Current Trends in Sport for Development and Peace: A Young Professionals Perspective

The term "Sport for Development and Peace" refers to the “intentional use of sport to achieve specific development and peace building objectives," “usually in third world countries or impoverished first world communities.” Over the past decade more than 1,000 organizations, both governmental and non-governmental, have recognized and embraced the field of sport as an effective, low-cost means to promote development and peace objectives. Operating in more than 120 countries, these organizations depend on a diverse range of stakeholders whose daily work draws on the power of sport or play to empower both individuals and communities. These sports-related organizations function to address relevant issues of childhood development, community development, health promotion/disease prevention, conflict resolution, childhood obesity, inadequate health, poor nutrition, academic failure and anti-social behavior.

Overall, sport has great potential to be used as a tool for development and peace objectives. If implemented correctly, sport can serve as an effective catalyst for physical, social, health and economic empowerment of both individuals and communities throughout the world. Yet establishing sport programs too quickly without consideration of the given culture and environment can result in negative unintended consequences. This analysis examines five major benefits associated with the use of sport programs:

• Peace building
• Health promotion / disease prevention
• Education / childhood development
• Social inclusion
• Economic development

The ability of sports programs to achieve these benefits will also be assessed in relation to three benchmark criteria:

• Costs
• Ability to be accurately monitored and evaluated
• Ability to effectively cultivate awareness around their benefits and impact

Using these metrics, this report argues for the cost-effectiveness and practicality of these programs based on their low cost to establish and sustain; their demonstrably high impact; and the multiple, accessible mediums that presently exist to highlight their value, invite involvement, and raise awareness about their demonstrable benefits.

Nonetheless, current understanding and validation remain major obstacles in the Sport for Development and Peace Movement. Governments traditionally do not view sport programs as integral catalysts or contributors to social or economic development, do not deem sport for development and peace as a priority area, and thus delegitimize the role of sport within their national or international agendas. This report aims to refocus that lens on the broader spectrum of the physical, emotional, social and ultimately economic empowerment that children and communities derive from sport programs, so that governmental organizations around the world might gain a more holistic understanding of their potential developmental and peace keeping potential. Indeed this is one of the first steps toward raising awareness with governments and other policy officials to understand how these programs can actually enhance individual and community health and thereby reduce public spending. Once this awareness regarding the intersection among sports, development, health and human rights is emphasized and strengthened, policy makers will be better able to articulate and subsequently implement Sport for Development and Peace initiatives in their national agendas. Governments around the world can be expected to serve a greater percentage of their citizens through sports programs in both rural and urban regions.

Operationally, metrics must also be developed to achieve measurable standards in program design, methodology, implementation and impact. It will also be critical to engage and partner with community planners, local role models and leaders, and other Sport for Development and Peace nonprofit groups to create safe neighborhoods and areas for increased opportunities for physical activity. The need for coordination with the private sector must be considered. Prominent sport organizations, businesses and corporations which must be urged to demonstrate enhanced social responsibility in the form of donations and other support.

Link to access report: Current Trends in Sport for Development and Peace: A Young Professionals Perspective