The Millennium Development Goals


The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) were established at the UN Millennium Summit in September 2000. The eight MDGs aimed to reduce poverty, hunger, child mortality and disease, and to promote education, maternal health, gender equality, environmental sustainability and global partnerships. The target date for achieving the MDGs was 2015.

Sport was recognised as a viable and practical tool to assist in the achievement of the MDGs. While sport did not have the capacity to tackle solely the MDGs, it proved to be very effective when part of a broad, holistic approach to addressing the MDGs.

National Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers (PRSPs) provided the guiding framework for low-income countries in their efforts to attain the MDGs. A number of countries (including Cape Verde, Mozambique, Sierra Leone, Tanzania, and Uganda) integrated sport into their PRSPs. 

UN Secretary-General's video message about the need to accelerate action on the MDGs in the 1,000 days until the 2015 target date




1. Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger

  • Participants, volunteers and coaches acquire transferable life skills which increase their employability
  • Vulnerable individuals are connected to community services and supports through sport-based outreach programs
  • Sport programs and sport equipment production provide jobs and skills development
  • Sport can help prevent diseases that impede people from working and impose health care costs on individuals and communities Sport can help reduce stigma and increase self-esteem, self-confidence and social skills, leading to increased employability

2. Achieve universal primary education 

  • School sport programs motivate children to enroll in and attend school and can help improve academic achievement 
  • Sport-based community education programs provide alternative education opportunities for children who cannot attend school
  • Sport-based community education programs provide alternative education opportunities for children who cannot attend school 

3. Promote gender equality and empower women

  • Sport helps improve female physical and mental health and offers opportunities for social interaction and friendship
  • Sport participation leads to increased self-esteem, self-confidence, and enhanced sense of control over one’s body
  • Girls and women access leadership opportunities and experience 
  • Sport can cause positive shifts in gender norms that afford girls and women greater safety and control over their lives
  • Women and girls with disabilities are empowered by sport-based opportunities to acquire health information, skills, social networks, and leadership experience 

4. Reduce child mortality

  • Sport can be used to educate and deliver health information to young mothers, resulting in healthier children 
  • Increased physical fitness improves children’s resistance to some diseases
  • Sport can help reduce the rate of higher-risk adolescent pregnancies
  • Sport-based vaccination and prevention campaigns help reduce child deaths and disability from measles, malaria and polio
  • Inclusive sport programs help lower the likelihood of infanticide by promoting greater acceptance of children with disabilities

5. Improve maternal health

  • Sport for health programs offer girls and women greater access to reproductive health information and services 
  • Increased fitness levels help speed post-natal recovery 

6. Combat HIV and AIDS, malaria, and other diseases

  • Sport programs can be used to reduce stigma and increase social and economic integration of people living with HIV and AIDS 
  • Sport programs are associated with lower rates of health risk behaviour that contributes to HIV infection 
  • Programs providing HIV prevention education and empowerment can further reduce HIV infection rates
  • Sport can be used to increase measles, polio and other vaccination rates
  • Involvement of celebrity athletes and use of mass sport events can increase reach and impact of malaria, tuberculosis and other education and prevention campaigns

7. Ensure environmental sustainability

  • Sport-based public education campaigns can raise awareness of importance of environmental protection and sustainability 
  • Sport-based social mobilization initiatives can enhance participation in community action to improve local environment 

8. Develop a global partnership for development

  • Sport for Development and Peace efforts catalyze global partnerships and increase networking among governments, donors, NGOs and sport organizations worldwide

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