24.11.2011 - UNESCOPRESS

European Athletics and UNESCO renew partnership

© Marko Mumm/ European Athletics - European Athletics Junior Championship 2011 in Tallinn (Estonia)

UNESCO and European Athletics have renewed their partnership to promote athletics as a driver for personal development and social cohesion, especially among young women and men. The new agreement, which runs until 2015, was signed by European Athletics President Hansjörg Wirz and UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova.

The agreement foresees the continuation of work undertaken by the two organizations since 2006, including the Young Leaders Community project that promotes volunteering and community development initiatives in athletics.

According to the agreement, a European Athletics-UNESCO Young Leaders Forum will be held in conjunction with the European Athletics Championships in Helsinki (Finland) in 2012 and then in Zurich (Switzerland) in 2014.

Other joint projects include an anti-doping education programme for young athletes and the promotion of gender equality, empowerment and women’s leadership in sport. The latter is in line with UNESCO’s Global Priority on Gender Equality and with its work towards meeting the internationally agreed Millennium Goals concerning education (MDG2) and gender equality (MDG3).

UNESCO Director-General Bokova said: “Sport is one of the most powerful media we have to convey UNESCO’s messages and ideals of peace and development, especially among youth. Our partnership with European Athletics will give us access to one of the largest participant sports in Europe, as well as delivery capabilities for initiatives that aim to promote non-formal education, fight discrimination, promote youth engagement and strengthen social cohesion.”

“We are delighted to extend our already fruitful cooperation with UNESCO,” said Hansjörg Wirz. “European Athletics’ ‘Your Sport for Life’ strategy means using the social and well-being values of the sport to strengthen our relationship with our audience by adding value to their lives, and UNESCO brings considerable expertise, credibility and visibility to all projects in this area.”

European Athletics is one of the six Area Associations of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF). Its mission is to promote, foster and develop athletics in Europe. It stages an extensive programme of championship events, including biennial European Athletics Championships, one of the most visible events on the international sports calendar.

Since 2006, UNESCO and European Athletics have collaborated regularly organizing the first two editions of the European Athletics-UNESCO Young Leaders Forum, and delivering anti-doping education projects during the European Athletics Junior and U23 Championships of 2007, 2009 and 2011.

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