After 15 years of unprecedented progress towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the world has turned its attention to their successor Sustainable Development Goals in the context of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. which has just been adopted. After reviewing achievements and outstanding issues relating to the eight MDGs, the international community, led by the United Nations, consulted extensively with stakeholders from all spheres of society and set 17 goals. of sustainable development to be achieved in the next 15 years. Designed primarily to bring people and the planet closer together and leave no one behind,
Sport has proven to be a cost-effective and flexible tool for promoting peace and development goals. Since the adoption of the MDGs in 2000, it has played a central role in the progress of each of the eight goals, a fact that has been recognized in numerous General Assembly resolutions. In resolution 70/1, entitled “Transforming the world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development”, adopted in 2015, its role in social progress is further recognized:
Sport is also an important element of sustainable development. We appreciate his growing contribution to development and peace through the tolerance and respect he advocates; the empowerment of women and young people, of the individual and of the community; and the achievement of health, education and social inclusion goals.
Harnessing its immense potential, the United Nations Office of Sport for Development and Peace (UNOSDP) has a long history of bringing people together through sport and supporting peace-through-sport initiatives by organizing high-profile sporting events. scope or local activities. These initiatives help the sport harness its ability to achieve global goals.
The regular practice of a sports or physical activity has a beneficial effect on social life and health. Not only does it have a direct impact on physical abilities, but it also helps children and young people make healthy choices, stay active and fight non-communicable diseases. A number of studies by the World Health Organization (WHO) have also highlighted that physical exercise can have a positive effect on mental health and cognitive function. It improves self-esteem and self-confidence and reduces depression and anxiety.
Sport contributes to well-being, regardless of age, gender, ethnicity. It is appreciated by all and its reach has no equivalent. For example, the World Taekwondo Federation established the Taekwondo Humanitarian Foundation to promote the martial art in refugee camps around the world. These initiatives raise public awareness of the situation of young refugees and are in perfect harmony with the Sustainable Development Goals, in particular concerning health (Goal 3: Enable healthy lives and promote well-being for all, any age) .
Physical activity has a significant positive effect on children and young people. Associated with a school curriculum, physical activities and sport are necessary elements for a comprehensive and quality education (Goal 4: Ensure quality education for all, on an equal footing, and promote learning opportunities while throughout life). Sport provides lifelong learning and alternative education for out-of-school children. By practicing a sport or physical activity alongside their studies, students acquire essential skills, including team spirit, fair play, respect for rules and others, cooperation, discipline and tolerance. . These skills are essential for their future participation in group activities and professional life and can stimulate social cohesion with communities and societies. Given the contributions that sport makes to personal and social development, improving access to and participation in it is a primary development goal.
This is why UNOSDP has been running the Youth Leadership Development Program for young people since 2012 to train and empower young leaders from disadvantaged communities on how to use sport as a tool for progress. At the camp organized in February 2016 in Hamburg (Germany) by this Programme, six refugees were invited and integrated into the group, which also underlines the capacity of sport to promote inclusion and to bring people together.
Sport, in its most fundamental form, also encourages the balanced participation of men and women and has the capacity to promote and achieve gender equality (Goal 5: Achieve gender equality and empower all women and the girls). Women and girls can be empowered through sport and physical activity and benefit from the positive impact of sport on health and psychosocial status.
The participation of women and girls also challenges the stereotypes and social roles commonly associated with them. Sport can help them show off their talents and achievements to society by showcasing their skills and abilities, which improves self-esteem and self-confidence. It also provides opportunities for social interaction and friendship, which can increase men’s awareness of gender roles and have a beneficial effect on social and psychological skills.
For example, the Diyar Consortium project, implemented in the State of Palestine, is a good example of the ability of sport to promote gender equality. As part of this project, a sports center has been created to enable women to participate in sports activities, acquire transferable skills as well as professional skills necessary for employment. The greatest example of the success of Diyar Women Sports Unit, established in 2008, is the Football Team, which has become one of the best national football teams in the State of Palestine. In 2011, they won the first-ever Palestinian Women’s Football Championship League. Members of the Football Team are now part of the academy, opened in 2012, and train young girls and pass on their knowledge. Diyar has also established a strong network and partnerships with Palestinian and international organizations, helping to develop the project and ensuring its sustainability. This project has had a beneficial effect not only on women, but on society as a whole.
