Oliver Dudfield, Head of Sport for Development and Peace at the Commonwealth Secretariat, addresses the question of how sport can best be used as a tool for sustainable development, and highlights the need for intensified action to protect the integrity of sport.
Transformative sporting ‘events’ usually occur on the field of play. But recent developments well away from any stadium or pitch are challenging the traditional parameters of sport policy. Recognition in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development that sport can be ‘an important enabler of sustainable development’ provides an impetus to examine in more detail the positive contribution sport can make. At the same time, exposure of corruption, abuse and doping in sport has questioned its very integrity. These developments seem diametrically opposed, and in many ways they are. They draw on the best and worst of sport. But there is a common thread: each underscores that sport’s impact extends far beyond what takes place in between the touch lines. Both also call for action from sport and non-sport stakeholders alike.
Recognising the value of sport
In September 2015 the United Nations General Assembly adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Central to this agenda are 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) which, in the resolution adopting the goals, are described as “the bold and transformative step urgently needed to shift the world onto a sustainable and resilient path”. Resolution 70/1 recognises “the growing contribution of sport to the realisation of development and peace in its promotion of tolerance and respect, and the contributions it makes to the empowerment of women and of young people, individuals and communities as well as to health, education and social inclusion objectives.”
Head of Sport for Development and Peace at the Commonwealth Secretariat