Capitalizing on the Social Dimension of Sport

Throughout the Year, UNESCO has been mobilizing partners from the sport movement to raise awareness of the importance of sport in youth community action and to generate related global commitments.

Most recently, UNESCO worked with its historic partner, the International Olympic Committee (IOC), in the organization of the 7th World Conference on Sport, Education and Culture: “Giving a Voice to Youth” held in Durban, South Africa in December 2010. This global event gathered more than 600 participants, including youth leaders, government representatives, UN agencies, the Sport Movement and academics. 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 International Year of Youth was also promoted and presented by the UNDESA youth focal point during the Conference’s UNESCO-led plenary session which focussed on the “role of youth in promoting inter-cultural dialogue through sport”.

The involvement and input of the youth participants in Durban 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’ [PDF, 81 KB], 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 is also working with organizations like the International Association of Sports Newspapers (IASN) to promote sport values and youth empowerment. This exciting initiative will be launched with the forthcoming first issue of the UNESCO-IASN quarterly e-bulletin, which will focus on sport as a catalyst for development and peace, with a specific focus on Africa. All editions of the e-bulletin will encourage young people to become leaders of positive change in their communities and will feature a ‘youth corner’, written by a young person, discoursing an aspect of the edition’s topic.

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