UN and sports federations team up to score for development

UN Special Adviser on Sport for Development and Peace Wilfried Lemke

30 April 2010 – Sports organizations can boost their efforts to alleviate poverty and promote global peace and show they care about more than just results on the field, a United Nations official said today as he launched a partnership between the UN and sports bodies to help achieve the social and economic targets known as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

“Traditionally, sports federations focus on the success of their events and championships. However, sport is more than gold medals and records,” said Wilfried Lemke, the Secretary-General’s Special Adviser on Sport for Development and Peace.

“We need partnership between the world of sport and United Nations to harness the full potential that sport has to be an agent for social change,” Mr. Lemke told a gathering in Dubai where he launched a five-year partnership between the United Nations and SportAccord, the umbrella organization grouping 104 international sports federations and organizations.

Under the partnership, the UN Office on Sport for Development and Peace and SportAccord will work together this year to come up with a strategy that will expedite the achievement of selected MDG targets.

In 2000 world leaders agreed at a special summit to try to attain the MDGs – which include targets for slashing poverty and maternal mortality and increasing basic education – by 2015

Former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, who was in Dubai to attend the SportAccord convention, urged the international community to increase efforts to use sport as a tool to fight poverty, heal divisions and protect the planet.

"Sport promotes social integration, overcoming prejudices of race, background and gender; yet it is sadly not yet the case that racism has been rooted out of sport. Sport is also proving important in breaking down gender barriers, and providing role models for empowering women and girls,” said Mr. Annan. “We have also seen how sport helps people look anew at those with disabilities and provides a valuable route for integration,” he added.

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