Former UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon on Sport and the UN SDGs

By Maria Bakarat, Dream Together Master Sports Management Programme, Seoul National University South Korea

Sport has simply not reached its full potential in making a difference for a better and sustainable future, yet the mere acknowledgment of the lack thereof sets in motion the budding possibilities that sport can be used as a tool for development.

Former UN (United Nations) Secretary General, Ban Ki-Moon, addressed how the UN announced its intention to actively use sport as a necessary tool during his special lecture entitled “Sport and the UN SDGs,” hosted by the Dream Together Master Sports Management Program on November 5, 2019.

In the Seoul National University Sports Education and Research Building auditorium, which was filled with over 200 students, Mr. Ban stated that:

A lesson I learned as secretary general is that the most important and the most useful tool and mechanism which can really help us together, and which can promote peace, development, and friendship among people is sport.”

As sport cuts across all spheres of human activity and life, it is strongly supported by the UN as an enabler for sustainable development. This is reflected in the UN sustainable development goals (SDGs) announced in 2015, which recognizes the growing contribution of sport to the realization of development and peace.

Mr. Ban encouraged students to “become instruments of national and international change” by improving their skills as sports administrators in order to become successful drivers of social progress and by leveraging the role of sport in the attainment of development objectives.

He also emphasized the need to use sport to improve human life and integrity, stating that sport and physical education were a fundamental right for everyone since 1978, when UNESCO affirmed the power that sport had to enhance social ties and networks.

Mr Ban further stated:

In the uncertainties of the world we currently live in, I believe that sport can serve as an important and particularly cost-effective tool for building resilient healthy societies. Forging great values through dialogue, you have to look beyond yourselves and nationalities to be able to take up the mantle in the development of our world as a global society.”

Mr. Ban, the current chairman of the Ethics Commission of the International Olympic Committee carrying the responsibility of promoting good governance within both the IOC and entire Olympic community, strives to ensure that governments spend more resources on youth development programs through sport.

Praising the relevance of the Dream Together Sports Management Master Program in developing young leaders through a specialized sports management education, he affirmed that such efforts will accelerate the process of sustainable development for a more peaceful and prosperous world.

Fine sentiments indeed and a worthy goal to be aimed for and achieved!