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Enhancing SDP sector governance for more effective outcomes

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Enhancing SDP sector governance for more effective outcomes

The closure of the United Nations Office on Sport for Development and Peace (UNOSDP) offers a unique opportunity for an honest assessment of how the governance structure of the Sport for Development and Peace (SDP) sector performed over the past 15 years or so. 

The UNOSDP was undoubtedly successful in promoting the merits of SDP and cementing the status of sports as a positive force for social change at the highest levels. However, in doing so, efforts were typically concentrated on exchanging with governmental counterparts while perhaps not engaging other SDP actors with the same level of energy. Below are three suggested principles at the heart of a possible revamped SDP governance model. 

While the crucial role of catalyst and convener played by UNOSDP needs to be carried on, it is fundamental that the new ‘forum’ put in place embraces a wider array of stakeholders, especially civil society and practitioners, to better reflect the needs and concerns of those they work with/for, i.e. the beneficiaries on the ground. This strengthened focus on beneficiaries and practitioners and the implementation of a ‘bottom-up’ approach in the design of SDP policies is the first principle for an enhanced SDP architecture. 

A second principle is to reaffirm the centrality of the UN in leading SDP efforts as part of a global agenda.. The UNOSDP did not sufficiently work towards forging fruitful linkages with possibly complementary peacebuilding and conflict prevention/resolution initiatives. In the new structure, it is suggested that, at the strategic and operational levels, SDP efforts be conducted whenever appropriate in collaboration with peacebuilding initiatives also present on the ground for maximised synergies. Overall, it is a welcome development that the SDP leadership role be given to the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) as it will naturally link up SDP efforts to the advancement of the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals for which DESA serves as the central UN coordinating body.

The last principle touches upon the need for a streamlined structure with monitoring tools for a greater impact. The new executive board of the Global Forum on SDP (tentative name of the new annual forum) will have representatives from key donors, INGOs as well as local NGOs. The SDP International Working Group (IWG) will be maintained with staff seconded from the entities sitting on the executive board, and regional chapters will be reinforced to channel up voices from the field more forcibly. It is suggested that the secretariat be moved away from Geneva to a new destination to precisely embody this new momentum (Scandinavia perhaps?). To the extent possible, it will be key to make use of existing structures (DESA, SDP IWG etc.) as opposed to creating new ones. Finally, it is crucial that monitoring and evaluation be systematically introduced in all aspects of planning and work processes, including through for instance a ‘periodic review system’ like the existing Universal Periodic Review (UPR) that assesses the human rights records of all UN Member States.

Arnaud Amouroux, 9 June 2017 

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are solely those of the author.



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Friday, June 16, 2017 - 17:32