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e-Debate: The MDGs made the S&D sector


e-Debate: The MDGs made the S&D sector

Round one: Jutta Engelhardt argues that the MDGs have contributed to S&D by making individual players aware that they belong to a sector. 

The start of a sector

The proclamation of the MDGs was crucial and caused a change of vision for the development industry. It became standard to measure one’s local successes against the overall global goal, to interpret one’s work as contributing to a global objective. For S&D this lead to the awareness that sport can be considered a horizontal tool for many social problems.

The understanding grew that sport could be used to reach a variety of pre-defined objectives: improved health, social cohesion, access to education and gender equity. Working on a bigger scheme, actors using sport in development started linking to each other, perceiving other S&D actors as allies and making sure that a sectoral identity started to grow.

Several initiatives and organisations had a crucial role in bringing S&D players together, building identity and making the general public aware of the existence of sport and play being used as a development tool on a global scale.

In this regard, the sector pays tribute to those implementing organisations that rolled out global programming and worked hard on visible publicity campaigns; to those grant-making organisations that succeeded in linking athletes to community programmes; to those universities that integrated sport for development into the academic curriculum; and maybe also a bit to as an information, communication and capacity building tool highlighting information on good practice, research, grant-making, job availability and relevant events taking place in the S&D sector.

The proclamation of the MDGs has thus had a significant impact on unifying the S&D sector and on making us aware of the fact that by using sport as a tool, we contribute to global objectives.

Reaching the MDGs
It is my conviction that the setting of global goals is helpful for streamlining ideas, focusing on common goals and measuring success against pre-defined objectives. Capacity and vision building are most important to fundamentally changing mankind’s most pressing problems of reducing poverty and establishing long-standing human solidarity.

However, it is also my conviction that the real work of pushing for human development is done on the ground, in small steps and hard work. It is done by rolling up sleeves, getting involved and striving for the best possible results for and together with the local communities that we work in. Sport is a great tool to get people involved, to strengthen bodies and minds in order to think outside the box, and to anticipate change.

Through using sport and play, beneficiaries not only experience change, but they are made the drivers of that change. Sport and play are the joyful tools that get people laughing, interacting, and – if implemented correctly – acting on social wrongs, economic injustice and inherited beliefs preventing development.

Sport can and will not do it all, but sport can rightfully claim to have contributed to partly reaching the MDGs through hard work on the ground. For the next round of setting and reaching pre-defined goals, we should, however, speak much more with one voice, act much more as a sector and ensure, by getting involved, that the goals to be set as global objectives for the coming 15 years also reflect learning from those that drive development through sport.

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[This article has been edited by the Operating Team]


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Jutta Engelhardt


Thursday, November 7, 2013 - 23:00