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United Nations’ Resolution on “Sport as an enabler of sustainable development” the ENGSO Youth posit


On 3 December 2018, the General Assembly of the United Nations adopted its latest sport-related resolution, entitled “Sport as an enabler of sustainable development.”

The document could have given considerable momentum to the development of the Sport for Development Peace sector, however in our views, it requires more focus on concrete expectations from global civil society, especially the youth sector. Besides listing some concrete achievements of the last decade, the paper reaffirms what has been stated a number of times already: if used in the right way, sport can have considerable contribution in reaching the Sustainable Development Goals.

But where is the youth voice?

The world today is home to the largest generation of young people in history, 1.8 billion. Young people constitute the majority of the world’s sporting population, but their voice can hardly be heard in the global sport movement and they are also underrepresented in sport federations’ decision making panels.


The resolution forgets to recall some important policy documents on the role of young people and their contribution to sustainable development goals such as the “Youth 2030: the United Nations Youth Strategy”. Although the paper explicitly mentions the Youth Olympic Games recently organized in Buenos Aires, it is mainly to please the interests of the International Olympic Committee.

The role of non-elite, grassroots sport activities that constitute the basis of any sport development interventions at local levels were left out from the document. Although the resolution makes a reference on young people, it only mentions them as a target group, not as a designer and equal player of the sport movement to the attainment of these development goals.

What do we need then?

At ENGSO Youth we welcome the supportive approach of several member states to the sport for development and peace (SDP) sector, we still believe there is a need for more concrete actions from SDP stakeholders, especially the United Nations. In addition to repetitive policy declarations, we need real action. Not only from the civil society but also from sport governing bodies, governments and intergovernmental organizations like the United Nations - with due respect to the efforts made by some of them already.

First of all, there is an urging need for higher levels of diversity in sport decision making bodies concerning youth and female representation alike.

Global decision makers and SDP stakeholders should recognize and implement recommendations from the Colombo Declaration on Youth (2014), the Kazan Action Plan (2017) and the UN Youth 2030 Strategy (2018) on institutionalized role of youth in decision-making processes.

Education as the most powerful tool to change our global future, needs to be strengthened in, through and by the global sport movement, especially building on the opportunities provided by mega and middle-scale sport events.


Therefore, we call on the attention of Organization Committees to provide space for active youth participation in these sport events through peer-to-peer learning activities (such as workshops based on non-formal education) and increased levels of youth volunteering opportunities.

These events also provide ultimate platforms for youth initiatives raising awareness on Sustainable Development Goals and on the importance of ‘greening’ sports.

Furthermore we call for the creation of a global youth sport task force to serve as a contact point, platform for information, good practices, know-how and innovation in the field of Sport for Development and Peace and to allocate accessible funding for youth-led sport-based development initiatives to be realized across the globe. The task force shall also provide opportunities for identifying and mapping the role of young people in the SDP movement.

What do we do at ENGSO Youth?

Since its establishment, ENGSO Youth is committed to promote sport-based youth education. In 2016 we started to develop a training course directed to young sports people in order to raise awareness on the importance of Sustainable Development Goals and to highlight the role of sport in achieving these goals.

Our SDG workshop has already been realized in different middle-scale sport events including the 2016 European Athletics Championship in Amsterdam and the 2018 European University Games in Coimbra. In May 2018 it was also delivered with great success at the European Youth Event, one of the major gatherings of young Europeans at the European Parliament in Strasbourg.


Based on our critical approach, we also need to reflect on our achievements. It is clear that we need to do much more to reach out to an ever growing number of young people involved in sports and to raise awareness on the importance of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.

In order to develop our non-formal education based trainings, we are constantly seeking support from sport governing bodies, intergovernmental institutions and other stakeholders. Let’s translate the words on paper into real action, let’s create a more sustainable future through sport and physical activity!

If you are interested in our SDG workshop please get in touch with ENGSO Youth via email (info@youth-sport.net) or our social media channels.


#UnitedNations #inclusion #sportforall #grassroots #refugees

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