Sport as development tool promotes solidarity and social inclusion

DISCLAIMER: All opinions in this column reflect the views of the author(s), not of EURACTIV Media network.

Sport, as a tool for education, development and peace, can promote cooperation, solidarity, tolerance, understanding, social inclusion and health at the local, national and international levels, according to leading European sports think-tank Sport and Citizenship.

The following contribution was sent to EURACTIV by Sport and Citizenship (Sport et Citoyenneté).

"In slightly under a month, sport has been mentioned twice by the United Nations as a vehicle for education, health, development and peace. A few weeks after the Summit on the Millennium Development Goals (MDG), on 18 October 2010, the 65th United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution recognising the power of sport in attaining these objectives by 2015.

This recognition means that sport can now be seen as a relevant tool in development policies. There are many reasons for this: through its universality, sport transcends national, cultural, socio-economic and political barriers, which is very important in a multipolar international context.

Its capacity to create links between humans and communities is another factor which helps unite people of different origins and contributes to social cohesion. Its transversal nature, combined with its media power, gives it an active role in vital development questions: health, education, the construction of peace, emergency situations and humanitarian aid.

However, sport in itself is not the universal cure for all problems. Sometimes it is a trap which attracts tension, corruption and all kinds of wheeling and dealing.

Sport, as a tool of strong added value, needs to be integrated into a wider set of development practices, in a sustainable project which favours strengthening the abilities of its beneficiaries and value chains in the long term.

This requires an effective, coordinated approach to using sport as a vehicle for social change, as well as a better definition of the spheres of activity of the different parties involved (public and private). Long-term evaluation of initiatives or even regulation of development measures through sport could perhaps facilitate this coordination and ensure better use of aid.

Finally, in a delicate international context, sport deserves to be included more in the global reflections of those involved on the international scene. Now that the EU is considering the financial measures to be implemented for its external action after 2013, it is a good time to remember this."

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