Youth powering the 8th World Conference on Sport, Culture and Education

Youth powering the 8th World Conference on Sport, Culture and Education

Opening Ceremony Dancers © NOC/NSF

Uniting more than 500 participants from 110 countries, the IOC-UNESCO 8th World Conference on Sport, Culture and Education showcased the power of youth and the concrete change they are affecting in their communities.

The 8th World Conference on Sport, Culture and Education was co-organized by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and UNESCO. The event provided participants - Government representatives, the UN system, sport stakeholders, civil society and youth - with the opportunity to share experience and to strengthen coordination to deepen the positive impact of sport for the socio-economic health of modern societies.

Debates focused on a broad spectrum of topics from social media to educational programmes using sport and the preparations for UNESCO’s Fifth International Conference of Ministers and Senior Officials responsible for Physical Education and Sport (MINEPS V). However, the power and potential of youth to contribute to the development agenda was the take home message of the Conference.

Youth powering the 8th World Conference on Sport, Culture and Education

Young Leaders © NOC/NSF

Building on the recommendation of the Durban Declaration ‘that an investment in young people – using sport as a medium – is an investment in national and community development’, the Conference culminated in a youth-led session. Uniting 9 young leaders from all regions of the world, the session offered a platform to demonstrate the value of youth’s contribution to policy making and good practice.

The 500 Conference participants learned of the impact-oriented work undertaken by youth around the world: whether it be the young representative from Ghana, who has engaged more than 3,600 young people through sport-based education projects in the last year, or the success of a youth-led sports NGO established in Timor Leste which has seen more than 4,000 boys and girls participate in peace building efforts since 2010.

As the young leader representing UNESCO’s partnership with European Athletics noted: “The most important Conference conclusion is that sport is a…valuable and adaptable tool for addressing any challenge in any society..and young people are the natural actors – we are already out there doing it!”

Youth powering the 8th World Conference on Sport, Culture and Education

Marlou van Rhijn, Paralympic Gold Medal Winner, London 2012 © NOC/NSF

Youth engagement lies at the heart of UNESCO’s work to maximize the benefits of sport for all. Considering that half of the world’s population are under 25 years old and that 75 million young people are unemployed, youth represent a critical mass and it is clear that development cannot and will not be sustainable unless they are fully engaged.

“Sport holds the key for this engagement”, UNESCO’s Deputy Director-General, Mr Getachew Engida, commented during the event, “and we must take every opportunity offered by sport as a learning tool and as a platform for young people to forge channels for their participation in public and political life”

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