Time to act
Looking back on the 8th edition of the Peace and Sport International Forum, I now understand why I was convinced that our gathering was the best possible response we could provide to recent attacks around the globe. Although, as with every year, our discussions and debates are important in moving things forward, this time our united front was a testament to the urgent need to transform our knowledge, network and expertise into concrete actions.
The Forum, themed ‘Endangered peace: how can sport help?’ ran over three intellectually and emotionally charged days. The event opened with a Peace Walk thought the centre of Monaco gathering 1,000 people and set the tone for the event which was about unity and coming together.
Gathering a wide variety of delegates, including athletes, politicians, decision-makers, non-profit organizations, sport institutions and foundations made for sessions that were rich in content. In discussing how sport can help tackle our divisions and secure peace we explored issues ranging from escalating local conflicts, the global migration crisis, the rise of extremism, community withdrawal and sounding the alarm to encourage dialogue and united action towards peace building.
During the three days we were challenged to explore different points of view as well as different solutions to local challenges. Exploring these practical examples either through the Peace and Sport Awards, the workshops or side events filled our minds with ideas for future initiatives to close the divide between people and communities.
Two years ago I announced to you that we were launching our Adapted Sport Manual. This resource is now used by various Federations and organizations, it has been tested, used in a wide range of different settings and is today recognized as a cost-effective, pioneering tool. We must keep innovating, building basic sports equipment from waste and recycled resources, and adapt sports federations’ policies in order to facilitate, even in the most remote areas, the practice of uniting people through sporting activities.
For this reason I was proud to make the 8th edition of the Forum about action by announcing the signing of two new partnerships. One with the International School Sport Federation (ISF) in order to engage with young people around the world that participate in sports activities at school, and another with the UEFA Foundation for Children in order to use sport as a medium to promote peace within refugee camps and their surrounding villages and towns. These partnerships will enable Peace and Sport to intensify its actions on the ground.
I believe the actions we have chosen illustrate what I have affirmed on a number of occasions: “Peace is our goal, Sport is our tool”. Do not let the objective of peace under the current climate overwhelm you. As we are trying to show through our new partnerships, the only way to act is to start; even if it may seem like a small local issue, change it. Create a program that tackles local challenges in which the local community changes their own world step by step.
It is time we act in order to reach tangible, sustainable results within local communities. Together, through acts of peace through sport we can change the world. Let’s get to work.