When, in 2013, the United Nations General Assembly agreed to establish an International Day of Sport for Development and Peace, it provided global recognition for the sport and development community and its hard work. Now in its second year, it is important that the day does more than allow internal communication between the sector’s members and that the opportunity to advocate among decision makers is taken.
What is advocacy?
Advocacy is a set of actions to create support and momentum behind a policy or chosen pathway and influence change in a concrete way. It can be implemented on local, regional and international levels, targeting anyone with decision making power, from the United Nations and international politicians to local and community leaders. UNICEF defines advocacy as:
“the continuous and adaptive process of gathering, organising and formulating information and data into argument, which is then communicated to policy-makers through various interpersonal and mass media communication.”
Advocacy and the IDSDP
The IDSDP should be used to advocate for the wider use of sport in development and for greater allocation of resources to sport as a tool for social change. Examples of actions include forming a coalition of NGOs to lobby a politician or community leader; sending a petition to the media or local government; engaging in lobbying or organising a campaign to gain public support for your sport and play based project or programme. Whatever your advocacy activity, here are some tips to help ensure it is organised effectively:
- Network: Acting in collaboration with other organisations or individuals adds strength to your voice
- Contact those with influence: The most influential players in the sector (e.g. local teachers, youth leaders and sports federations) should be encouraged to use their power to influence governments and the wider UN system
- Focus on image: Activities should show the media and public that the sport and development sector is both a unified force and part of the wider NGO community
- Don’t forget your objectives: Sport is the tool, but whether working in peacebuilding, youth development or education, the IDSDP is an opportunity to advocate for the outcomes sport creates and not just the sport itself
- Plan early: Steps such as informing the press, networking with partners and organising specific advocacy activities all take time and care – successful advocacy means meticulous organisation to make sure you are prepared before 6 April comes around.
Last year there were many events focusing on raising awareness and the promotion of sport and its benefits, but a limited amount of activity to specifically influence policy change. The second IDSDP allows the sector to take its activities one step further and it will be exciting to see how it develops and builds on the momentum gained from last year.
If you are organising an activity – whether focusing on advocacy or something else – please email [email protected] and highlight your participation to the sport and development community.