Creating pathways for social change
As 2016 drew to a close I want to delve into the importance of using digital media and information platforms in the service of peace. Sport information content focused on peace and development has a potential to become a vehicle for social change. Through stories, news and information materials it is possible to create long-lasting personal connections and mutual understanding for the future. With that thought in mind we launched the Peace and Sport Watch in partnership with Agence France Presse in 2015, a digital platform aimed at offering accessible, neutral and timely peace through sport news.
The peace through sport movement is growing stronger every day. Governments, athletes, sports governing bodies, academics and civil society representatives are realizing a full potential of sport for positive social change. Within this context it is important not to forget that while the sport movement for peace is growing, we are carrying the responsibility to be a well-informed.
A tendency of emotional rather then rational reaction on news and information started with a growing culture of “the minute news”. This phenomenon is marked by an impulsive and reckless conclusion of the facts. This culture of reactivity jeopardizes our reflections, observations and criticism. I believe that today more than ever a content we produce and share should be driven by the human element and wish to transform the world to become a better place.
For instance, in 2016 the Peace and Sport Watch presented information focused on the promotion of innovative problem solving opinion articles. It also served as a space to share striking examples of sport-based initiatives and field projects dedicated to the pursuit of a more peaceful world. I am proud to say that this year the platform shared 50 weekly opinions from 28 different authors and 238 AFP news.
This year we have seen that sport can serve as a platform for diplomacy and a tool for tolerance. The best example is the gathering of Cuban and American governments at the historic baseball match in Havana and the Refugee Olympic team marching in the Opening Ceremony in Rio. It created awareness among governments, sports governing organizations and civil society about the importance of commitment within actions that promotes peace, social cohesion and integration. It was memorably and powerfully invoked by IOC president: “These great athletes will show everyone that, despite the unimaginable tragedies that they have faced, anyone can contribute to society through their talent, and most important, through the strength of the human spirit.”
In that sense the diversity of topics, ideas and people who contributed to the weekly opinions have engaged reders to take actions and use sport as a tool for sustainable peace.
To conclude, I want to highlight some 2016 quotes by Watch contributors and thank to all journalists and readers for their involvement in our community and the Peace and Sport Watch.
Wilfried Lemke, Special Adviser to the UN Secretary-General on Sport for Development and Peace
“Let us come together to promote a more inclusive and peaceful world through sport’s universal values and principles”
Geert Hendriks, Head of Projects, AISTS
“Rio has firmly put the use of sport in a refugee context “on the map” which leads to several opportunities”.
Guo Chuan, Champion for Peace
“The Flame continuously brings optimism to a world that it is dealing with war and conflicts”.
Ummul Choudhury, Co-Founder and CEO Capoeira4Refugees “Sport-based programmes are essential to the long-term wellbeing of refugee children, as well as to the long-term prospects of the war-affected countries”.
Peace and Sport wishes you a happy holiday season to those who are celebrating, and all the best to you in the year to come!