#Roadto2030: Search for Game – Changers
Global changes are challenging the way we mobilize for change. It’s not time to exit, but it is maybe last moment to change the way we play together. Young people can be powerful agents of change and contribute with transformative solutions.
Last year at the Peace and Sport Forum I met Shirin. She has it all – pure brain, light in her eyes, wise message and a brilliant smile. Shirin is a young Iranian female triathlete. Being Iranian female triathlete introduces a different way of playing the triathlon game; someone would say a challenging one. Yet, Shirin has found a path through as country’s first female triathlete participating in the sport’s world championship. Through the practice of sport, everyday she is a step closer to finding solutions that aligns with her cultural and religious beliefs.
Today, more than ever, it is essential to demand to stakeholders the inclusion of young people when designing policies. “You have unlimited power, unlimited authority, legitimate prerogative to raise your voice. Make your governors, mayors, national assembly members – even professors, coaches and business communities – make them accountable,” said Ban Ki-moon, Secretary General of the United Nations referring to the role of youth to implement the UN 2030 Agenda.
I am part of a generation that can and should bring a change in this world, still when we look towards those to be followed; we see, for instance, board of European Olympic Committee with only one executive female member and no one under 35 years old. Especially at sport events, there is always one or no one female speakers invited to address topics as good governance, inclusion, and health in sports.
Currently, there are so many examples of youth creating a real change in the world. Michael from Germany works hard raising public awareness about refugees and asylum seekers. He has been searching how him as a person, his community, youth council and sport colleagues can play a role in supporting the integration, healing and aspirations of refugees. As an answer he has been developing an online sport dictionary that will be sensitive to refugees’ languages and languages from countries of transit for refugees. This tool will assist to build up inclusive and more understanding societies; coaches or facilitators would be able to welcome and include refugees in sport clubs, events or workshops.
#Roadto2030: Education at first
Donovan, from the Boston University, leads the Youth Science-Policy Interface Platform with a team of young game-changers from UN MGCY. This tool gathers the strengths, experiences, resources and inclusive multi-stakeholder methods for Sustainable Development implementation and understanding. In addition, this platform aims at highlighting any contributions of youth to sustainable development including evidence based on policy making/implementation or use of tech/innovation.
In the sport field, many young people are contributing remarkably. During the European Athletics’ Young Leaders Forum in Amsterdam youth presented the 3-year programme “Road to 2030” which is focused on exploring the implementation of global goals (SDGs) through sport. Participant in this program will attend events related to sports, youth and international development avenues aiming to collect recommendations from young attendees, no matter of their background and diversification.
Also the #SDGyouthsport toolkit, created by youth and for youth, will serve as guideline on how sport can be used to obtain sustainability and how sport can be more sustainable itself. Sport has an important role to play in achieving the SDGs and everybody can be part of it by signing up and joining the #Roadto2030 initiative via firstname.lastname@example.org
Back Youth Yourself!
I believe that the world needs decision makers who will work today, now and immediately, not for young people, but together with young people. World School Sport got a new presidential leadership and they will start the first school sport’s youth council. This space will give voice to young people to directly shape and innovate agendas, as it is for over 15 years a good practice in European Non-Governmental Sports Organization. These decision makers in sports were brave and smart enough to invite youngsters to join the table and speak up!
Today I remember some of the questions-warnings that young leaders of my age or so raised during the European Athletics’ Young Leaders Forum: what is the greatest obstacle between you and the (Olympic) medal? I still hear an echo of their calls to action: Hey you, help me stop teenagers from quitting doing sports! We need to answer those questions; we need to be the answers. Youth have unlimited power to change the way game is played. Remember Shirin from Iran; she is running to show that impossible is actually possible, and this universal rule applies to all countries, to all people. Ne quitter pas today, towards 2030 and beyond!