This past June 5th and 6th I had the opportunity to represent Senda Athletics to attend the third International Forum on Sport for Peace and Development at the UN headquarters in New York City.
The forum was started in 2009 at the Olympic Museum in Lausanne, Switzerland. The forum focuses on how sport can contribute to peace and development in the world, centering on themes such as promoting education and healthy lifestyles through sport and advocating a peace culture among young people.
Among the people who attend were UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon, IOC President Jacques Rogge, UN Special Advisor Wilfried Lemke, and other important figures from the Sport for Development and Peace Movement.
After Ban-Ki Moon opened the forum, I had the chance to meet him, and tell him briefly about Senda's work. I even got him to sign a Senda limited edition VOLTA Premier ball for our office space! It was great to see that the most important figure at the United Nation took the time to open an event that addressed the role of sports to improve communities. This builds even more credibility for the growing field of Sports for Development.
To be honest, the rhythm of the forum's sessions and some of the presentations were a bit slow, and included ceremonial phrases and statements that were new to me. Perhaps that is just part of the UN's protocol, and a way of hosting presentations when you have so many government representatives from over 80 countries.
Perhaps, instead of the forum being dominated by "one way" presentations, with a brief time for Q&A, it would have been useful to have more time for unstructured sessions, or even four or five smaller "un-conferences" in which smaller groups of attendees get to network, discuss their goals while using sports for development and peace, as well as share challenges and opportunities. This might present more opportunities to explore how different organizations, businesses, and governments might be able to collaborate on sports initiatives, and work together to learn best practices that have been proven to work effectively.
Maybe that will be the case in 2015, when the next forum takes place in a location to be determined.
Overall it was a very interesting experience: I was proud to represent Senda, and humbled to have the opportunity to share the work that we do with the help of our customers and nonprofit partners. Below is an interview from the UN's TV crew, which covered the event, and asked me to describe the work of some of the organization Senda partners with!