How Sport Can Promote Sustainable Development - Finance in Common Summit 2021

What contribution can sport make to sustainable development and which actors are or should be involved? During the second Finance in Common Summit (FiCS) on 19 and 20 October, the thematic session "Scaling-up Public Development Bank's Sport for Sustainable Development programs" shed light on the impact sport can have on sustainable development, economic growth and the transformation of societies. It further illustrated the progress and achievements of the “Coalition Sustainable Development through Sport” which was launched at the FiCS 2020 to promote investments in sport and sustainable sport infrastructure projects as part of development projects.

Coalition’s members share the core belief that physical activity, physical education, and sport are powerful levers for sustainable development. The Coalition’s ambition is to expand over time by bringing in more Public Development Banks (PDBs) and by fostering partnerships with stakeholders from the private sector, civil society, governments, and academia.

The panel was moderated by Marco Battaglia (Head of Communication and Engagement, Cassa Depositi e Prestiti or CDP) and consisted of members of the Coalition who spoke from different perspectives about the Coalition's achievements:

Takeshi Matsuyama (Senior Director, Operations Strategy Department, JICA) reported on the achievements of the first year of the Coalition. The Coalition has set up two Working Groups (WG) and a coordination Secretariat to develop a roadmap of concrete actions. WG 1 deals with the topic of "Investing in sustainable sport infrastructure projects & development projects”. WG 2 aims at leveraging the power of sport to achieve the SDGs.

The General Coordinator of the Organizing Committee of the Youth Olympic Games 2026, Ibrahima Wade, illustrated the legacy and transformation plan for the Youth Olympic Games Dakar 2026 with a focus on investment and infrastructure projects, which are a ‘strong vector for social cohesion’. He emphasised that sport could make an important contribution to social development among children and young people.

Axel Klaphake (Director Economic and Social Development, Digitalisation, GIZ) reported on the successful work of GIZ in the S4D sector and highlighted the importance of capacity development and -in the case of sustainable infrastructure projects– the necessity of participatory approaches: ‚Together with our partners we have reached around 1.3 million children and young people in almost 40 countries and trained over 8,000 coaches and instructors. We developed capacities on all levels and supported constructing and renovating sustainable sports grounds as safe spaces for all. S4D unites partners to build sustainable, equitable and inclusive communities.’ He emphasised the power of sport to contribute to SDGs and reiterated GIZs commitment as a strong alliance partner in the coalition.  

The next Speaker, Andrew Parson (President, International Paralympic Committee) spoke about the power of para-sport as a tool for social inclusion and stressed the importance of partnerships to create change.

Gabriela Ramos (Assistant Director-General for Social and Human Science, UNESCO) emphasised the need for data and impact measurement in the sport and development sector. This allows to identify existing needs and shortcomings and demonstrate the impact of S4D programmes, which is an important decision-making factor for donors when it comes to funding. Furthermore, she reported on the model "Social Return on Investment", which can play an important role in sustainable sport infrastructure projects.

The last contribution came from Irene Mariel Sabra (Lead Specialist IDB Lab) who presented the lab and gave an insight into the Latin-American perspective. IDB Lab is the innovation laboratory of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) Group. Through innovative approaches, including sport, development challenges are being addressed to create new opportunities for poor and vulnerable groups in Latin America and the Caribbean.

In summary, all panellists agreed on the positive effect of sport as a tool for sustainable development and reinforced their commitment to scale up efforts through the coalition.