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Creating new value through innovation

Discussion of people-centred and co-design approaches to delivering goals.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.

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

In this video, Baroness Patricia Scotland, Secretary General of The Commonwealth, highlights the importance of a people-centred approach and active co-design methodologies to design policies and programmes that effectively address social challenges.

Adapting to COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of innovation and adaptation. Many actors have had to change their approach, offering activities online rather than in person, adapting their policies and programmes accordingly. Many people have started exercising from home and there is a need for resources to support communities in staying physically active.

Technology and digitalisation are key to ensuring innovation and accessibility, though we do need to remember there is a digital divide whereby the most marginalised often have more limited access to technology. Furthermore, the pandemic has exacerbated inequities in terms of access and opportunity within sport.


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” UNICEF and the Barcelona Foundation

How can innovative approaches help to address such challenges?

Share your thoughts with others in a comment post.

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Sport for Sustainable Development: Designing Effective Policies and Programmes

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