Sports have a significant role to play in development goals, both as an example of the benefits of teamwork and as an advocate for aiding the poor, sick and hungry when its champions become spokespersons for United Nations humanitarian agencies, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said today.
“We use sport in many of our programmes. Some of the world’s greatest athletes are helping us to raise awareness on important issues, such as hunger, HIV-AIDS, gender equality, education and environmental care,” he told a round-table discussion on the value of sports as a development tool held in connection with the opening day of the UN summit on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
“Here at the MDG Summit, we will hear much talk about the need for stronger partnerships in making the Goals a reality,” he said referring to the targets of slashing poverty and hunger, combating disease, protecting the environment and boosting education, all 2015. “Sport exemplifies that very spirit: teamwork, fair play, people collaborating for a common goal.”
He stressed the “very fruitful” UN partnership with the Olympic movement as part of the effort to educate and engage the public. “I urge the entire sporting community, including the private sector, to build on these expanding contacts with the United Nations,” he said.
He cited this summer’s football World Cup in South Africa where he witnessed first hand the “power of sport for change” with the many initiatives undertaken in support of the MDGs.
“More and more sportsmen and women are devoting their talents and visibility to promoting the UN’s goals and values,” he said. “Millions of other people are active every day all over the world in grassroots and sport-for-all projects. They are using sport to promote democratic values, keeping our youth safe from sexually transmitted diseases, steering them from drug use, taking care of our environment.
“Let us support these wonderful people, these powerful initiatives. The world of sport offers so many opportunities. So please help us score all eight millennium development goals before the final whistle in 2015.”