Blog: The Kazan Action Plan – An overhaul of sports policy tactics
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To maximise the impact of sport at community level, new tactics are needed that mainstream sports policy into national development plans. The recently adopted Kazan Action Plan provides a game plan for governments to do this, writes Oliver Dudfield, Head of Sport for Development and Peace at the Commonwealth Secretariat.

In July this year, the 6th International Conference of Ministers Responsible for Sport and Physical Education (MINEPS VI) adopted the Kazan Action Plan. To use sporting terminology, this plan is not the usual small ‘tactical tweak’ in policy direction that often comes out of intergovernmental meetings. It represents a significant change in the direction of sports policy.

The new tactics are more expansive, promoting sport in the context of the broader policy agenda for sustainable development and maximising the economic, social and environmental development returns of investing in sport.

The Kazan Action Plan articulates this tactical overhaul through its alignment to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

For many years, the Commonwealth has been a vocal advocate of the need to align sports policy to broader development agendas. Last year’s 8th Commonwealth Sports Ministers Meeting committed “to align sports architecture, and sport-based policy and strategy, to the Sustainable Development Goal framework”. Analysis and guidelines produced by the Commonwealth Secretariat on sport and the SDGs have provided an impetus for this commitment.

The Commonwealth Secretariat’s policy work on sport and the SDGs, along with contributions from other experts and stakeholders, helped to frame the key component of the Kazan Action Plan, the MINEPS Sports Policy Follow-up Framework. This framework now provides a valuable tool to help countries to ‘change tactics’ and align sports policy to national development action plans and the SDGs.

The Commonwealth Secretariat is already using this approach to support the technical assistance we provide to member governments in strengthening sports policy and strategy. This is already making a difference in Mauritius, Botswana and Zambia, to name just a few countries.

This sector-wide change in tactics has been gaining momentum with many government partners and other stakeholders intentionally using sport to deliver non-sport development outcomes. The International Platform on Sport and Development provides an insight into the breadth of sport, civil society and academic institutions involved in this area and is a valuable resource for policy-makers and practitioners seeking further information and resources.

The growing engagement of the research community has also been especially influential. The critical lens of academia provides an important counterweight to ill-informed advocacy of the impact of sport. It can also provide a vital evidence base and resource for decision-makers to enable effective planning and delivery. The Journal of Sport and Development is a useful starting point to access this growing body of research.

To date, the interest in sport among government and ‘mainstream’ development organisations has not matched that of sporting organisations, civil society and academia. While this is shifting, as evidenced by recognition of sport as an ‘enabler of sustainable development’ in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, issues of scale, impact and governance are important to consider.


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