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How can sport contribute to SDGs?

Many different hierarchies and organisations are involved in sport, so articulating responsibilities is crucial to ensure collective impact.

Daniela Bas, Director of the Division for Inclusive Social Development at the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, explains how through collective and aligned effort, sport can contribute to the SDGs and other priorities:

“With this aspiration of ‘leaving no one behind’ and maximising the contribution of sport for a better and peaceful world, sport can really contribute in a very important manner to achieving the SDGs…Through sport, various social groups are able to play a more central role towards social transformation and development particularly in divided societies. For example, during the present COVID-19 pandemic, major sporting organisations have shown their solidarity with efforts to reduce the spread of the virus.“


All stakeholders, including governments, need to be held to account for implementation. Many different hierarchies and organisations are involved in sport for development and SDG implementation. Articulating roles and responsibilities is crucial to ensure collective impact.

One way to hold stakeholders accountable is through performance (or other) agreements. Some countries have adopted public service agreements to guide the implementation of the SDGs and other priorities – as you may have seen when researching national SDG plans and policies.

A systematic effort

A multidimensional approach is required to achieve bold goals such as the SDGs. Although there is not a universal formula for success, the following four systems can improve the performance of many organisations:

  • A performance information system – the ability to communicate useful and timely information to stakeholders.
  • A performance monitoring system – a system that allows responsible managers or people to manage the journey towards the desired results.
  • A performance evaluation system – a system that allows stakeholders to convert or distil information into a format that assesses progress (e.g. a traffic light system with a red-amber-green rating for the current status).
  • A performance incentive system – people need to know why change is necessary and in their interests. You need to take people with you on the implementation journey.

Why are these systems so important? What is your experience of working with such systems? 

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Sport for Sustainable Development: Designing Effective Policies and Programmes

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