The UN adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in 2015. Paragraph 37 recognizes sport as “important enabler of sustainable development” and emphasizes the “growing contribution of sport to the realization of development and peace […] 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". However, the SDGs are only achievable, if social, economic and environmental dimensions are considered.
This keynote is based on a rights-based approach and presents premises of empowerment such as resource-orientation or self-determination. With regard to sport, the three areas of empowerment around, in and through sport are defined. This speech provides examples for ‘in sport’ such as safeguarding issues, and emphasizes mega sporting events linked to human rights for ‘around sport’. The main focus is dedicated to context and preconditions of ‘empowerment through sport’.
Thoughtful assessments of socio-cultural contexts and intersectionality are key factors for any sustainable project that uses sport as a tool for social change, peace and development (S&D). To be as inclusive as possible, sport must be understood in its broadest sense comprising skateboarding, dancing, martial arts, relaxation, cycling, traditional games, etc. Performance and competition are not fully excluded from S&D projects, but they mainly concentrate on physical activities that offer health benefits, fun or a sense of belonging.
Sport can directly contribute to several SDGs. However, it does not happen automatically and necessitates pedagogical and didactical reasoning. It is essential that progress is measured in a systematic way. Promising S&D interventions must be participatory and respectful of all stakeholders. Grassroots projects (bottom-up), sport governing bodies, governments and donors (top-down) as well as intermediaries such as academia or the media are needed as catalysts for sustainable development and empowerment through sport.