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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.
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The agenda 2030 for sustainable development describes the sport as a very important enabler of sustainable development and peace. You know, it recognises the growing contribution of sport in promoting tolerance and respect in empowering women and young people,persons with disabilities, indigenous peoples, and in general individuals of any age and communities with the aim of leaving no country and no one behind. And one framework of this sector is also because an action plan which defines a sport as comprising sport for all, physical play, recreation, dance, organised, casual, competitive, traditional, and indigenous sports and games in their diverse forms.
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Sport is a fundamental field of intervention for governments to achieve achieve the full potential of physical activity for personal and social, economic and environmental development. And this type of recognition offers a compelling incentive and then unmissable opportunity for joint efforts and action in the field of sport for development and peace. So 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 in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.
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See, sport interventions have taken place through a variety of strategic alliances, partnerships and programmes by institutions including community based organisations and sport federation’s, national governments, academic institutions, transnational organisations, international development agencies, and of course the private sector and all of these stakeholders are supportive of the idea, the sport policy’s unique attributes that allow it to advance the specific goals including, of course, the Sustainable Development Goals. Now another opportunity offered by sport is that it is a valuable tool for fostering communication and building bridges between communities and the generations. Through sport, various social groups are able to play a more central role towards social transformation and development particularly in divided societies. So let us take an example the present COVID-19 pandemic.
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major sporting organisations have shown their solidarity with efforts to reduce the spread of the virus for example, FIFA has teamed up with the World Health Organisation and they have launched a pass the message, kick out Coronavirus campaign, led by very well known football players in 13 languages, calling on people to follow the five key steps to stop the spread of the disease. Let me mention a few other challenges that existed pre pandemic, such as the lack of awareness about the social role of sport, which may lead to insufficient support to sport initiatives. And now this pandemic is really exacerbating these pre existing situations.
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Though progress has been made in somehow overcoming prejudices and exclusion of women and girls from sport, still, differences exist. Just look at the salaries for women and girls in sport activities. They are not the same applied to male athletes. And if we look also at sport people or athletes with disabilities, who they definitely suffer from a double, triple discrimination not only due to cultural barriers, but also because of Architectural barriers that preclude access and inclusion to anything related to sport and physical activities in general. However, if we unite, we can make it.

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.“

Accountability

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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