ICSSPE Executive Director:
Sport for Development and Peace - How can this working area benefit from a structured global and
1. Defining the frame
Actors in sport, academia, the private sector, non-profit and non-governmental
organisations, government and UN agencies, the general public as well as
young people are increasingly interested in the potential of sport as a tool to
reach personal, community, national and international development objectives.
Many of these organisations and individuals are interested in how to use sport
as a tool for addressing some of the challenges that arise from humanitarian
crises in conflict and post-conflict settings. Hence the sport and development
potential ranges from post-disaster intervention, through reaching people or
communities in crisis, to economic development and the creation of job
opportunities, including many different forms of social and psycho-social
In contrast to the development of sport, sport for development and peace is
seen as something new by the general public, although there have been
initiatives prior to resolution 58/5 that was adopted by the UN General
Assembly in November 2003.
It is characterised by mostly practical approaches; and we are here to discuss
if, how and in what areas the link to academia should be strengthened.
It is suggested that initiatives that are being conducted under the umbrella of
sport for development and peace might be measured against their
effectiveness in reaching the Millennium Development Goals. As a
consequence we need to ask ourselves whether and to what extend our
activities can contribute to eradicating extreme poverty and hunger, achieving
universal primary education, promoting gender equality and empowering
women, reducing child mortality and improving maternal health, combatting
HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases, ensuring environmental sustainability,
and developing a global partnership for development. You will appreciate that
these are extremely important issues and in light of these we need to be
careful with our claims that sport can help to make this world a better place.
3. Existing Activities
It is impossible to count existing programmes and projects in total but we know
that there is a huge amount and diversity. A comprehensive analysis of internet
entries will allow us to identify dominant sports and regions where activities
occur; and the objectives of the various providers. Whether these are
representative for the reality of development activities, again, cannot be
testified with certainty. A close look will reveal that there are many local
activities we are not aware of and of which the media does not take any note.
Development work is not easy to sell.
Many existing activities have a psycho-social character, being field projects
that aim at participation. Many of the initiatives stress that they follow an
inclusive approach. Others focus on accessibility which not only includes
projects and programmes for people with different abilities; accessibility is
limited for different groups of people for different reasons.
Health and life issues are being adressed in many initiatives, eg HIV/AIDS
programmes etc. Others aim at development of facilities, infrastructure and
economy. Finally, another group links field work with the development of means
which allow for monitoring and evaluation of process and results. These have
the potential to bridge the gap between the field and the academic world.
4. Research activities
Talking about monitoring and evaluation; when and what do we wish to monitor
and evaluate? There is a need for thorough process monitoring to adapt
strategies to specific needs and for evaluation of outcomes. Both require
quantitative and qualitative work and cover very different aspects of projects
and programmes such as: development of individuals, towards different
purposes, eg relief of trauma, rehabilitation, upskilling; development of
structures towards sustainability and self improvement; development of
organisations; types of sport; group dynamics; conflict competence; attitudes;
Apart from the wish to monitor the process and evaluate results as well as
apart from the need for research in this specific area, the dynamic progress of
sport for development and peace world-wide evokes research tasks in many
UN agencies, responsible national ministries and private companies that
provide funding for development projects may measure outcomes against
political objectives and policies and are more likely to support initiatives that
can demonstrate value through scientific evidence. The important reason for
research, however, is to be able to react sensibly and sensitively to existing
A social scientific audit of costs and benefits over time, across cultures,
individuals and groups involved is necessary, but there is an urgent need for
robust methods of securing and using evidence of benefit for sport and
development. Most current evidence largely dependent upon case studies, is
seen as “soft” by funders. But if enough case studies are available which
have included the right kinds of indicators of benefit, they can be used together
as harder evidence. However, there is an ongoing need to engage with impact
measurement, and learn from other areas which have advanced more, eg
environmental and social work. ICSSPE is willing to contribute to this task, as
ithe organisation is already doing through its participation in different contexts.
5. Academic programmes
As academic and specific training of facilitators for sport for development and
peace is not yet sufficiently developed, their backgrounds are diverse.
