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Protect spaces for sport and promote physical activity, says report on global goals

Copyrights: The Commonwealth

Protect spaces for sport and promote physical activity, says report on global goals

Governments and local authorities that invest in sport can help to reduce spiralling health costs and promote education, social cohesion and gender equality, according to a new report from the Commonwealth.

Protecting green spaces in towns and cities, ring-fencing school budgets for physical education, and empowering women and girls through sport, are among a set of policy prescriptions in the report published on International Day of Sport for Development and Peace.

The Commonwealth Secretariat guidebook, Enhancing the Contribution of Sport to the Sustainable Development Goals, proposes a raft of interventions to help countries achieve global targets in health, education, social inclusivity and gender equality by using sport as a tool.

One of the areas identified where sport can make a big impact is in improving public health. Physical inactivity causes more than three million deaths per year globally, and accounts for between one to four percent of all healthcare costs. But despite the benefits of adopting an active lifestyle, a fifth of men and a quarter of women do not meet World Health Organization minimum guidelines for physical activity, which say adults should do 75 to 150 minutes of exercise a week.

The publication provides a framework for using sport to help achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – a set of global targets agreed by 194 governments at the United Nations in September 2015. The 17 SDGs include targets on health, education, gender equality, economic growth and employment, human settlements, justice and inclusivity.

The Commonwealth Secretariat’s recommendations include:

  • Ring-fencing education budgets for school sports and physical education 
  • Regulating to preserve green spaces in towns and cities for sports and physical activity in towns and cities
  • Funding new sports facilities through private and civil society partnerships
  • Creating small ‘pocket parks’ for dance and informal exercise
  • Ensuring sport facilities are safe and accessible for women and girls
  • Training the sport workforce, including coaches and volunteers, to help people from diverse backgrounds become physically active
  • Developing initiatives to boost sport-based entrepreneurship and enterprise
  • Implementing measures to safeguard all children participating in sport

The report offers a stark warning that the benefits of investing in sport can be eroded if corruption and exploitation in sport is allowed to persist. It recommends that sports organisations are compelled to meet international standards on good governance and child safeguarding as a requirement of receiving any public funds.


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Commonwealth Secretariat


Thursday, April 13, 2017 - 11:56

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