The United Nations System-Wide Action Plan on youth acknowledges the critical role of young people in fostering creative and innovative solutions to current challenges, and in driving positive social change. UNESCO works with young people and is committed to accompanying them to work together, participate fully in the development of their societies, eradicate poverty and inequality, and foster a culture of peace.
In this context, UNESCO assists Member States in linking youth and sport programmes as an integral part of their development priorities. It serves as a bridge between youth and sport policymaking and programming.
Substantively, it focuses on two aspects:
- the advantage of sport in leveraging challenges of social development; and
- the contribution of sport to the attainment of the SDGs, especially those that relate to healthcare (SDG 3), education (SDG 4), gender equality (SDG 5), social inclusion/inequalities (SDG 10), and peace and security (SDG 16).
Sports is particularly key to youth development. Physical education, physical activity, and sport, in general, contribute to the development of soft skills and impart values such as teamwork, solidarity, and respect, all of which are crucial to building peaceful and cohesive societies.
The Kazan Action Plan recognizes the importance of this dimension and also emphasizes a holistic approach that ties youth empowerment with gender and sports.
Inspired by the Kazan Action Plan, the UNESCO Youth and Sport Task Force was created to establish a platform that could facilitate Youth involvement in the decision-making process. This task force provides young leaders with a safe place to discuss issues such as sport and the SDGs, prevention of violent extremism (PVE), non-communicable diseases (NCDs), gender equality and climate action.