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This content is taken from the The International Platform on Sport and Development, Commonwealth Secretariat & Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT)'s online course, Sport for Sustainable Development: Designing Effective Policies and Programmes. Join the course to learn more.

Skip to 0 minutes and 6 seconds Innovation is about delivering more effective and efficient, people centred solutions to social challenges. The idea of intentionally using sport to contribute to positive gains and national development goals is itself innovative. To be really effective in achieving positive impact, policies intending to use sport for development need to accord with the best and most up to date principles of innovation. This means being people centred and designed actively to address social challenges. We apply these principles in the Commonwealth support on sport for development, which we provide to our 54 member countries.

Skip to 0 minutes and 54 seconds Our leaders regularly reaffirm the value of advances in ICT, science and technology, and these open up new horizons of opportunity for progress on our Commonwealth priorities, good governance, economic and social inclusion, and sustainable development. To accelerate adoption of innovations, we now have the Commonwealth innovation hub for sharing imaginative ideas and solutions for driving sustainable development. It relates directly to the Commonwealth connectivity agenda, by which member countries collaborate on using digital solutions in cost effective ways. This is all part of our focus on scaling up innovation, particularly on digital responses and data driven decision making, which are now so vital.

Skip to 1 minute and 46 seconds The Commonwealth is leading international efforts to agree on common indicators and compile global data sets on the contribution of sport to the Sustainable Development Goals. Through our digital initiative, Commonwealth move, countries are able to share ideas and information, on how to encourage people to get active and benefit from community sport and physical exercise. It’s about creating enabling environments which nurture and support the use of sport as a tool for sustainable development, innovatively, appropriately, and at scale. This might include setting up dedicated units and sport funding schemes. It could involve shared use by schools, community groups or sports spaces and facilities. Sport could be used to promote related sectors such as tourism and culture.

Skip to 2 minutes and 49 seconds Sports infrastructure development can be a catalyst to create jobs. Volunteering at sports events can be a way for young people to develop transferable skills. Advocacy campaigns and programmes to encourage participation by women and girls or older people can help tackle marginalisation and boost wider community inclusiveness. Social media, are increasingly important channels for disseminating messages relating to development through sport. This is likely to mean for example, encouraging people who engage with sport digitally, to be participants and contributors as much as consumers. Data driven approaches are central to such engagement, it will be important by 2030 to have comparable national level data on the contribution made by sport to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.

Skip to 3 minutes and 56 seconds This will allow us to move beyond the stage of raising awareness about the potential of sport and on to more substantive and coordinated strategies for development, investment and programme delivery. Alongside this, and equally important, will be to ensure that there are agreed principles governing sport for development, including on matters such as gender, equality and equity, and that the rights of all participants are safeguarded and protected. That is where the convening power of the Commonwealth is proving to be so valuable, and such a dynamic influence for positive development and inclusive progress. Our understanding is that all can give and all can gain.

Creating new value: innovation in sport and development

Innovation is vital for sustainability. Without continual improvement and new ways of approaching sport and development initiatives, the value of interventions will be severely limited.

In this video, Baroness Patricia Scotland, Secretary General of The Commonwealth, highlights a people-centred approach and active co-design methodologies, for policy and programme development, are key to effectively addressing social challenges.

Consider the following observation:

“Research indicates that only 1 in 500 children have access to sport for development programmes globally. Among school-going adolescents, 4 out of every 5 do not engage in level of physical activity to enjoy the potential health and wellbeing benefits”

How could people-centred and co-design approaches offer an alternative strategy for addressing these challenges? Could any other innovations provide useful tools?

Share your thoughts with others in a comment post.

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This video is from the free online course:

Sport for Sustainable Development: Designing Effective Policies and Programmes

The International Platform on Sport and Development