Following are UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina J. Mohammed’s remarks, as prepared for delivery, at the High-Level Exhibition on Harnessing the Power of Sport in Achieving Sustainable Development, in New York today:
I am pleased to be with you. Throughout the international community, the real and potential contribution of sport to achieving sustainable development are clearly recognized. Sport is a source of empowerment and inclusion, and promotes individual well-being. It promotes team-building and team spirit and collective responsibility. It is a source of solidarity and respect among competitors.
The impact of sport on young people’s lives is particularly meaningful, with a positive impact on educational attainment and future employability. At the societal level, sport has proven to be a global economic and social phenomenon, contributing to infrastructure development, to global GDP and to building bridges among communities and nations.
I applaud Qatar’s recognition of the 2022 FIFA World Cup as an opportunity to harness the potential of its young population. We at the United Nations encourage this approach and remind all of the importance of promoting the inclusion and empowerment of young women and men, with and without disabilities, and without regard to gender, ethnicity or other social categorizations.
The 2030 Agenda acknowledges sport is an important enabler of sustainable development and peace. We must ensure that the tremendous power of sport is harnessed in our implementation efforts. Last December, the United Nations General Assembly renewed its commitment to this end. In its resolution on sport as a means to promote education, health, development and peace, the General Assembly encouraged Governments to use all the opportunities offered by sport to support the 2030 Agenda and achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, including by mainstreaming sport into development policies and programming.
The Kazan Action Plan, adopted by the sixth World Conference of Sport Ministers last July, was a welcome contribution to this objective, identifying eight priority Sustainable Development Goals for which sport can be a significant driver. These include goals related to health, inclusive and peaceful societies, education, gender equality, urban planning, economic development, sustainable consumption and production, as well as effective and accountable institutions.
While there is growing evidence of the contribution of sport to positive change, some decision makers have yet to be convinced. We must continue to draw on best practices and develop the evidence of how investments in sport benefit societies in a multitude of ways. Only then can we accumulate the level of political will needed to scale up the many good initiatives that use the power of sport for sustainable development.