Celebrating the International Day of Sport for Development and Peace, Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed told an event in New York on Wednesday - headquarters of team UN - that “sport helps find common ground” during times of division.
“Sport has the power to align our passion, energy and enthusiasm around a collective cause,” she maintained. “And that is precisely when hope can be nurtured and trust can be regained”.
Sport has played an important role in all societies throughout history – making it a natural focus for the UN system, to strengthen social ties and promote the ideals of peace, fraternity, solidarity, non-violence, tolerance and justice.
Ms. Mohammed recalled stories of “soldiers climbing over the trenches on the first Christmas Eve of the First World War” to play football and bring about a momentary truce and “table tennis in the 1970s” that thawed Cold War tensions and gave birth to the term “ping-pong diplomacy”.
“It is in our collective interest to harness the tremendous power of sport to help build a better and more sustainable future for all” she stressed.
Moreover, she pointed out that the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development identified sport as “an enabler of sustainable development”.
“Sport can help promote tolerance and respect, contribute to the empowerment of women and young people, and advance health, education and social inclusion”, she continued.
Ahead of the international day on Friday, Ms. Mohammed cited the Secretary-General’s report “Strengthening the Global Framework for Leveraging Sport for Development and Peace” as recognition of the power of sport “to bring people together and achieve common goals.
Affirming that “no institution or entity can do it alone”, she underscored the need for “partnerships between all parts of society, especially youth and local communities”, and elaborated on collaborations with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the international football association, FIFA, to, among other things, advance women in leadership.
Ms. Mohammed also urged changing the day-to-day management of sporting events, so as to harness environmentally-friendly practices and socio-environmental-minded bidding proposals.
“Let us intensify our shared efforts to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and truly recognize the power of sport to change the lives of individuals, communities, countries and beyond”, she stated.
“Thank you” concluded the Deputy Secretary-General “for helping the world score a goal for our common humanity”.