A Shared Vision - UNESCO and Laureus partnership will lead the way on social development through sport

A collaboration agreed ahead of the Laureus World Sports Awards in Paris brings together two complementary institutions with a common goal – to use the power of sport to change the world
By Sean Fitzpatrick, Chairman of Laureus Sport for Good, and Gabriela Ramos, Assistant Director-General for the Social and Human Sciences of UNESCO
The collaboration between Laureus Sport for Good and UNESCO epitomises the way we should be delivering social development through sport, from local communities to global institutions and across borders: in partnership.

As representatives of both Laureus and UNESCO we both recognise that the achievement of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) requires a concerted alliance between inter-governmental organisations, governments, non-governmental organisations, and private sector entities.

The partnership between our two institutions has been a long time coming, and we are proud to see it come to fruition in a tangible partnership agreement based on fundamentally three different pillars:

We share aspirations. Both UNESCO and Laureus have committed to promoting and delivering on a number of the SDGs, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which envisages “a world of universal respect for human rights and human dignity, the rule of law, justice, equality and non-discrimination”. It is a blueprint for where we would all like the world to be in 17 different key areas, such as Education, Health, Gender Equality and many more. Both institutions are aligned with these aspirations. 

We complement each other. Through this partnership, UNESCO and Laureus combine forces and actively collaborate, bringing our individual competencies and networks to contribute in an effective manner to achieving the SDGs. 

UNESCO is the UN’s agency that promotes peace through education, culture, science and sport! As such it plays a special role in the promotion of sport for development, ranging from hosting the World Conference of Sport Ministers (“MINEPS”) and the Intergovernmental Committee of Physical Education and Sport (“CIGEPS”) to setting and supporting the UNESCO Charter on Physical Education, Physical Activity and Sport and the Kazan Action Plan. UNESCO is the leader and custodian of global policy frameworks, convenes governments and works through educational systems. And in 2021, UNESCO launched the global Fit for Life programme to help bring the global commitments to life. UNESCO is also the custodian of the Antidoping Convention and ensures integrity in the world of sport. 

Laureus Sport for Good is a cornerstone of the sport for development movement and works in communities and with hundreds of non-governmental and corporate partners throughout the world in grant making, technical assistance, research, and sector building. Laureus Sport for Good is supported and endorsed by the Laureus World Sports Awards, more than 70 Laureus Academy Members and more than 200 Laureus Ambassadors, past and present elite athletes, reaching or having reached the highest echelons of their sports. 

In addition, both UNESCO and Laureus believe in the power of using a bottom-up approach, complementing and reinforcing each other’s efforts to create an impact stronger, wider, and deeper than the sum of its parts.

We trust each other. In the end, partnerships only work if they are based on trust and transparency, and the Letter of Intent we signed on May 8, 2023 ahead of the Laureus World Sports Awards in Paris, France, represents our fundamental commitment to trust and to work with each other.

Going forward, our first very practical steps are to collaborate programmatically in Paris and Delhi, to collaborate around impact measurement in sport and Sport for Development as well as in research, and to collaborate on policy development and convening of stakeholders across multiple sectors to mobilise global support for sport, physical education and sport for development. 

More than 20 years ago, at the first Laureus World Sports Awards, Laureus’ first patron, Nelson Mandela, said that ‘sport has the power to change the world’. Today, we put pen to paper to outline our intentions with a collaboration to ensure that those words ring true in communities around the world. We know there will be much more to come.

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