UN hopes to put sport higher on the agenda

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The United Nations have launched a 'one stop shop' in the field of sport policy, hoping to boost interest across its own agencies and coordinate partnerships on sport and development beyond UN circles.

The UN office on Sport for Development and Peace (UNOSDP) last week launched a new website gathering information on why and how the UN family and its member states use sport and physical education to create positive social change worldwide.

The UN office told EURACTIV that while many of the body's agencies are already using sport for development, putting it on the political agenda remains a challenge internally. But it hopes that the website will raise interest among other agencies in integrating sports into their activities.

As a reference, the UN's refugee agency (UNCHR), its environment programme (UNEP) and its children's fund (UNICEF) already use sport either as a communication and advocacy tool – often via endorsements by famous sportspeople – or directly in their programmes by linking sport activities and hygiene education, for example.

Wilfried Lemke, special adviser to the UN secretary-general on sport for development and peace said the portal marks "a great step towards greater coordination, knowledge-sharing and partnerships regarding sport for development and peace, in UN circles and beyond".

He said it was time to boost the momentum in harnessing the power of sport to achieve the UN Millennium Development Goals. According to the UN, sports can help reach the body's eight anti-poverty targets "by motivating children to attend school, boosting employability, empowering women and curbing the stigma of HIV and AIDS".

As the site brings together all the UN's initiatives related to sport, it also represents an entry point for sports federations with social projects and an interest in cooperating with the UN, the office said.

The portal provides interested stakeholders with sports contacts within various UN agencies to help federations, companies and NGOs to get involved in sport for development.

In July 2006, the European Commission and the Fédération Internationale de Football Associations (FIFA) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to promote football as a factor for development in Africa, the Caribbean and Pacific countries (EURACTIV 11/07/06).

The MoU covers areas ranging from development cooperation and humanitarian aid to racism, post-conflict reconstruction, nation-building, health and education.

The Commission's 2007 White Paper on Sport also sees a role for sports in the EU's external relations and says the EU executive will seek to promote the use of sport as a tool in its development policy as well as to share its values with other parts of the world.

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