World's Ministers of Sport meet to discuss inclusion, integrity and sustainability
Sports ministers and stakeholders from 116 countries meet in Kazan this week to agree on a concise action plan for developing sports strategies
There is a long way from the prestigious Korston Hotel in Kazan, the capital of the Russian republic of Tatarstan, to the Indian teenage girl whose parents prohibit her to play cricket, the Argentine goalkeeper who let the ball pass in order to pay his debt to gangsters, or the Nepalese maid in Abu Dhabi who will never be given the opportunity to enter the local gym.
Nevertheless, these people and many more deprived of the right to play, physical education and sport will be on the agenda when UNESCO gathers ministers, leading government officials and stakeholders in sport from 116 countries from 13-15 July in Kazan.
The official name of the gathering is “The sixth International Conference of Ministers and Senior Officials Responsible for Physical Education and Sport, MINEPS VI”. Whether the delegates will be able to improve the situation for those in need, is yet to be seen, but the ambitions are higher than at previous meetings and reflect a growing engagement from governments in the area of sport.
The conference’s main purpose is to assess the global developments in sport and guide governments and policy makers in how to make effective policies in the areas of physical education and sport.
Among the expected outputs of the meeting in Kazan is an ‘Action Plan’ outlining how to follow up on the Berlin Declaration from the MINEPS V meeting held in Berlin in 2013 and on the revised International Charter of Physical Education, Physical Activity and Sport. Both these documents are integrated with the UN Agenda 2030/Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
“Whereas the Berlin Declaration was a set of recommendations, this time governments and other sport policy stakeholders wished to provide a clear framework presenting a concise action plan for the work with sports policy,” says Philipp Müller-Wirth, UNESCO’s Executive Officer for Sport to Play the Game. He refers to the “Kazan Action Plan” that is expected to be adopted by the participating UNESCO member states.
“With the sport policy follow-up framework of ‘Kazan Action Plan’, we have succeeded in linking the sport policy issues with the UN 2030 Agenda. This gives governments one document to refer to which will make it easier for the policy-makers to invest in sport programmes,” Müller-Wirth says.
The Kazan Action Plan also sets out five concrete actions in the field of sport ethics, inclusion and sustainability, which the member states will commit to by adopting the document:
- Elaborate an advocacy tool presenting evidence-based arguments for investments in physical education, physical activity and sport.
- Develop common indicators for measuring the contribution of physical education, physical activity and sport to prioritized SDGs and targets.
- Unify and further develop international standards supporting sport ministers’ interventions in the field of sport integrity (in correlation with the International Convention against Doping in Sport).
- Conduct a feasibility study on the establishment of a Global Observatory for Women, Sport, Physical Education and Physical Activity.
- Develop a clearinghouse for sharing information according to the sport policy follow-up framework developed for MINEPS VI.
“The five actions in the plan make the document very accessible and we have put a lot of emphasis on describing how countries can implement a sports policy,” Müller-Wirth says. He underlines that implementing these actions all the way from grassroots level to elite sport is important in order to achieve the full potential of sport as a means for sustainable development.
According to Müller-Wirth, several countries have already indicated that they are ready to use the policy framework and actions to refine and develop their national sports policy strategy.
Play the Game in Kazan
The Danish Institute for Sports Studies and Play the Game will also travel to Kazan and exhibit a poster on the National Sports Governance Observer project. Editor Søren Bang and international director Jens Sejer Andersen will be the delegates.
“The conference is a unique chance for us to reach out to a great number of nations outside Europe and offer them the opportunity to use our governance tool at home,” Play the Game’s international director, Jens Sejer Andersen, says.
He will have a busy schedule in Kazan, since UNESCO has invited him to speak on two occasions. Thursday 13 July he will be a panellist in an Expert Forum on sports integrity, and two days later he will address all the delegates in a keynote on the same issue.
“It is telling that when we made our first Play the Game conference exactly 20 years ago, all integrity issues, even doping, were handled as if they were caused only by bad individuals. Today, challenges like doping, corruption, match-fixing, harassment and overspending are also recognised as systemic issues which require worldwide cooperation. We hope MINEPS VI will give an impulse to further strengthen this cooperation,” Andersen states.