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Committing to change

Copyrights: United Purpose

Committing to change

100 days on, Wilton Park delivers action on scaling up sport’s contribution to the SDGs.

Wilton Park, an international forum based in a stately home in rural southern England, was the setting for a summit of Sport for Development and Peace (SDP) experts and other interested parties in July. As well as coming from across the UK, invited delegates came from as far as Malawi, Jamaica, Chile and South Africa.

Delegates tackled the question: "How can we scale up sport’s contribution to the SDGs?", focusing particularly on SDG5 (gender equality) and SDG16 (peace, justice and strong institutions). Experts included UN representatives (UNDESA, UNICEF), governments and governmental bodies (the Commonwealth Secretariat, representatives from the Jamaican and Lesotho governments), sports bodies (IOC, Premier League Charitable Fund), SDP delivery organisations and researchers. Experience was shared from a wide range of projects, including:

  • Work with refugees and asylum-seekers in Uganda (Real Medicine Foundation)
  • Addressing gender-based violence and early marriage in Malawi (British Council)
  • Sport and peace-building in Jamaica and Jordan (Generations for Peace)

Given the amount of SDP expertise at the event, it wasn’t surprising that there was consensus that sport does contribute to tackling gender inequality, and to building peace and justice in society. A more challenging question was, "given our experience, what are appropriate and sustainable ways to take this to scale?" To this end, delegates discussed the inclusion of SDP into government policies and the mainstreaming of SDP into the wider work of international development NGOs. To support this, delegates recognised the need to strengthen the SDP sector through closer collaboration between SDP actors and to build the case for sport by improving the evidence and narrative about the impact of sport.

From talk to action – what have we achieved?

While many fine-sounding words are often pronounced in such gatherings, at this summit the focus was also on delivering action. Wilton Park delegates were asked to commit to action on the last day of the event based on what they had learnt or connections they had made. 1 November marks 100 days since the end of the event – what have delegates achieved since then? Some of the delegates have reported back:Click image to enlarge, copyrights: Steve Harknett

It appears clear that through fostering exchange and learning, the Wilton Park event succeeded in acting as a catalyst for far wider efforts beyond the invited delegates, in scaling up and mainstreaming of SDP.

Thanks to Wilton Park, United Purpose, Laureus Sport for Good Foundation, and Comic Relief for making this event possible.


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Steve Harknett


Monday, November 4, 2019 - 11:41