Facilitators come from various sectors, including the social and the sport
The University of Trinidad and Tobago offers a Masters Degree to prepare for
career opportunities and leadership positions at the local, regional and
international level in development through sport. The University of the Western
Cape, in cooperation with several partners, is in the process of implementing a
Masters Programme as well. Other universities offer classes that are relevant
for sport and development without providing a full programme.
It is however debatable whether a specific university programme is needed, or
whether a comprehensive cross-disciplinary range of courses in the context of
a sport science or physical education programme could be sufficient and lead
to a degree in sport for development. Yet specific challenges typical for sport
for development and peace initiatives, like entrepreneurship and legal issues,
do need to be addressed.
In any case, designing academic programmes requires the expertise of other
sport science disciplines like pedagogy, psychology, sociology, marketing, legal
aspects, cultural studies, anthropology, and others. This explains the need for
cross-disciplinary and sectoral collaboration as well as between practitioners
and the academic community. Their close collaboration can be a crucial
prerequisite for funding, for the implementation and outcomes of sport and
development projects and especially for long-term and sustainable planning.
6. Activities in the governmental and non-governmental human sector
Despite the long standing implementation of sport for development-initiatives by
non-governmental organisations, increasing support and interest from
governmental organisations, both at national and international level can be
noticed, especially since the UN General Assembly in 2003 declared the year
2005 as the International Year of Sport and Physical Education and
implemented a United Nations Inter-Agency Task Force on Sport for
Development and Peace.
The division of sport and physical education at UNESCO was shifted from the
Education Department to the Social and Human Science Department.
After the International Working Group on Sport for Development and Peace was
founded in 2004 to promote the adoption of policy recommendations to
governments, the Intergovernmental Committee of Physical Education and
Sport (CIGEPS) at UNESCO has implemented a working group on sport and
development for the years 2008 and 2009. In this context two development
conferences in Tansania and Jamaica, both in September 2008, were held.
The mandate for the International Working Group on Sport for Development and
Peace has been extended in 2008, and UN agencies and the International
Olympic Committee are seeking a closer collaboration. FIFA is discussing during
their current congress 9-10 June 2010 that 30 Mio US$ will be allocated to the
Football for Hope-project for the years 2011-2014 – all these are signals that
the links between sport and development will last for the near future
7. Partners outside sport
As sport becomes increasingly part of humanitarian and development work, as
well as part of the corporate social responsibility practices of private sector
companies, interested parties are anxious to explore the potential, as well as
the limitations, of sport in their work. There are quite a few societal areas that
can be seen as natural stakeholders, especially the health, youth and education
sector which should be addressed. Today there are also examples where
national ministries collaborate rather than each of them claiming responsibilities
for themselves. But these examples need to be expanded.
And there are examples where national cultural bodies such as British Council,
CIDA and USAID support sport for development-initiatives. ICSSPE and the
Psycho-social Competence Centre of the International Red Cross/Red Crescent
Movement have also signed a partnership.
8. Communication, visibility, awareness and marketing of projects
Visibility, public perception and public reputation are important in the context of
sport and development initiatives. This is due to the character of development
initiatives which are to a large extend dependent on project funding. From a
sport marketing perspective a critical analysis of investments is suggested as
well as an analysis of the claims and realities of governments, sports
federations and the corporate sector regarding their involvement.
Stakeholders in sport and development need to link practical work, research
and policy development with another in order to be successful. Good practice
needs to be exemplified and evidence disseminated. ICSSPE is brokering and
encourageing multi-disciplinary work through its network with a wide range of
disciplinary organisations and expertise, and offers access to multi-disciplinary
researchers and expertise.
The Council is involved in many governmental and non-governmental initiatives.
Additionally, the Council organises conferences and seminars and puts
emphasis on the inclusion of sport and physical activity in crisis and post-
Only through parallel action in education, science and advocacy we will be able
to contribute significantly to the agenda of policy makers and thus to the overall
development of our society.