The President of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), Jacques Rogge, today opened the first joint forum between the IOC and the United Nations (UN) at The Olympic Museum in Lausanne. The event, titled “The Importance of Partnership”, brings together sporting officials and UN representatives in order to leverage the IOC’s recently obtained UN observer status and strengthen cooperation in the field of development through sport.
Speaking at the opening session after Wilfried Lemke, Special Adviser to the UN Secretary General on Sport for Development and Peace, and Mario Pescante, IOC Vice-President and Permanent Representative of the IOC to the UN, President Rogge said: “The IOC and the Olympic Movement have a social responsibility to bring sport and its values to all fields of society. If sport on its own cannot drive this agenda, it can however exchange and partner with those whose responsibility and expertise is to make peace and drive national development, such as the UN.”
“The IOC and the UN have enjoyed very strong ties for many decades”, Rogge continued. “In recognition of the role sport can play in contributing to a better world, the IOC was granted observer status by the UN General Assembly last year. The aim of this Forum is to generate further action on the ground that contributes to the achievement of the UN Millennium Development Goals. We cannot change the world but we believe that, through sport, we can make better citizens”, he concluded.
The Forum, which will be held today and tomorrow, will be looking at the following areas:
- What (else) sport can do to support the Millennium Development Goals
- Targeting youth in development
- Gender equality
- Healthy lifestyle and promotion
- Peace-building and humanitarian assistance and actions.
- The way forward
In his opening speech, Mario Pescante said: “For the first time in modern history, sport has a voice within the most important of all international institutions, the UN. At a time when the world is faced with real threats, and the survival of nations and of mankind is linked to behavioural change, sport is being recognised as an important element in the search for solutions. This Forum, over and above an in-depth exchange of ideas, gives us the possibility to indentify projects and develop common policies in favour of young people, women, the disabled, disease prevention, human solidarity, and the fight against crime and violence. But the main objective cannot be any other than to give our contribution to sustaining the UN’s efforts in ensuring a peaceful world.”
Speaking on behalf of the UN, Wilfried Lemke said: “This forum is so important, in that it not only serves as a venue for discussing approaches to achieving the Millennium Development Goals, it is also an example of us realising Goal number 8, which emphasises the creation of global partnerships. Through collaboration and partnerships between the UN System and the IOC, we can use sport to play a crucial role in achieving each of these important goals.”
About the IOC’s activities in sport and development
As the leader of the Olympic Movement, the IOC strives to act as a catalyst for collaboration with the ultimate objective of making the world a better and more peaceful place through sport.
By using sport as a tool, the IOC and its partners implement various activities across the globe in fields such as humanitarian assistance, peace-building, education, gender equality, the environment and the fight against HIV/AIDS, hence contributing to the achievement of the UN Millennium Development Goals.
The most recent project example is the creation of the first ever Olympic Youth Development Centre in Lusaka, Zambia, which was inaugurated last week. The multi-purpose complex will not only push sports development in Zambia, but also provide community activities, health services and Olympic education with a strong focus on reaching out to young people. The successful set-up of the centre is thanks to a unique collaboration model between the IOC, the NOC of Zambia, the government, six International Federations and national sports federations. The IOC is currently investigating the possibility of setting up similar centres on other continents.
Last year’s decision to grant the IOC UN observer status pays tribute to these efforts and is a sign of the strong bonds between the IOC and the UN, which share the same philosophy and values.
About the UN Millennium Development Goals
The eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) – which range from halving extreme poverty to halting the spread of HIV/AIDS and providing universal primary education, all by the target date of 2015 – form a blueprint agreed to by all the world’s countries and all the world’s leading development institutions. They have galvanised unprecedented efforts to meet the needs of the world’s poorest.
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