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  • Writer's pictureDavid Thibodeau

International Day of Sport for Development and Peace

Today is the International Day of Sport for Development and Peace, a day to celebrate all the positive ways that sport can contribute to community development and peace around the world.

Sports for Social Impact has explored many, many ways that sport can have a positive social impact, through helping achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, and other social, environmental and economic issues. Through direct policy intervention, funding, and programming, governments, not-for-profit and for profit sectors can all use sport to better our communities.

We wanted to highlight and summarize some of the positive impacts that have been found that sport has over the past year. Sport is an extremely versatile resource that communities have that uses its influence and gathering power to create change. Sport is cross-cultural and there are sports made for every climate that we have on the planet, from the desert, to the arctic to the rainforests.

Sports can have a positive social impact through its economic impact. Sports can create meaningful and decent work for people in the community, through indirect jobs, like construction, and direct jobs like coaches. Sport centres can become community hubs where youth learn important life skills such as responsibility, leadership and time management. We must also move to the social business operating model, which is more sustainable than not-for-profit and more socially responsible than other businesses. Sport is about people, not profits.

Sports can have a positive impact through its environmental impacts. Sport can be a vessel for greater climate action in society. Through decisions of local clubs, national sport organisations, international sport federations and host societies for world championships and Olympic Games, they can influence the local communities to move towards a greener way of life. If sport organisations look for venues that use renewable energy, they can set a standard for the rest of society to follow. Not to mention the benefits of active transport (biking, walking, skating) and how it can lower carbon emissions by getting people away from cars.

Sports can also have a positive impact through its social impacts. Sport can be used a tool for inclusion of marginalized groups in society. Indigenous, LGBTQ+, women and girls and BIPOC communities can all benefit from sport programmes. Sport can also be used to empower these communities, reduce inequalities and lift people up. Sport programmes can help put an end to poverty and increase health and wellbeing in our communities.

By investing in sustainable development, we are creating a more peaceful world. By providing more opportunities for everyone in society to benefit from sports, we are creating a more peaceful world. Sport breaks down barriers where they exist and helps create a more cohesive society.

Sport fits perfectly with development and peace and it’s time we took the opportunities they present more seriously. Unfortunately, sport as a tool for peace and development has largely been overlooked by all sectors of society. The sport industry needs to take a more proactive approach and remind society that sport is about more than just entertainment.


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