Moving forward

Copyrights: Fanny Schertzer / CC BY-SA 3.0

Moving forward

This section provides guidance and resources for actors to measure the contribution of their sport policies and programmes to the SDGs.

A broad range of actors have articulated the need to ensure common and consistent measurement of sport’s contribution to the sustainable development goals (SDGs) and other international, regional, national and local development priorities. These include intergovernmental agencies, national governments, sport federations and structures, civil society actors (including NGOs), organisations in the sport for development and peace (SDP) sector, as well as actors from the broader development field.

The SDGs require united action and consistent measurement, providing an opportunity to better articulate the contributions of sport, physical activity and physical education (PE) to the SDGs and other priorities. This is relevant not only at the policy level, but also for programmes and projects on the ground.

How do projects, programmes, plans and policies fit together?

It is important to understand the relationship between policies, plans, programmes and projects. 

Policy refers broadly to a set of plans and actions designed to address an issue or achieve specific outcomes. Policy may influence regulations and legislation at various levels, as well as the allocation of resources, roles and responsibilities. Policies set a blueprint, framework or guiding principles for plans, projects and programmes. Policies seek to achieve long-term impact, linked to outputs and outcomes of plans, programmes and projects. 

A plan details a course of action, with specific goals, strategies, timelines, and arrangements. A project is usually more short-term and seeks to deliver outputs within time, cost and quality parameters. A programme is broader and may encompass multiple projects in order to produce mid-term outcomes. Plans, projects and programmes are often influenced by higher level policies, whether these be at an international, national, local or organisational and institutional level.

For example, a sport body may have a policy around safeguarding of participants. This policy may be aligned to international standards and best practices though would ideally be adapted to its context. In response to this policy, the sport body may devise a plan on how to ensure safeguarding in its work, leading to a dedicated safeguarding programme. This programme may encompass multiple projects – e.g. there could be a project on child protection and another on safeguarding training for coaches.

How is this relevant to me and my organisation?

It is important to align your work to broader policies and plans, including at global, regional and national level. Many programmes and projects are already aligned to the SDGs and other policies, even if this is not always deliberately done or articulated. There are a number of reasons to align your work to the SDGs and other policy priorities:

  • It may make fundraising easier: governments often fund work that follows national priorities and many donors expect alignment with the SDGs
  • It may make advocacy easier by opening doors to influential people and/or organisations and membership of various networks
  • You can contribute to achieving broader goals that go beyond the impact of only your organisation or project
  • Policies generally focus on the topics that are most important in a particular context so alignment ensures your work is addressing an identified need
  • You will likely have access to a greater choice of potential partner organisations
  • More research is done on topics that are policy priorities, which means you can benefit from that knowledge and improve the quality of your work

Click here to see case studies of organisations using sport to contribute to the SDGs

How can I use this in my work?

You can use the guidance and resources provided in this section to develop or strengthen your means of measuring your specific policy, programme or project. We outline a few actions below.

Firstly, it is important to understand the policy context which is most relevant to your organisation. This includes overarching policies such as the SDGs and Kazan Action Plan, but it may also include regional or national policies related to sport and the topic your organisation seeks to address. For example, an organisation using sport to prevent HIV in South Africa may be guided by global policies, including the SDGs, Kazan Action Plan and UNAIDS guidance, policies from the African Union and Southern African Development Community (SADC), and national policies in South Africa.

Actors can align to these policies and plans, including considering how to measure their contributions (if any) to them. The following steps provide guidance in developing and implementing a framework to measure the contributions of sport to the SDGs and other priorities.

Build a common understanding of the role of sports in development 
  • Research how sport policy areas overlap with relevant development priorities
  • Formulate a sport policy or strategy reflecting relevant development priorities 
  • Channel policy and strategic objectives into an implementation framework and plan 
  • Develop a coherent M&E framework 
  • Collect data and co-ordinate analysis and reporting 
  • Formulate a learning and knowledge dissemination approach

Related to these steps, it is important to develop your own results-based management framework and theory of change for your project – this is a crucial component of any M&E framework and system. 

Actors can draw on the work underway in the model indicators project, which has developed a set of model indicators to measure the contribution of sport to the SDGs. These indicators cover all 10 SDGs identified in the Kazan Action Plan as areas where sport, PE and physical activity can contribute most effectively. 

Why is this important?

Improving capacity to measure and evaluate the contribution of sport, physical education and physical activity to the SDGs will be key in ensuring the potential impact of these sectors is fully realised and investment is increased. Improved and more consistent data will support M&E efforts and will provide governments, sporting organisations and the private sector with better information on how, where and why to invest to maximise the contribution of sport to broader development goals.

Who is involved in the model indicators project?

This project is open to all actors in sport and development who may be able to use learnings from the project to strengthen their own work and measurement processes. For this reason, the project provides guidance on how to use the model indicators with an accompanying toolkit and framework.

Consultation and collaboration have been at the heart of the initiative, and an open-ended working group (OEWG) has been established to support it. The first OEWG took place in September 2018 in London, with the second OEWG in Geneva in November 2019. A large number of actors have been consulted during the development of the toolkit and model indicators. These include government ministries and public bodies, intergovernmental agencies (including the United Nations), sporting structures (including federations, associations and Olympic Committees), civil society organisations and academic institutions.

The project is led and coordinated by a global group of actors, including the Commonwealth Secretariat, UN agencies, governments and sector experts. A high-level Steering Group has been formed of members who have committed to using the measurement framework or contributing to its development. The members are: 

  • Sport Canada 
  • The International Paralympic Committee
  • The Japan Sport Council
  • Jamaica’s Ministry of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport
  • The United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA)
  • The UNESCO Chair (Tralee)
  • Swinburne University of Technology 
  • The Commonwealth Youth SDP Network 

Each Steering Group member has committed to investing resources to the further development of the project.
For further information on the project please contact the Commonwealth Secretariat at:

Additional Resources

Additional links and information are listed below for further detail on the relevant topics.

The Sustainable Development Goals

UNESCO Charter of Physical Education and Sport

United Nations Declarations and Resolutions

Continental policy frameworks

Commonwealth Advisory Body on Sport (CABOS)

Magglingen Conferences

International Conference of Ministers and Senior Officials Responsible for Physical Education and Sport (MINEPS)

Policy documents from sports federations


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