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Women's Kibaddi tournament 

Credit: Amit Kumar Singh, Manjari Foundation

How can we scale up sport’s contribution to the SDGs?

14 November 2019
Author: Steve Harknett

Experts in sport for development and peace (SDP) and NGOs gathered at Wilton Park, an international forum in England, for a summit in July 2019.

Delegates were there to tackle a pressing question: how can we scale up sport’s contribution to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)? 

The group focused particularly on actions for SDG5 (gender equality) and SDG16 (peace, justice and strong institutions). 1 November marks 100 days since the end of the event. Here we look at what actions have been realised.

Sharing experiences and committing to actions

Experts at the event included UN representatives, governments and governmental bodies, sporting bodies, researchers, and SDP delivery organisations, including the Bond Sport for Development Group. There were attendees from across the UK, Malawi, Jamaica, Chile and South Africa. 

They shared experiences from a wide range of past and ongoing projects, which have explored the area of sport for development and peace. Encouragingly, the consensus was that sport does contribute to tackling gender inequality and to building peace and justice in society. 


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A more challenging debate centred around what the appropriate and sustainable ways were to scale up this contribution. To this end, delegates discussed the inclusion of SDP into government policies, and the mainstreaming of SDP into the wider work of international development NGOs. 

To support this, delegates recognised the need to strengthen the SDP sector through closer collaboration between SDP actors. They also agreed that they needed to build the case for sport by improving evidence and the narrative of the impact of sport.
From talk to action: what have we achieved 100 days on?

As well as celebrating the good work we have done, this event focussed on delivering action from our discussions. We asked delegates to commit to an action or actions based on what they had learnt or on connections they had made. 

Making it happen

So what have delegates achieved since the summit? Here are what some of them reported back.

“I committed to integrate sports and development more systematically in our capacity development work. Since Wilton Park, Saudi Arabia expressed interest in a possible scoping mission on SDP. Our office had an initial meeting and will follow-up on this during autumn/winter 2019. 

“I will also present at a working group meeting on model indicators on sport, PE, physical activity and the SDGs in Geneva in November, where hopefully the model indicators in Commonwealth countries will be adopted.” - Robert Venne, Social Affairs Officer, UN.

“I committed to sharing the outcomes of the conference and to champion SDP within VSO, my organisation. Since Wilton Park, I’ve worked with a colleague with an interest in SDP to become VSO’s representative on the Bond SDP Group, and he has already attended his first meeting. 

“I’ve also supported colleagues to share their learnings from our pilot SDP project, which we delivered with Tackle Africa in Lesotho and Zambia at key VSO fora. As a result, the lessons have reached staff and volunteers from across my organisation.” - Clive Ingleby, Global Health Lead, Voluntary Services Overseas.

“I committed to sharing my evidence of the impact that sport for development has on youth in Africa and Kenya. I did this to help move towards the achievement of the SDGs. 

“Since Wilton Park, I’ve connected the youth-led SDP groups in Kenya to different development partners. The hope is that they would benefit from the local knowledge and expertise to ensure further inclusivity of African youth voices in the global SDP dialogue.” - Lin Cherurbai Sambili-Gicheha, PhD researcher, Loughborough University.

“I committed to continue to proactively give away our SDP methodology to the right INGOs who can take it to scale more efficiently than us.

“Since Wilton Park, we’ve started leading the coordination of a new SDP network in West Africa and hosted the opening workshop. And in East Africa we’re delivering a learning programme with partners from Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania, including staff exchanges.” - Charlie Gamble, CEO, Tackle Africa.

“I committed to raising awareness among the international development sector on SDP and to grow the membership of the Bond SDP Group, of which I’m co-chair. Since Wilton Park, I’ve invited 16 Bond NGO groups, across the spectrum of international development, to come to the next SDP group meeting. 

“I’ve also had conversations with several of these groups about how they can engage more in SDP. As a result, some mainstream development NGOs expressed an interest in joining the SDP Group.” - Steve Harknett, Global SDP Advisor, United Purpose.

Through fostering exchange and learning, the Wilton Park event succeeded in acting as a catalyst for far wider efforts in scaling up and mainstreaming of SDP beyond just the invited delegates.

Thanks to Wilton Park, United Purpose, Laureus Sport for Good Foundation, and Comic Relief for making this event possible.

For more information, please see the full report
 

About the author

Steve Harknett

Steve worked as global adviser on sport for development and peace at United Purpose.