The Secretary-General of the Commonwealth has outlined how sport can be harnessed to boost international development by “changing perceptions and altering attitudes”.
Speaking at the Commonwealth Games Federation General Assembly in Kigali, Rwanda, Patricia Scotland said the “wide appeal and reach” of sport can be used to “accelerate progress” in areas such as gender equality and political inclusivity.
She said: “With the spirit of goodwill and through the respect and understanding which are signature characteristics of the Commonwealth Sport Movement, mutual encouragement flourishes across boundaries of regional and national affiliation or other allegiances of culture or identity.”
The Secretary-General added: “I am strongly committed personally in my determination to mobilise additional resources to ensure more communities throughout the Commonwealth can benefit from the positive contribution the most popular of our Commonwealth sports can make.”
The Secretary-General’s speech featured on day four of the event which:
- Saw the General Assembly and Strategic Forum demonstrate the Commonwealth sports movement’s vision and commitment to creating peaceful, sustainable and prosperous communities through sport. This vision is in line with the Commonwealth Secretariat’s strategic objective to enhance sports contribution to sustainable development, health, and building peaceful and just societies.
- Saw a refresh of Transformation 2022, the Commonwealth Games Federation Strategic Plan. This plan sets out the strategic priorities for CGF through to 2022. The refresh has an enhanced focus on releasing the collective impact of sport in the Commonwealth on creating peaceful, sustainable and prosperous communities.
The President of the Commonwealth Games Federation, Louise Martin, said: “All of us across the Commonwealth and the Commonwealth Sports Movement must work hard to shift the dial on human rights and mega sporting events.
“Put simply, we are 100 per cent committed to upholding the ideals and principles that underpin our respect and protection of human rights in all that we do. It starts with our vision – to create peaceful, sustainable and prosperous communities through sport.
“It is this mantra that guides the joined-up vision of Commonwealth sport. Indeed, it is a vision that underpins the Commonwealth itself – a voluntary association of 71 nations and territories. Among our membership are some of the world’s largest and smallest countries, from India, with over 1.2 billion people to Nauru with a population of 10,000.
Our combined population of 2.4 billion represents a third of the world’s total population. More than 60 per cent of Commonwealth citizens are young people aged under 30.”
The 2022 Commonwealth Games was singled out by delegates as an example of how sport can contribute towards the Commonwealth’s values and principles.
The Games in Birmingham, UK, will feature more women’s medals events than men’s and will see the largest para-sport programme in Games history.