A Focus on Sustainability at the 2018 Winter Olympics


By: Ashley Armstrong, Account Supervisor

The Olympic competition in PyeongChang, South Korea was filled with dazzling displays of strength, endurance, agility and teamwork. Years of practice and training finally culminated when athletes from around the world gathered to demonstrate their abilities and compete for a chance at gold. Another impressive feat, prevalent throughout the Olympic Games and also years in the making, was the focus on environmental sustainability at the Winter Olympics.

As one of the largest global sporting events, the Games have a significant impact on the environment of host cities. In order to offset some of that impact, the PyeongChang Organizing Committee developed its own sustainability management strategy - which included commitments to become the first Olympic Winter Games to receive ISO 20121 certification for the sustainability management system. To maximize sustainability efforts, this year’s Olympic areas were powered by renewable energy and included the 'Carbon Zero Olympic Stadium' to educate visitors on carbon emissions generated by hosting the Olympic Games and strategies to offset carbon emissions.

In addition to their own initiatives, this year’s committee designed the Sustainability Partner Program to increase the sustainability impacts of the Games through collaboration with sponsors. Leading businesses developed and implemented projects that contribute to the overall sustainability of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Games.

  • Coca-Cola, in cooperation with WWF Korea, installed a cofferdam and transplanted trees in the Host region of Daegwallyeong-myeon. These actions protect the region from drying up, increase the moisture content in the soil, provide habitation for local flora and fauna, and promote biodiversity. 
  • Samsung Fire & Marine Insurance partnered with a primary school in Gangneung to create the Dream School Project. This initiative planted a total of 58 trees and 1,410 shrubs creating forests on open lands that can pass down the resources to the future generation after the Games. The school will maintain the forest and teach students about the habitat using school clubs, enhancing students’ environmental awareness in the future.
  • The Korea Land & Housing Corporation, the public enterprise that built the Olympic Village and Media Village, stressed the use of environmentally friendly materials and energy efficiency. Both villages were offered for sale to the public and were sold out by November 2017- providing environmentally-friendly housing for future residents while carrying on the Game’s legacy in Korea.

These strategic partnerships are vital to finding innovative solutions that address environmental issues such as climate change, which pose a huge threat to the future of winter sports where athletes depend not only on snow, but also clean air to compete. Fortunately, stakeholders of major sporting events including organizers, sponsors, non-profits and host governments continue to advance efforts to embed sustainability in all aspects of planning and staging.