In 2019, more than 80 entities pledged to support refugee and host communities through sport in response to a new global framework for refugee response.

The Global Compact on Refugees (GCR) is the new international framework for strengthened cooperation and solidarity with refugees and affected host communities. It specifically recognizes the contribution of sport and sporting entities in the ensuring the protection and well-being of refugees.

The Compact provides a unique opportunity to transform the way the world responds to refugee situations by benefiting both refugees and communities that host them. It sets out to broaden the base of entities engaging in refugee response and become a catalyst for actors from the private sector, faith based organizations, cities, academic institutions and the world of sport, amongst others, to engage.

This is highlighted in the Compact itself. Paragraph 44 specifically recognises “the important role that sports […] can play in social development, inclusion, cohesion, and wellbeing for refugee children (both boys and girls), adolescents and youth, as well as older persons and persons with disabilities”. The Compact highlights that new partnerships will be essential to increase access to sporting activities in refugee-hosting areas.

The Global Refugee Forum

Following the affirmation of the Global Compact by the world’s governments in 2018, the Global Refugee Forum (GRF) was established. The GRF provides states and other actors the opportunity to come together every four years to share good practices and contribute with financial support, technical expertise and policy changes, to help reach the goals of the Global Compact.

The first GRF took place in December 2019, and around 3,000 participants from various countries, international organisations, companies, foundations, civil society organisations, refugee and sport organisations participated. UNHCR and the Olympic Refuge Foundation coordinated activities that highlighted the important role that sport can play as a tool for the protection and development of displaced and stateless young people, and created the space to broaden the base of stakeholders involved in efforts to enable refugees to benefit from the platform that sport provides, including through access to sport and sport related opportunities, at all levels.

GRF Sport Coalition & Pledges

Ahead of the forum, UNHCR, the Olympic Refuge Foundation and the International Olympic Committee convened a coalition of more than 80 entities that pledged to “provide sporting opportunities for young refugees.” Spread across the world, these range from national Olympic committees, international sporting federations and national associations to grassroots organisations and sports clubs working with refugees.

The 80+ organisations released a joint statement and made commitments around three pledges:

  • To promote and ensure access for all refugees, without distinction of any kind, to safe and inclusive sporting facilities
  • To increase availability and access to organised sports and sport-based initiatives for refugee and hosting communities, actively considering age, gender, ability and other diversity needs
  • To promote and facilitate equal access to and participation of refugees in sporting events and competitions at all levels

The pledges will be tracked on the GRF Digital Platform, where stakeholders can share good practices and updates on the progress they are making on the pledges.

If you are interested in joining the coalition, reach out to the UNHCR Sports Team on [email protected] and sportanddev on [email protected]