In 2007, a group of NGOs, governments and sports federations formed the sportanddev Steering Board at the Next Step Conference in Windhoek, Namibia.
The notion of sport as a tool in development grew in the following years. It was recognised in various UN resolutions, including as a means to support the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). More sport and development organisations were born, sport federations became more active in addressing social issues and many governments signed various high-level declarations.
In 2013, the UN announced the annual International Day of Sport for Development and Peace (IDSDP) and in 2015, the UN General Assembly recognised the value of sport in contributing to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs): “Sport is also an important enabler of sustainable development. We recognise the growing contribution of sport to the realisation of development and peace in its promotion of tolerance and respect and the contributions it makes to the empowerment of women and of young people, individuals and communities as well as to health, education and social inclusion objectives.”
Further, in 2022, the UN General Assembly passed a landmark resolution, recognising the role that sport can play in bringing about sustainable development, while also releasing a report on how sport has advanced the SDGs and can contribute to a better, stronger recovery. In the same year, UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, also launched their first-ever sports strategy, recognising that sport can contribute to improved protection and development outcomes for refugees and displaced persons.
sportanddev, along with others, has taken a central role in enabling such milestones and mainstreaming the use of sport in development. It has become the leading knowledge hub, learning resource and communications tool in SDP. It has a network of around 1000 organisations and 10,000 individuals registered on the platform, catering to the public, non-profit and private sectors.
However, despite the rapid progress, the sport and development movement continues to face challenges. The United Nations Office on Sport for Development and Peace (UNOSDP) closed in May 2017, which has led to a vacuum in leadership and reduced coordination in the sector. It has never been more important to demonstrate the value of sport in development. Competition for resources creates challenges for organisations and barriers to wider coordination within an increasingly strained global landscape.
The COVID-19 global pandemic impacted every facet of life as we know it, and the sport for development sector was no different. During the pandemic, sportanddev became a source of community support and advice for the sport for development sector. Building on this, the platform coordinated efforts to reimagine sport for development, and moved towards reshaping the sector in 2022, with a global campaign aiming to champion, strengthen and sustain the sport and development sector.
sportanddev continues to support the sport for development and peace sector, and envisions a future where sport is seen as an essential tool in international development and its effectiveness is further enhanced by the cooperation of actors divided by geography but united by shared values.
Our mission is to be the leading hub for the sport for development community to share knowledge, build good practice, coordinate with others and create partnerships. Our goals are focused around increasing the visibility of sport’s development potential, contributing to improving sport and development practice, and encouraging dialogue, promoting partnership and facilitating strategic alliances in the sector.
By raising the profile of sport in international development, sportanddev has had a major impact over the last 15 years. Its ability to connect diverse actors is unmatched in the field.