Blog: Using Sport to promote reform on physical, mental health and climate change

This year is a particularly important year for the Commonwealth, following the 2022 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Kigali, Rwanda, where Heads of Government declared 2023 the Year of Youth and the Year of Peace for the Commonwealth.

By Lin Sambili, Project Manager, Sport for Development and Peace

The Commonwealth values ​​young people and views them as great assets with a proven ability to champion change and cultivate peace and prosperous societies.

Young people make up more than 60% of the 2.5 billion people in the Commonwealth. The well-being and development of this youth cohort in all walks of life is essential to the success of the Commonwealth and its 56 member states.

Common heritage

Sport is an important shared heritage. It has a unique unifying power that, when used well, allows individuals and communities to fulfill their potential with dignity and equality in a healthy environment.

Sport’s unprecedented global reach is a powerful platform that can be used to address many of the global challenges we face today, and in particular can be a useful tool in strengthening health and other societal systems that are struggling to adapt to recover from the effects of COVID 19.

The pandemic has reversed much of the progress made in sport and other related sectors, creating a global physical and mental health crisis, particularly felt by young people and other marginalized groups.

Given the Commonwealth’s rich diversity in geography, language and culture, as well as the complicated trade routes and resources affected by the pandemic, there is a strong need to use sport to help create healthier societies and a healthier planet.

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Sustainable development

This year’s annual Commonwealth Debate on Sport and Sustainable Development will focus on how a ‘The compassionate sport sector should enable accountability for a healthy mind, body and planet.with experts discussing what needs to be done to ensure sport can provide leadership and balance in future-proofing the well-being of people and the planet.

At the political level, the Ministerial Declaration adopted at the 10th Commonwealth Sport Ministers’ Meeting recognized the important interplay between sport and several areas of social outcomes, including health and well-being, as well as effective disease prevention interventions. Ministers endorsed the need for a more cross-sectoral approach to harness the power of sport to help countries achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.

Global, the most recent release of the report Sport for mental health at the University of Edinburgh’s WISH Conference in Doha 2022, championing the links between sport, climate change and mental health, in line with the UN ISDP 2023 proposed theme of ‘Scoring for People and the Planet’.

Recognizing the challenges in this area, the Commonwealth Secretariat, as part of the Year of Youth and driving our work on sport and the SDG indicator framework, is now beginning to address climate change in sport through key partnerships, advocacy, legislation and development to support global efforts to combat climate change.

Mind, Body and Planet

We are committed to advancing a compassionate sport sector for a healthy mind, body and planet by:

  • Promoting the longstanding work of the Commonwealth Advisory Body on Sport (CABOS) by establishing a dedicated working group dedicated to cross-sectoral approaches and partnerships;
  • Further developing our partnership with Sport and Development and the Australian Government and using the Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) toolkit to foster a culture of learning and knowledge sharing on a range of topics including metal health, physical health and climate change;
  • Prioritizing the sport and climate resilience needs of our small island developing States (SIDs), as 33 of the world’s 42 small states are Commonwealth members; And
  • Promoting the work of our partners, academically and politically, who have invested in creating a compassionate sports sector and how this is leading to a much healthier and inclusive world.
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The 7th Commonwealth Debate on Sport and Sustainable Development will take place in person and online on 4thApril 2023 at London’s Marlborough House.

Find out more and register to participate

media contact

  • Amy Coles Communications Officer, Communications Department, Commonwealth Secretariat
  • E-mail

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