Issue of February, 24, 2001
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Accents
World Nature Games Postponed
By Mario Osava

The second-ever World Nature Games (WNG), a combination of sport, environmental education and sustainable development, scheduled to take place every four years in a tourist area of southern Brazil, have been put off until 2002.

RIO DE JANEIRO, (Tierramérica).- The games were set for September this year, but there was a delay in collecting the necessary resources, Edgar Hubner, executive secretary of the organizing committee, told Tierramérica.

Beyond the fact that the new mayors of the 11 municipalities that take part in the games just took office on Jan 1, contracts have not been finalized with commercial sponsors, which are essential now that the project no longer has the government funding it had for the first version of the WNG, in 1997.

The WNG were founded by the government of Paraná state as part of a development project its western border, taking advantage of the Itaipú reservoir, created by the largest hydroelectric dam in the world, located on the Brazil-Paraguay border and shared by the two countries. The reservoir, created in 1982, spreads over 1,350 square kms.

The objective of the games is to transform the area into an ecological tourist attraction for the municipalities near the reservoir, home to more than 440,000 people.

The first WNG, held Sep 25-Oct 5, 1997 and sponsored by the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), involved 13 events, water, air and land sports, which were to be repeated this year - though slightly modified.

Canoeing, sailing and fishing were some of the water events. Parachuting, hot-air ballooning, triathlon, cycling, climbing, golf, archery and equestrian events rounded out the 10-day competition.

Some 800 athletes from around the world competed in the inaugural games, many of whom were Olympic, world or national champions in their events.

The World Nature Games were accompanied by an environmental education program through local schools, and included theater productions and the distribution of thousands of manuals for environmentally friendly development.

* Mario Osava is an IPS correspondent

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