Sport for Development and Peace refers to the intentional use of sport to achieve specific development and peace objectives.

When used effectively, Right To Play believes that sport can contribute to:

Health promotion and disease prevention Sport generates health benefits in two ways — through direct participation in sport and through the use of sport as a platform for communication, education and social mobilization. Research has shown that sport can help to:

  • Prevent and manage non-communicable (chronic) diseases;
  • Prevent and manage infectious diseases;
  • Enhance mental health; and
  • Reduce direct and indirect health costs.

Child and youth development and education
Sport can contribute significantly to efforts to give children a healthy start in life. Sport can help to equip children and youth with the information, skills, personal and social resources, and the support needed to make key life transitions successfully. Research has shown that positive, well-designed, age-appropriate sport and play experiences can help to:

  • Enhance physical health and development;
  • Foster psychosocial health and development;
  • Build life skills and positive values;
  • Help children and youth recover from trauma; and
  • Strengthen education.

Gender empowerment 
A growing body of evidence has begun to establish sport as a viable tool for addressing gender inequity and empowering girls and women. The evidence demonstrates that sport can help to:

  • Enhance girls’ and women’s health and well-being;
  • Foster self-esteem and empowerment;
  • Facilitate social inclusion and integration;
  • Challenge gender norms; and
  • Provide opportunities for leadership and achievement.  

Inclusion of persons with disabilities
Sport helps to improve the inclusion and well-being of persons with disabilities by changing what communities think and feel about persons with disabilities and by changing what persons with disabilities think and feel about themselves. Experience shows that sport can help to:

  • Reduce stigma;
  • Enhance socialization;
  • Promote independence and sport participation;
  • Contribute to empowerment; and
  • Foster greater inclusion.

Social inclusion, conflict prevention and peace-building Sport alone cannot prevent conflict or build peace. However, it can contribute to broader, more comprehensive efforts. Sport helps to build relationships across social, economic and cultural divides and builds a sense of shared identity and fellowship among groups that might otherwise be inclined to view each other with distrust and hostility. While evaluative evidence on sport’s use to meet peace objectives is limited, there is significant anecdotal evidence that sport is being used successfully to:

  • Promote social inclusion;
  • Provide respite in periods of conflict;
  • Build trust and establish bridges between groups in conflict;
  • Build peace in post-conflict situations; and
  • Promote a culture of peace.

Right To Play as a Global Advocate for Sport for Development and Peace

In additional to designing and delivering Sport for Development and Peace programming in some of the most disadvantaged regions in the world, Right To Play also advocates for Sport for Development and Peace at a global level.  Right To Play’s advocacy efforts aim to:

  • Build global awareness about the benefits of sport and play; 
  • Encourage dialogue on Sport for Development and Peace amongst key stakeholders at the government and multi-lateral level; and
  • Promote the inclusion of sport as a tool for development and peace in national and international policy frameworks.

Right To Play believes that advocacy efforts promoting policy change will contribute to sustainability over time.  Advocacy efforts can enhance sustainability by:

  • Ensuring political commitment to the principles of Sport for Development and Peace; 
  • Creating an enabling environment where sport-based development programs can succeed;
  • Ensuring budgets are allocated to support Sport for Development and Peace programs; and
  • Improving collaboration between national governments and non-governmental organizations

 Right To Play has been actively involved in developing and delivering policy recommendations for national governments on how to incorporate sport as a tool for development and peace into their national and international development policies and programs.

Right To Play acted as Secretariat to the UN Inter-Agency Task Force on Sport for Development and Peace from 2002-2004. In 2003 the Task Force released a report promoting the use of sport to achieve United Nations development goals. Click here to view the full report.

From the work of the UN Task Force, the Sport for Development and Peace International Working Group (SDP IWG) was born. Right To Play acted as Secretariat to the SDP IWG from 2004-2008.