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e-Debate: Joint S&D sector statement required to lobby for sport and play


e-Debate: Joint S&D sector statement required to lobby for sport and play

Round two: Jutta Engelhardt argues that a joint statement can claim space in the post-2015 discussions highlighting that sport and play are catalysts to social development.

Claiming space

If S&D wants to be heard and wants to contribute to the post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the sector needs to speak now and with one voice.

If we try to communicate on multiple levels through multiple messages, we will definitely lose out to sectors that have a much more established lobby, much better networks to reach decision-makers and much clearer messages to highlight. Sectors referred to are those that are well-established like education or health that, despite the multi-faceted message they also want to see reflected in the SDGs, are much better organised and speak with a much more unified voice than the sport and development sector.

Drivers of social change
The conclusion can thus only be that the S&D sector draws up a joint statement that explains how sport lends itself to reach the development challenges of the next 20 years. The statement may in some parts not reflect all opinions of the sector in detail – this is the nature of a broad and overall policy-paper – but will allow the sector to speak with one voice.

In this statement, we need to shed light on the potent players the S&D sector is bringing to driving the future development agenda. We ought to show the sector represents a large network of professional and motivated change makers, researchers, grant-making governmental and non-governmental players, the sporting industry and federations, the media and the general public through their support of social development projects rooted in sport.

Focus of attention
The common statement should concentrate on showing that:

  • Sport and play is an intrinsically positive form of human interaction and thus – if used correctly – represents a catalyst to development
  • Sport can reach the set objectives of access and quality of education
  • Sport can fulfil the preventive and curative aspects of global health care
  • Sport can address the most pressing social issue for young people in the 21st century: youth employment and adequacy of training for and on the job
  • Sport is a learning field for inclusion along gender and ethnic lines
  • Sport can train participants to understand global connectivity and thus strengthen positive impact of personal behaviour on the world community – be it on an environmental level or a level of consumer behaviour undermining global standards of human rights

Steps to take

To feature more prominently in the post-2015 discussion the S&D sector needs to be very pragmatic; it needs to speak up immediately and to remain strong and unified also after the SDGs are announced in 2015. The sector needs to use all available channels and work top-down and bottom-up.

As an example of top-down and bottom-up activities, we would need to:

  • Align ourselves with a statement that represents the community
  • Motivate our donors and grant-makers to be seen as supporting development through sport
  • Place the joint S&D statement with the most powerful spokespersons in the process of defining the new development goals
  • Lobby for the joint message within our own national and international networks
  • Make sure that the Global South is heard explicitly in the process
  • Contribute to the ongoing debate on The World We Want
  • Share our knowledge and stories with people outside the S&D sector to show the relevance of sport as a tool for global human development

All of this has to happen fast. The year 2013 is drawing to a close and the window of opportunity for the S&D sector to speak with one voice and claim the space in the post-2015 discussion is closing quickly. It would be a pity to miss the chance to officially see sport and play listed as a tool to contribute to human development post-2015.

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[This article has been edited by the Operating Team]


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Jutta Engelhardt


Wednesday, November 20, 2013 - 23:00