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Forming alliances to maintain sports for development in the UN System

Copyrights: Gabriel Tito Tabona

Forming alliances to maintain sports for development in the UN System

What can sports entities do to guarantee a platform for youth to engage with the United Nations?

The reported closure of UNOSDP occasioned by a decision to form a direct partnership between the United Nations and the International Olympic committee has been met with a lot of criticism not only from the sport for development community, but from different sectors which have benefited from it.

The agency was considered an important entry point to the UN System for youth through its Youth Leadership camp effort that brought young people from around the globe to share experiences, give insights about their different cultures and demystify myths associated with their respective countries.

But can sports entities, whether they are governing bodies, non-profit-making or corporate, offer alternatives to ensure that youths are provided a platform to engage with the United Nations?

The major worry is that the absence of the agency will run the risk of plunging an already disenfranchised demographic into different social and economic crises detrimental to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals. With the influence that global firms like Nike, Adidas and Puma hold through their social responsibility programmes, they can team up with international federations, confederations and football associations to develop programmes which provide opportunities for youth to be co-opted in the UN System. A third and powerful force that can put pressure on Thomas Bach and Antonio Guterres in the continuity of youth involvement in the UN are sport for development organisations. With the various thematic issues that they strive to address at the grassroots level every day, their inputs cannot be ignored.

Popular sports athletes should be at the forefront to build pressure, since the UN will always need to use their influence to achieve their policy goals. Athletes signed up as goodwill ambassadors in various agencies such as UNICEF can be of assistance.

The four-pronged alliance – sports companies, federations, sports for development entities and athletes –will therefore be crucial in pressuring the UN to provide alternative entry points to the UN System so that youth can continue to shape policy decisions that are consistent with the realities on the ground.

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Monday, May 22, 2017 - 12:47