws and the measurement of air pollution, while the majority of developers employ in-house professional ecologists to oversee this work.”

The actions being taken are part of Russian Railways commitment to following the recommendation of Russian environmental experts, as well as protecting plants on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List.

It is all part of the precautions to preserve the environment that have impressed Oben (pictured), who claimed that the entire Sochi 2014 project was "full of very active people, dedicated to bringing positive sustainable change to their country".

Chernyshenko said: "As Mr Oben is a leading figure in the global environmental movement, it is a great honour that he has recognised our leadership in delivering the Games while ensuring steps are taken to not only protect, but also enhance the environment.

"Sochi 2014 is working closely with Mr Oben and the UNEP to ensure that we receive world leading advice about our environmental program.

"We are currently collaborating to monitoring the roll-out of Sochi 2014’s green construction standards across all Olympic related developments."

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