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Scaling-up to maximise the impact of sport and development


Scaling-up to maximise the impact of sport and development

The SDGs aim to achieve development at a macro level - it is important to consider how sport and development must evolve if it is to demonstrate its relevance at this level.

Last week, the United Nations Summit on Sustainable Development formally adopted the post-2015 development agenda, ushering in 17 new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that range from ending poverty to promoting peace. The SDGs outline an ambitious new plan for global development with the aim to ‘transform our world by 2030’. Recognising this critical juncture in global development, the Commonwealth has consulted with a range of experts to explore the contribution sport and development can make to the delivery of these goals.

Is sport and development positioned to contribute?
For the sport and development community the adoption of the post-2015 agenda presents an opportunity to consider what success will look like over the next 15 years. During the Millennium Development Goals era sport and development has grown substantially, primarily through the establishment of grassroots projects, many of which have been innovative and achieved a strong sense of community ownership.

Earlier contributions in this series have highlighted important issues facing the sport and development community related to funding, communications, monitoring and evaluation and sustainability of impact. Scale of impact can be added to this list. Typically sport and development interventions are small scale, project based and impact on selected communities only. The SDGs aim to achieve development at a macro level, with a focus on systemic change. It is pertinent to consider how sport and development must evolve if it is to demonstrate relevance at this level.

What needs to be achieved?
To maximise impact, it is necessary to create sport and development models that can be scaled and translated into national and regional-level policy initiatives. It is also important to consider how sport for development can be further embedded in systems and structures that have wide reach, are embedded in established policy and are sustainable in nature.

This means working towards sport and development being recognised in national policy frameworks and engaging more substantially with those responsible for large-scale systems and structures - governments, development organisations and sports bodies - to mainstream sport-based approaches into their work. Key to this will be developing more sophisticated approaches to monitoring and evaluation that can demonstrate the contribution of sport and development at a national level, referencing established economic and social development indicators.

A challenge will be to scale impact without losing what is best about sport and development at present - community-ownership, innovation, a bottom-up approach, and an ability to engage young people.

The post-2015 agenda recognises ‘different national realities, capacities and levels of development’ and in turn the need to respect national policies and priorities. Accordingly, the time is right to shift sport and development from being considered primarily as a tool within international development cooperation to being viewed as a tool to deliver domestic policy priorities.

The post-2015 agenda has been described as ‘The World We Want’. The adoption of this framework presents both a challenge and an opportunity for the sport and development community. It is time for all voices in the community to be heard in considering ‘what is our place in this world?’ and ‘how can we most effectively contribute to it?’


What does success look like for sport and development in 2030?


Over five newsletters, sportanddev has given you different perspectives on the sport and development sector's role in post-2015 development. Now we want to hear from you. Complete our online form to share your views. Submissions will be published on You can also share your views using #post2015sport on social media.





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Malcolm Dingwall-Smith, Programme Manager – Sport for Development Peace and Oliver Dudfield, Head of Sport for Development and Peace, Commonwealth Secretariat


Tuesday, September 29, 2015 - 23:00