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Luke Dowdney

Founder & CEO

ORGANISATION: Fight for Peace

Luke Dowdney MBE is the founder and director of Fight for Peace (FFP), a global youth development NGO that delivers primary-, secondary- and tertiary-level interventions to reduce youth violence. FFP was established in 2000 in the Complexo da Mare favela in Rio de Janeiro, as a community-based response to the arming and employment of young people by drug-trafficking gangs. Today, FFP Academies in Rio and London work directly with over 3,000 young people annually. The FFP Global Alliance consists of over 140 organisations across 25 countries trained in the FFP approach, collectively reaching 240,000 young people. FFP also has offices in Kingston and Cape Town, which are implementing community-wide collective-impact responses to urban youth violence in partnership with government, funders and local entities that can be scaled to other cities facing chronic resiliency challenges around youth inclusion and violence. 

Fight for Peace has won several international awards, including: Best One Hundred NGOs in Brazil by ÉPOCA/Instituto Doar (2017); EMpower Champion of Youth Award (2016); Beyond Sport for Conflict Resolution Award (2015); Leader in Sports Management at 5th Leaders of Brazil Awards (2015); Stars Impact Award for Education (2014); Project Oracle Annual Evidence Award (2014); and Beyond Sport Innovation through Sport Award (2013).

Dowdney also served as CEO and founder of LUTA Sportswear. Established with private equity funds, LUTA was the world’s first “life-changing sportswear” brand; it produces high-end performance apparel and gives half its profits to FFP. In 2014, LUTA Sportswear was sold to Reebok in a sale that gave all shareholders – including the charity – a financial return and forged a long-lasting income stream to FFP from Reebok’s Combat Training Division.

An amateur boxer in England, Scotland and Japan, Dowdney was captain of his university boxing team. In 1995, he won the British Universities Light-Middleweight Championship. He went on to coach youth boxers at FFP between 2000 and 2013.

In June 2004, Dowdney was awarded an MBE (Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire) by Queen Elizabeth II for “services to the prevention of child exploitation and violence in Brazil.” In 2006, he became an Ashoka Fellow and in April 2007 won the “Sport for Good Award” at the Laureus World Sports Awards in Barcelona. In 2008, Tony Blair invited Dowdney to be an Ambassador for Beyond Sport, and the following year, he was made a Young Global Leader by The Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship, a sister organisation of the World Economic Forum. Dowdney was awarded the Beyond Sport Innovation Through Sport Award in 2013.

Dowdney graduated with a masters’ degree in Social Anthropology from the University of Edinburgh, where he wrote his dissertation on violence and the lives of Brazilian street children. He is the author of ‘Children of the Drug Trade’, a case study of children in organised armed violence that focuses on the role of minors in Rio de Janeiro’s drug factions, as well as ‘Neither War nor Peace’, which compares the role of children and youth in armed groups in 10 non-war countries across four continents. In 2014, he was nominated by Edinburgh University to its Senatus Academicus and received the degree of Doctor Honoris Causa in recognition of his work.


The speakers

Using the unique power of sport to bring people together, the Olympism in Action Forum sees a range of global players, including Olympic Movement stakeholders, athletes, private and public sector leaders, NGO representatives, academics, artists and the media come together to talk on topical contemporary issues. Chosen because of their ability to effect change and their wide range of sometimes differing opinions, the speakers will lead lively debates and seek to challenge received wisdom to inspire new ways of thinking.

Meet the speakers.
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