• The International Platform on Sport and Development logo
  • The Commonwealth logo
  • Australian Aid logo

Sport for Sustainable Development: Designing Effective Policies and Programmes

Explore the ways in which sport can actively contribute to the Sustainable Development Goals and other objectives.

6,561 enrolled on this course

Girls connected in circle, linking arms around each others shoulders
  • Duration

    4 weeks
  • Weekly study

    5 hours

Learn how to make a positive impact in and through sport

This course is now available in French and Arabic

Sport has been recognised as an enabler of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in the 2030 Agenda. Organisations worldwide are using sport to contribute to the SDGs and other goals, addressing issues ranging from health and education to employment, and conflict resolution.

On this course, you will look at the benefits and limitations of using sport in development. You will learn to design, implement, and measure the impact of sport-based policies and programmes using best practices.

You will explore key concepts on sport and gender equality, disability, human rights, social inclusion, peacebuilding, good governance and safeguarding.


  • Week 1

    Setting the scene: sport, development and change

    • Introducing week 1

      Starting our journey into sport, development and change. Image: A Masai Warrior playing cricket, promoting awareness of social issues and community through sport © Amunga Esuchi on behalf of The Commonwealth CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

    • Sport for change

      How sport can make an impact. Image: UN Mission Co-sponsors "Sports Day for Peace" in Haitian Capital © UN Photo/Logan Abassi CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

    • Sport and sustainable development goals

      How sport is linked to sustainable development goals.

    • Approaching change

      How do we approach change, where do we start and what do we need to consider. Image: Kids playing soccer in the afternoon at Pahang Malaysia © The Commonwealth CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

    • End of week 1

      Create your theory of change based on what we have learned in this first week. We also summarise the week and look ahead. Image: Children playing during an outdoor class of SAD’s Move 4 New Horizons project © sportanddev

  • Week 2

    Creating change: strategy, policy and governance

    • Introducing week 2

      Introducing the second week of the course in which we consider the role of strategy, policy and governance in delivering change through sport. Image: Demonstrating balance at the AeroGym Fiji showcase © Henry Stephens

    • Making good policy

      We explore key components of good policy. Image: The Smash Down Barriers table tennis program in Fiji © Aaron Kearney - Australian Broadcasting Corporation

    • Strategy and policy implementation

      How to plan for and implement change effectively and coherently. Image: South Sudan youth use sports to build lasting peace © UMISS CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

    • Human rights and inclusion

      A human rights based and inclusive approach. Image: Participants at an inclusive program run by badminton and gymnastics federations in Papua New Guinea © Joanna Lester Pacific Sports Partnerships

    • Situation analysis & end of week 2

      Developing your situational analysis and reconsidering change. Image: Idrettens fredskorps, Youth Sport Exchange Program © Caroline Dokken Wendelborg - NIF CC BY-SA 2.0

  • Week 3

    Making it happen, making it work, measuring impact

    • Introducing week 3

      Developing and managing programmes using sport for development. Image: Girls during training with Boxgirls in the slums of Nairobi, Kenya © sportanddev

    • Planning

      Exploring the planning process and cycle. Image: Agenda 2030 for Sustainable development in Africa © Lei Phyu CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

    • Monitoring and evaluation

      How can we effectively monitor and evaluate our work? Image: Mafikizolo raised a flag to represent SDG 8, Decent Work and Economic Growth, at Constitution Hill in Johannesburg, South Africa. © Nicki Priem

    • Sport: Benefits, risks and limitations

      We explore the benefits and risks of using sport in development. Image: An instructor from the Malolo Swim Club in Tonga engages with participants © Aaron Kearney - Australian Broadcasting Corporation International Development

    • End of week 3

      Summarising week 3 and looking ahead. Image WFP officer Nimdoma Sherpa, raised a flag to represent Goal 2, Zero Hunger, in a remote mountain village in North-West Nepal © WFP/Samir Jung Thapa

  • Week 4

    Mobilising people, partners and resources

    • Introducing week 4

      How can you advocate for a project. Image: Women Deliver: Road to Copenhagen 2016: Making SDGs Matter Most for Women and Girls © UN Women CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

    • Elevator pitch activity

      Present your own pitch. Image: Participant speaking out, part of the “Women on the Move” project for women in South Sudan, who are suffering from the effects of war, displacement and violence. © SAD and SSPP

    • Making decisions

      Using the right evidence to make decisions. Image: A female teenage rugby union referee in Fiji is breaking new ground © Aaron Kearney - Australian Broadcasting Corporation International Development

    • Final assignment

      A final peer review task: submit an executive summary or logic model for review. Image: A participant sets sail for the try line at a rugby league inclusive day in Papua New Guinea © Aaron Kearney

    • End of week 4

      Summarising the course. What will you do next? Image: 'Sports together for a united country' United Nations Mission in South Sudan © UNMISS CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

When would you like to start?

Start straight away and join a global classroom of learners. If the course hasn’t started yet you’ll see the future date listed below.

Learning on this course

On every step of the course you can meet other learners, share your ideas and join in with active discussions in the comments.

What will you achieve?

By the end of the course, you‘ll be able to...

  • Apply best practice methods to align sport and development objectives to national and international development priorities
  • Demonstrate and articulate the contribution of sport to sustainable development and use analysis and evidence in developing policy and programmes
  • Develop theories of change and programme logic on the contribution of sport to sustainable development in your country or organisation
  • Engage with peers to develop autonomy, accountability and respect for working with others within a sport and development context

Who is the course for?

This course is for anyone interested in how sport can be used in development and how to effectively use sport to enable change.

This includes government officials, intergovernmental officers, sport bodies, public policy experts, private sector professionals, civil society actors including NGOs, practitioners, academics, students and volunteers.

Who will you learn with?

A Sport for Development specialist working in Asia-Pacific, on Team Up, the Australian Government's flagship sport for development investment.

Dr Ben Sanders is a specialist consultant and thought leader in sport for development and peace. He is currently working with the International Platform on Sport and Development.

Sport for Development & Peace expert actively contributing to the Commonwealth’s work in helping countries mobilise sport as an enabler for health, education, employment & economic development goals.

Who developed the course?

The International Platform on Sport and Development

Sportanddev is the leading hub for organisations and individuals using sport for development to share knowledge, build good practice, coordinate with others and create partnerships.

Commonwealth Secretariat

Commonwealth Secretariat supports member countries to achieve development, democracy and peace. The Secretariat’s work helps to grow economies and boost trade, empower young people, and address threats such as climate change, debt and inequality.

Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT)

The Australian Government supports sport for development and sports diplomacy programs that strengthen international connections, build safer communities, and facilitate the participation of women, girls and people with disability.

Learning on FutureLearn

Your learning, your rules

  • Courses are split into weeks, activities, and steps to help you keep track of your learning
  • Learn through a mix of bite-sized videos, long- and short-form articles, audio, and practical activities
  • Stay motivated by using the Progress page to keep track of your step completion and assessment scores

Join a global classroom

  • Experience the power of social learning, and get inspired by an international network of learners
  • Share ideas with your peers and course educators on every step of the course
  • Join the conversation by reading, @ing, liking, bookmarking, and replying to comments from others

Map your progress

  • As you work through the course, use notifications and the Progress page to guide your learning
  • Whenever you’re ready, mark each step as complete, you’re in control
  • Complete 90% of course steps and all of the assessments to earn your certificate

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