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More than just a game: Sport and the Sustainable Development Goals


More than just a game: Sport and the Sustainable Development Goals

The 1st in a series of blog entries this week about the 8th Commonwealth Sports Ministers Meeting

This article was first published on the Commonwealth Secretariat website

Blog by Commonwealth Deputy Secretary-General Deodat Maharaj

All eyes and attention will be on Brazil as the sporting world gathers in Rio for the Olympics and Paralympics for a plethora of sporting events set to deliver incredible performances and amazing memories for fans and spectators. Sadly, the run up has been marred by a number of incidents which have called into question the integrity of sport.

Although these exciting and challenging aspects of sport rightly attract our attention, we must also give full recognition to the positive impact that sport makes at the community level right across the Commonwealth. The role that sport can play in contributing to sustainable development, in areas like health, education, gender equality and economic development, deserves the same amount of attention as the glitz, glamour and scandal of high performance sport.

We, at the Commonwealth Secretariat, are delighted therefore that the Commonwealth has taken the opportunity, in the wings of the of the Olympic Games, to bring together ministers with responsibility for sport in our member governments for a day of discussions centred on sport and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development sets out an ‘ambitious and transformational vision’ for global development. Of particular significance for sports policy-makers is the recognition in the 2030 Agenda that sport can be ‘an important enabler of sustainable development’.

The Commonwealth Secretariat has undertaken comprehensive evidenced-based consultations looking at where sport can make effective contributions to development.

This Commonwealth analysis identifies six Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) where sport can best help drive positive change, these being in health (SDG3), education (SDG4), gender equality (SDG5), economic growth (SDG8), sustainable communities (SDG11), and peace (SDG16), with a recognition that partnerships (SDG17) are a crucial aspect of the means of implementation.

We are working with experts at Durham University to produce guidance on policy options available, to identify how best sport can contribute to sustainable development in Commonwealth member countries.

The impact of these policies could be substantial, for example, evidence suggests that physical inactivity is a contributory factor in a substantial 5.5 million deaths a year. Thus, aligning sport and public health policies may help leverage sport and recreation infrastructure investment that can facilitate population-level increases in physical activity levels. The result? A contribution to a reduction in non-communicable diseases (SDG target 3.4).

[This article has been edited by the Operating Team]


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Malcolm Dingwall-Smith


Tuesday, August 2, 2016 - 23:00