Press Releases

    25 May 2005

    Time Is Right To Include Sport in Work to Reach Millennium Development Goals, Deputy Secreteray-General Tells Meeting on Sport for Development and Peace

    NEW YORK, 24 May (UN Headquarters) -- Following is the text of remarks, as delivered today by Deputy Secretary-General Louise Fréchette at a meeting of the International Working Group on Sport for Development and Peace:

    I am delighted to welcome you all to the United Nations for what I thinks is a very exciting subject.

    It is a subject that is very much in line with the goals and work of the United Nations:  I am referring here to the use of sport as a tool to promote and achieve development, health and peace.

    I am particularly happy to speak to you about sport as a tool to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

    We meet during a special year for all of us.  Not only has 2005 been declared the International Year of Sport and Physical Education by the General Assembly.

    And not only does it mark the 60th anniversary of the United Nations’ founding at the end of the Second World War.

    But this is also a year in which we are thinking ahead, and engaging in a constructive debate about the future:  how to defeat poverty; how to build a collective security system able to meet our common threats; and how to increase respect for human dignity in every land. 

    This September, world leaders will meet to discuss those questions.  And they will conduct a five-year review of the implementation of the Millennium Declaration -- the document that established the Millennium Development Goals.

    All of us involved with development have an unprecedented global agenda in the MDGS -- a blueprint for building a better world in the 21st century.

    Ranging from halving extreme poverty to halting the spread of HIV/AIDS and providing universal primary education -- all by the target date of 2015 -- the goals represent a set of simple but powerful objectives that every man and woman in the street, from New York to New Delhi, can easily understand and support.

    But this year, in many ways, the task will be much tougher than when the goals were adopted in the year 2000.  Instead of setting targets, this time leaders must decide how to achieve them.  They must decide on a plan to achieve the MDGs.

    Reaching the goals will require all our innovation and creativity.  I am convinced the time is right to find ways of including sport more systematically in our work to reach them.

    Over several years, we have seen a growing understanding of the role that sports can play in changing peoples’ lives for the better -- and those of young people in particular.

    We have seen examples of how sport can build self-esteem, leadership skills, community spirit, and bridges across ethnic or communal divides.

    We have seen how it can channel energies away from aggression or self-destruction, and into learning and self-motivation.

    Let us build on that understanding.  Let us make the most of well-designed sport programmes as a cost-effective way to contribute more widely to health, education and development.

    Many of our United Nations agencies, like United Nations Children's Fund and the Office of the High Commissioner for Refugees, are already integrating sport into their programmes.

    We have found that sport can contribute to fighting the spread of disease, by reaching out to otherwise hard to reach populations, and providing positive role-models.  It can help remove the stigma surrounding those living with HIV/AIDS.  It can promote safe lifestyle choices.  It can be a tool in mobilization for immunization.

    Sport can promote gender equality and empower women and girls, by helping them build confidence and improving their interpersonal and negotiation skills. 

    Sport can provide powerful support for formal and informal education, by building up mental and physical motivation and focus.  As an effective communication tool, it can encourage respect for the environment.

    Sport can also be a catalyst for economic growth.  The sports industry, the training of coaches and the hosting of large sports events all provide opportunities for employment. 

    And sport offers endless opportunities for innovative partnerships. This International Working Group on Sport for Development and Peace is an excellent example -- countries from the developed and developing world, international non-governmental organizations, and UN agencies coming together to discuss issues of common concern, and to build on the positive role sport can play in contributing to development.

    Friends, I am convinced that, if all of us play to our individual strengths in making sport work for the Millennium Development Goals, we can make a winning team.

    In that spirit, I thank you every one of you for your commitment to our common mission.  I wish you a most successful outcome to this meeting.

    Thank you very much.

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