UNITED NATIONS GENERAL ASSEMBLY
28 November 2012
Item 12: Sport for peace and development
Statement by Mr Peter Stone
Permanent Mission of Australia to the United Nations
Australia is committed to the principles of sport for development and peace and to the role the United Nations can play in furthering these principles. We welcome the report of the Secretary-General on this subject introduced this morning and would like to take this opportunity to thank the Secretary-General’s Special Adviser on Sport for Development and Peace, Mr Willfried Lemke for his ongoing efforts to promote the UN’s work in this field.
We would also like to thank Monaco for introducing the resolution before us today. Australia is pleased to co-sponsor this resolution.
Sport’s popularity, its capacity as a communication platform and its ability to connect people make it a tool that can be used to meet a range of development objectives, including contributing to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
Australia, with a reputation as a sporting nation, is well placed to use sport as a vehicle to contribute to targeted development outcomes. The Australian Sports Outreach Program supports major programs in 7 countries and provides grants for smaller activities in over 40 countries in Africa, the Caribbean, Asia and the Pacific.
The Australian Government’s approach to using sport to meet development objectives identifies specific development outcomes in two key areas where we believe we can make a real difference and deliver real results.
First, in reducing the risk of non-communicable diseases. NCDs, such as heart disease, diabetes and stroke, place a significant burden on health systems in developing countries already struggling to cope, and they reduce productivity and household income—keeping poor people poor. Sport can play a powerful role in addressing the risk factors causing NCDs, including physical inactivity, unhealthy diets and harmful tobacco and alcohol use.
In March 2012, Australia in collaboration with the World Health Organization and the Secretariat of the Pacific Community convened a ‘Healthy Islands through Sport’ forum in Brisbane. This regional meeting of senior officials of Pacific Ministries of Health and Sport aimed to facilitate ongoing collaboration and multi-sectoral action to address the risk factors that cause non-communicable diseases.
Second, Australian Government programs emphasise the role of sport in enhancing the lives of people with disability. Sport can foster the inclusion and well-being of persons with disabilities and facilitate social inclusion For instance, Australian activities have been delivered to increase community awareness about people with disability in Fiji where the ‘Inspiring Fijians’ rugby team – a combined rugby team from Fiji’s special schools – playing in front of large crowds and inclusive community sports festivals have helped promote more positive attitudes towards people with disability.
Australia also has a number of programs to address the involvement of women and girls in sport-related activities. This includes the Sport Leadership Grants for Women which provide opportunities for training and skills development to enable women to take on leadership and decision making roles in sport.
Australia recognises the need for all parties around the world to be vigilant in protecting the integrity of sport. Issues such as doping in sport and illegal sports betting have great potential to undermine the ability of sport to be used as a vehicle for development.