Through initiatives launched by UNOSDP and its partners, sport contributes to enabling cities and communities to be inclusive (Goal 11: Make cities inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable) . In April 2016, I traveled to Nepal to attend the inauguration of the Table Tennis for NepALL project, which aims to include people with disabilities. This example shows how sport can promote social development by changing perceptions about people with disabilities and giving them the opportunity to participate in physical activity despite their disability. In particular, after the earthquake that devastated Nepal in 2015, sport helped to ensure a return to a normal life and to develop personal efficiency among survivors.
Sport can also be used as a powerful tool to prevent conflict and promote lasting peace, as its universal reach allows it to transcend cultures (Goal 16: Promote peaceful and inclusive societies).
In its contribution to peace, it often provides safe environments at local and community levels in which participants take part in order to achieve common goals and promote common interests, to acquire the values of respect, tolerance and fair play and develop social skills. As a common denominator and shared passion, it can build bridges between communities, regardless of their cultural differences or political divisions. In times of conflict or instability, sports activities can provide participants with a sense of normalcy.
As part of the Youth Leadership Training Program set up in 2013 in Gwangju, Republic of Korea, I saw how sport can be used to promote mutual understanding and dialogue in conflict areas. This Programme, which brought together both the Republic of Korea and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, enabled participants to realize that they had more in common than differences and to dispel the negative images that each of the countries had each other. This essential tool has enabled the two countries to establish social ties that have helped to promote rapprochement, respect, mutual understanding and dialogue.
Building strong and close partnerships is essential to promoting sustainable development and achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. The world is more connected than ever and sport, with its global reach, can connect influential networks of partners and stakeholders to carry their common commitment to sustainable development. In this regard, the world of sport can provide effective networks of partners and stakeholders working to use sport for sustainable development (Goal 17: Revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development).
An excellent example is the cooperation between the United Nations and the International Olympic Committee (IOC), an entity with observer status with the United Nations and a key partner of UNOSDP which has launched several joint initiatives in the field of sport in service of development and peace. For example, the General Assembly adopted several resolutions related to the Olympic Truce. Every four years, the United Nations urges Member States, all warring parties and other stakeholders to observe the Truce during the celebration of the Olympic and Paralympic Games, with the hope that a day of truce can bring about a week of peace, a month of peace and, ultimately, an end to the war. Long associated with the promotion of peace, the Olympic values have therefore become an important part of sport and education. General Assembly resolution 70/4, entitled “Building a peaceful and better world through sport and the Olympic ideal”, was co-sponsored by the 180 Member States of the United Nations and adopted by consensus in 2015. In the resolution, states are asked to observe the Olympic Truce from the seventh day before the opening of the 2016 Olympic Games, which will be held in August in Rio, to the seventh day after the closing of the 2016 Paralympic Games in September.
These Games will be a tremendous source of inspiration and a strong symbol of the union of peoples throughout the world. Brazil will host the Olympic and Paralympic Games for the first time in South America. It will also be the first time that the refugees will be represented by their Olympic team. These two unique features show that sporting events are not fierce competitions, but offer unique opportunities to build a more integrated society and to convey a message of peace, inclusion and respect. Major sporting events can help promote social development, economic growth, health, education and environmental protection,
The sport, however, still faces many challenges to reach its true potential. We have too often observed phenomena of intolerance, racism, hatred and violence during these demonstrations. Sports organizations, managers, athletes and fans must do everything possible to combat these evils and fully harness the positive power of sport. Like many other areas, corruption also affects sport. She kills him and we should not tolerate any wrongdoing, including doping. Our role is to continue to fight abuse and promote good governance, integrity and transparency. We must also work to integrate the Sustainable Development Goals into all sports organisations.
Despite these challenges, the immense positive power and passion of sport will continue to bring people together, to promote a more inclusive and peaceful world through its universal values and principles. Historically, sport has played an important role in all societies and served as a dynamic communication platform that can be used to promote the culture of peace. It is, and continues to be, one of the most effective and versatile tools for promoting United Nations values and achieving the Sustainable Development Goal