It was a long but empowering journey that took us on a global mission, from Europe to Senegal and Japan, to advocate, educate and promote the powerful role sport and youth play in achieving sustainable development goals.
The Erasmus+ funded initiative “Sport for Sustainable Development” kicked off in 2020, just days before the Covid-19 pandemic changed the course of our lives, and the trajectory of this project. After several online activities, release of the “Score All 17” manual, and at last, youth exchange in Senegal and training course in Japan (2022), the project reached the final stage of the journey – the Sport for Sustainable Development conference.
The conference initiated a discussion about the mega sport events, their implementation according to the sustainability recommendations and the role of young people in organising those events. The moderator Ivana Pranjić invited everyone, speakers and the participants, to actively join the conversation and contribute their part in addressing the challenges;
The official opening kicked off with the welcome speeches from Astrid Guyart, Secretary General of French National Olympic and Sports Committee (CNOSF) and Sara Massini, Secretary General of ENGSO, who emphasised the urgency to unite, include and listen to youth with the aim to contribute to a positive change within our society.
“Young people are the key factor in achieving sustainability and legacy in sport,” highlighted Claire Poole, the founder and CEO of Sport Positive Summit, with her keynote speech on youth and sport.
The presentation of the Sport for Sustainable Development project and its activities, delivered by the project manager Christian Hajj, proved that global youth indeed do carry valuable knowledge and ideas for a more sustainable future.
Young people continued to be the key topic in panel one which based on actual events – Paris 2024, Dakar 2026 Youth Olympics and UEFA championships – discussed the role of youth in mega sport events. Slimane Tirera, Project manager for civic engagement for Paris 2024, Cecile Faye, Secretary General and Project Management Officer for Dakar 2026 YOG and Senegal NOC, Francois Singer, Senior Purpose Partnership Manager at 17Sport, and Anett Fodor, ENGSO Youth Committee member, discussed the role of youth in mega sport events.
Throughout the past three years, the Sport for Sustainable Development project connected young Europeans with youth leaders from Africa and Asia. Etsuko Sone from Japan, Thomas Buchard from France, Leyla Sonko from Senegal and Bence Garamvolgyi from Hungary presented the lessons they have learnt and impact project had on them.
Three experts on sustainability in sport debated the “policy versus action” aspect of the mega sport events in panel two. Iva Glibo, ENGSO Youth Committee member, Jana Janotova, Policy officer and international relations for European Olympic Committeess and Czech Olympic Committee, and Sam Geijer, Researcher at Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences, pointed out that having a policy is not enough. If we are really aiming for a change, sustainable actions must also be implemented.
The conference concluded with ENGSO Youth chair Ugne Chmeliauskaite iniviting everyone to join the action in making a step forward towards a more inclusive, equal, sustainable and healthier world.
We would like to thank the French National Olympic and Sports Committee for a warm welcome and hospitality. The partners of the Sport for Sustainable Development project Hungarian University of Physical Education, Sport and Citizenship, National Olympic Committee of Senegal and Kokushikan University of Japan for their valuable work and contribution to the project and the conference. The speakers and participants of all our Sport for Sustainable Development project activities for joining us and helping us tackle the challenge of youth inclusion and sustainability in sport.