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The role of sport and physical education to promote the SDGs


The role of sport and physical education to promote the SDGs

The recent meeting of world leaders at the United Nations outlined the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) to be adopted by nations worldwide. Suheil F. Tandon of Pro Sport Development outlines why sport and physical education must play an active and vital role in assisting the realisation of these goals.

Sport and physical education (PE) must be considered key tools to be utilised in addressing the recently adopted Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) by the United Nations (UN). Sport and PE have been widely known to cut across various barriers of age, gender, religion, caste, race and nationality – they are truly global tools that have a far and wide reach, which make them feasible in tackling many of the SDGs.

The largest impact of sport and PE would be on good health and well-being (Goal 3), as physical activity has a direct association in promoting physical and mental health and well-being, increasing life expectancy as well as reducing obesity and the risk of non-communicable diseases. Sport can be utilised among all age groups, and must be promoted as a lifelong activity to have a sustained impact. PE must be utilised among the younger populations; the best way to do so would be to incorporate it into primary and secondary education, fitting well with the Quality Education SDG.

Quality Education must incorporate PE as an important part of the curriculum, as outlined by UNESCO’s International Charter for PE and Sport, which allows children to learn lifelong values of respect, friendship, teamwork, fairplay, self-discipline and inclusion.


Sport and PE have also become powerful tools to address the issues of economic and gender equality, particularly to empower females and young girls, by providing them access to sporting opportunities to help them become self-confident, make informed life decisions and access resources.

Moreover, sport and PE are increasingly being used to promote peace and harmony, especially among youth caught amongst conflict, as it promotes the concepts of social cohesion, solidarity and camaraderie. Hence, sport and PE have a vital role to play in the UN’s gender equality, reduced inequalities and peace and justice SDGs.

The UN has already acknowledged the role played by sport in advancing the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) in 2000, and has declared sport as an enabler for the SDGs. I believe it is more than just an enabler, and it is now up to various sport and development stakeholders to implement sport and PE to be at the forefront of achieving various SDG’s, while working together and implementing the final SDG of fostering lasting partnerships to achieve these goals.

[This article has been edited by the Operating Team]


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Suheil F. Tandon


Monday, October 5, 2015 - 23:00