Ready, steady, goals: Today sets the Sustainable Development Agenda for the next 15 years
Today, 193 world leaders will gather in New York for the United Nations Sustainable Development Summit to commit to the 17 Global Goals guiding the agenda of the United Nations for the next 15 years. These 17 goals, also called Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), can be found in the document “Transforming Our World – the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development” and aim to have an impact on three key issues: ending extreme poverty, fighting inequality and injustice and last but not least, fixing climate change.
The SDGs have been formulated following what has been said to be one of the largest global consultations building on lessons from the 8 Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) that guided the past 15 years. While some progress has been made through the MDGs, for communities and individuals on the fringes of society and outside of formal structures progress has been reported as limited. This issue was central to the 2013 Report that argued ‘leaving no one behind’ should be one of the key shifts of the post-2015 agenda. The ability to engage those ‘left behind’ and provide alternative spaces for peace and development is something sport can support through adapted programs on the ground that build on local competencies.
Some of the main differences that can be noted:
- The need to involve all individuals, approaching the goals as a collective effort and more specifically, an investment to ensure everyone knows about the goals.
For this the Global Goals campaign will be officially launched with the aim to spread awareness to seven billion people in seven days. The idea is to ensure the agenda’s goals are widely known and, as a result, more likely to be fully implemented. The “Tell everybody campaign” will be officially launched, publicizing the goals with a celebrity-backed campaign including renowned athletes such as Usain Bolt, who features in the No Point Going Halfway video. The world of sport can be a great support here in order to reach out to individuals, communities and marginalised groups to pass the message about the world we want – a future for all. In addition, a partnerships engagement for the SDGs was launched online for individuals to share their contribution and commitment to the 2030 agenda.
- A need for quality monitoring and evaluation as evidence base.
For sport this means a growing need for robust evaluation of the contribution of sport-based approaches to reaching broader sustainable development efforts. There remains to this day, limited evidence of directly attributable, scaled impact on sustainable development from sport. Although it is clear that sport-based approaches cannot solve complex development challenges, it is also clear that it can contribute widely to reaching them. There is a need to identify, quantify, and describe all the possible impacts of these best practice examples we have throughout the world. As Oliver Dudfield illustrated, “The implication is two-fold. First, sport for development and peace (SDP) stakeholders need to establish clear indicators to monitor and evaluate the specific contribution sport-based approaches can make, and ensure claims of the impact made by SDP programmes are equally measured. Secondly, development stakeholders and government, in need of new and innovative approaches that work to ‘leave no-one behind’, should consider integrating innovative implementation tools and methodologies, including SDP.”
- An official recognition of sport is being promoted as a tool to reach the SDGs
The Transforming Our World document highlights Point 37 in the declaration’s introduction states that “Sport is also an important enabler of sustainable development. We recognize the growing contribution of sport to the realization of development and peace in its promotion of tolerance and respect and the contributions it makes to the empowerment of women and of young people, individuals and communities as well as to health, education and social inclusion objectives.” In many ways this recognition means it is time to ask more complex questions: to leaders of sport and sustainable development efforts, for example, we must ask whether adequate policy frameworks, strategy and funding will be in place to maximise the positive impact sport can have? Furthermore, when acknowledging the important role sport plays in many communities and cultures, addressing these goals in sport and around major sport events will, in itself, make a contribution to the broader 2030 agenda.
Another way sport is being recognised is in receiving and advancing together with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach who will speak at the United Nations Sustainable Development Summit 2015 in New York on Saturday.
This movement and these changes mark a significant step forward in the recognition of sport as a tool for development and peace whilst at the same time, providing necessary guidelines to areas of improvement within the sport sector and areas in which sport can support in reaching the SDGs. The path has been laid out in front of us, it is now time for sport to show through practice what it can do; ready, steady, goals.