Girls line up during a basketball drill in Mogadishu, Somalia. UN Photo/Tobin Jones
On the second annual International Day of Sport for Development and Peace today, top United Nations officials stressed the important role that sport can play in achieving sustainable progress and change.
“Sport has the power to help develop the potential of individuals, communities and nations,” said UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. “On this International Day, let us pledge to strengthen the role that sport plays in communities around the world. We need to have everyone on the team.”
Mr. Ban described the role sport plays in encouraging personal growth, eliminating gender barriers and building bridges across lines that might otherwise divide. He added that sport helps to create cultures where fundamental values such as equality, the acceptance of rules, mutual respect and fairness are appreciated.
“It helps the more vulnerable groups in society, especially young people and persons with disabilities, to enjoy their human rights, including safe opportunities to engage in physical education programmes and sporting activities,” he said. “This contributes to their inclusion in society and increases their motivation to attend school.”
He underlined the role that the sporting industry can play in promoting environmental awareness and sustainable practices and commended athletes across the world for supporting United Nations efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goals. He also looked ahead to the new development agenda, saying he would continue looking to sportsmen and women to be advocates for building a better world for all.
“Sport has established itself as an effective tool for development and peacebuilding,” said Wilfried Lemke, the United Nations Secretary-General's Special Adviser on Sport for Development and Peace. “As we are moving to a new set of sustainable development goals for the post-2015 development agenda, we have to make sure that sport keeps playing its beneficial role in it.”
Mr. Lemke, who works for the Secretary-General as an advocate, facilitator and representative of sport's social impact in a development context said the Day's tagline – 'United action towards sustainable development for all through sport' – targets sustainable for all, which is “the main goal,” and partnerships, which he said were “the foundation” of the Office's work.
“It has been through systematic cooperation that we have been able to make sport and physical activity accessible and inclusive to millions of people of all ages and abilities worldwide,” he said. “Let us work together to make the most use of the great potential that sport has for advancing positive social change all over the world.”
He encouraged stakeholders of all varieties to continue joining efforts to firmly place sport in policies and programmes relating to education, health, development and peace consolidation and called for celebration of the International Day by hosting activities around the world that commemorate the accomplishments of sport in improving the lives of many people all over the world.
The International Day was established to raise awareness of the ideal position sport has to contribute towards the United Nations' objectives for development and peace and adoption of that Day signifies the increasing recognition by the United Nations of the positive influence that sport can have on the advancement of human rights, and social and economic development.
As part of this year's efforts to publicise the Day and to celebrate sport's role in driving social change included a video contest calling on all organisations and projects active in the sport for development field to share their stories on film of how they are using sport to make an impact in their communities. The 10 best videos were chosen and will feature on various UNOSDP media platforms and at selected events throughout the year.