No more tomorrows in youth and sport for development and peace
If you were connected to social networks today, you couldn’t have missed the two vibrating topics #iLoveYOG and #youth4SDGs. With less than 100 days to go to the YOG the IOC has launched its Winter Youth Olympic Games social media campaign with the aim to engage young athletes and wide young audiences. On the other side, world has started this autumn 15 years countdown towards achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.
Yet ensuring Games and achieving Goals however, only seem possible with the active participation of today’s generation of young people, 1.8 billion strong, the largest in history.
As a young person, working, volunteering and leading programs in the field of sport, I have been told so many times that I was the future and yet here I am, active and present today. I hear, ‘youth of today are the future of tomorrow’. I wish to challenge this statement; who is the main target of marketing campaigns? Who are the main beneficiaries of sport clubs? Who are the most vulnerable in world emerging crises? Who are the predominant users of internet and social networks?
Youth today has become a central part of the present and as such their contribution needs to be considered on a level footing, from implementation, decision making to strategy and conceptualization. The immense growth of young entrepreneurs or the proportion of education that is higher than at any other point in our history highlights how present and relevant youth is to shaping today. There has been a shift in recent year where we are not only speaking to our target group in a unilateral way but we have realized they also have expectations and demands that need to be heard.
Global changes are challenging the way we mobilize for change; we now need to learn to build dialogues across the sectors, inclusive for youth and for tools that technology and multiculturalism are introducing.
Just last week, my organization ENGSO Youth took part in 9th UNESCO Youth Forum. Invited by UNESCO’s Youth and Sport Section, ENGSO Youth was able to actively contribute to the dialogues in Paris; divided in 8 topics, relevant to the new SDGs. “Rights, freedoms and responsibilities” and “Learning, personal development and sustainability” were engaqing youth from all qround the world in understanding the framework and predicting the desired futures, coming up with youth recommendations that would shift the focus of UNESCO and enrich it with the youth perspective. On this occasion 3 ENGSO Youth representatives, Young Delegates Andrea Ugrinoska from Macedonia, Orlane Francois and Yoann Soirot from France, actively followed and contributed to the Forum. They were part of capacity building workshops as well as in the Rapporteurs meetings, trying to finalize the recommendations, and present them in the final plenary in front of the deputy Director General and UN’s Youth Envoy on Youth.
These young representatives are coming from the ENGSO Youth Young Delegates Programme, recently awarded with World Sustainability award at TAFISA World Congress. Since its creation in 2007, ENGSO Youth has been devoted to promote the use of sport and physical activity as tools for social change. The power of sport in overcoming cultural, linguistic or social barriers represents the basis of ENGSO Youth approach and methodology. To reach this objective we develop projects, tailored on young people needs that are, entirely, designed and implemented by youth. Welcoming the 2030 Agenda, ENGSO Youth has recently launched #SDGyouthsport channel for developing programmes, tools, workshops and activities for implementation of Sustainable devlopment goals through sport. If we haven’t reached you yet, do not hesitate to share your story, activity or join exsisting ones by contacting us via #SDGyouthsport.
Another example I wish to mention who are highly involved in the sport for development and peace field and have understood the relevance of involving youth are the Commonweath secretariat. They have integrated as part of their structure a youth working group which is being renewed as we speak as they search and selected candidates.
On a youth summit level, the One Young World Summit, established as an inspiration by the Olympic Charter and values, has been a great support of peace through sport in including a session on the sporting life and breaking down barriers in last year’s event in Dublin and this year again they will introduce youth leaders to the potential of sport as a tool through a breakout session on the topic of Leadership Through Sport.
Youth sports engagement at UNESCO, global wide campaigns, summits and initiatives for development that is youth-led and youth-inclusive, sustained and inspired by values of the Olympic truce…We are perceiveing here a global trend of merging initiatives and synergies towards providing a solutions and meeting the needs both globaly and localy. Hystoric agreement between United Nations and International Olympic Committee last spring and this year’s speech of Thomas Bach at UN Headquqters in New York are leaving us without any doubt – April 6th seems not anymore lonely day to call on sport for development and peace, but commitment is growing daily towards “sharing the same values of contributing to a better and peaceful world through sport.” Youth from all continents have recognized the momentum and have gathered under the patronage of alumni of International Olympic Academy, putting joint forces into the International Working Group on Youth and Sport. Aiming to follow and actively contribute to the UN-IOC cooperation.
At this year’s Peace and Sport International Forum, this Global Youth and Sport movement has been recognized as important to address the floor and audience at the plenary, calling on « Time to act as a Team »
So here we are, on the crossroads of diverse global agendas that are committing humanity to act. How to ensure measurable milestones? Who are the leaders to support? How to identify the relevant aspacts of good examples for us? You will be surprised how much getting young people involved will create a new dynamic and shape the vision. We cannot wait tomorrow; we are calling all stakeholders today to include young people into designing and dialogue. For youth, by youth, with youth is an appeal for all sport organisations to consider young people from the start of the decision making, to jointly design generations’ path to move to the next level.
Action, is more than a word. Today we have sparkles, committed individuals and visionaries. Today we are eager to hear more examples of this reality from the field of sport for development and peace where we can witness a predominant will of youth who are ready and keen to get things moving forward, today. Today we need these youngsters to be empowered, to go through Youth Gateways, so that tomorrow we can have youth councils in all sport networks, more Sport Centers for Hope, less goals on the bucket list… Even if world leaders miss the opportunity to open the gates, pull down the walls and step out, young people won’t miss this chance to serve and act today so that we have the tomorrow we dream of.