Following are UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed’s opening remarks, as prepared for delivery, for the International Day of Sport for Development and Peace event, in New York on 3 April:
I am delighted to join in this celebration of International Day of Sport for Development and Peace. As Nelson Mandela reminded us: “Sport has the power to change the world.”
In time of divisions and distrust, sport helps bring people and communities together. Sport helps find common ground. Think about the 1995 Rugby World Cup as South Africa — emerging from apartheid — rallied together under the name of sport.
Think about the 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 on the Western Front.
Think about table tennis in the 1970s thawing tensions during the cold war and giving birth to the term “ping-pong diplomacy”.
Sport has the power to align our passion, energy and enthusiasm around a collective cause. And that is precisely when hope can be nurtured and trust can be regained. It is in our collective interest to harness the tremendous power of sport to help build a better and more sustainable future for all.
Indeed, 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.
The United Nations recognizes the power of sport to bring people together and achieve our common goals. Last year, the Secretary-General issued a report on “Strengthening the Global Framework for Leveraging Sport for Development and Peace”.
To direct our ambitions and efforts, both the 2017 Kazan Action Plan and the Global Action Plan on Physical Activity 2018-2030 are tools for convergence and coherence around sport for development and peace.
But, of course, no institution or entity can do it alone. To achieve the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, we need partnerships between all parts of society, especially youth and local communities. Today, you will learn more about some important sporting projects on which we are collaborating with an array of partners from around the world.
Let me cite two examples. We are working closely with the International Olympic Committee and the Tokyo Organizing Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games to raise global awareness of the Sustainable Development Goals.
The Tokyo 2020 Games Sustainability Plan and ambitions are rooted in delivering a sustainable Games and showcasing innovative solutions. We welcome, in particular, efforts to address climate change and consider human rights, labour and fair business practices.
We are also working closely with football’s FIFA [Fédération Internationale de Football Association] to raise awareness of the Sustainable Development Goals at the local community levels. The partnership is about such topics as advancing women in leadership and setting policies and making the most of sport as a tool for youth development and building life skills.
Sport can also mobilize cross-generational participation and serve as an effective vehicle to reach the most vulnerable including people living with disabilities. As leaders in this field, each of you here today has the power, network and resources to make a meaningful difference. Let us intensify our shared efforts to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals and truly recognize the power of sport to change the lives of individuals, communities, countries and beyond.
We have the opportunity to change the manner in how sporting events are governed and managed in the day-to-day operations – green procurement practices, bidding proposals that comply with socio-environmental considerations are just two additional areas that I call upon your further engagement and support. Thank you for being here. Thank you for your engagement. And thank you for helping the world score a goal for our common humanity. Thank you.