UNESCO and IOC call on governments to invest in young people at the 7th World Conference on Sport, Education and Culture in South Africa
The 7th World Conference on Sport, Education and Culture: “Giving a Voice to Youth” was organized by the International Olympic Committee (IOC), in partnership with UNESCO, in South Africa, from 5 to 7 December 2010. The event, hosted by the City of Durban, gathered more than 600 participants including youth leaders, government representatives, UN agencies, the Sport Movement and academics.
Discussions centered on the transversal power and potential of sport across the fields of culture and education, and the role of youth in community cohesion and sustainable development and peace processes.
In line with the objectives of the International Year of Youth: Dialogue and Mutual Understanding, and as a follow-up to the 1st Youth Olympic Games, held in Singapore in August 2010, young participants were given the opportunity to engage in dialogue with the speakers and share their experiences for the first time in the Forum’s history.
The involvement and input of the youth participants was invaluable and this innovation will be extended to all future forums and conferences in the Olympic Movement. In fact, as recommended in the ‘Durban Declaration’, youth ‘should be involved in actions related to the implementation of policies and programmes that concern them, at all levels’. As such, UNESCO and IOC call on all governments to recognize that investment in young people is an investment in national and community development.
UNESCO’s partnership with the IOC, initiated in 1984, is key to achieving the Organization’s mandate and objectives in the field of sport. It is through partnerships like this one that UNESCO can facilitate contact and exchange between the sport movement and its member states to inform sport policy development and implementation. By joining efforts with IOC, UNESCO can affect increased change by expanding its constituencies and reaching a broader range of stakeholders and beneficiaries. In this regard, the Conference also recommended that the IOC’s National Olympic Committees (NOCs) forge stronger working relationships with UNESCO National Commissions to ensure that sport is an essential part of the school curricula in every country.
The UNESCO-IOC bond is further strengthened by programmes such as the Olympic Values Education Programme (OVEP) which teaches young people life skills and values. UNESCO is an important partner in this IOC initiative, particularly in the introduction of the programme to schools, globally, through the UNESCO Associated Schools Network.
In sum, the Conference provided a space for the exchange of information and good practices, to network, to meet people from different cultures and countries and, of course, to celebrate sport as a convener, as a passion, as a pastime, as a peace builder and as a platform to achieve developmental objectives nationally and across borders.