Kingston, 31 March 2021 – The Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport, the Honourable Olivia Grange, has told the Fifth Commonwealth Debate on Sport and Sustainable Development that the key to rebuild the sport sector after the covid-19 pandemic is investing in initiatives to mainstream sport and physical activity as part of policy integration across public health, education and economic development.
The Minister was specially invited by the Commonwealth Secretariat to participate in the Debate, a virtual event that took place on March 30, 2021. It is among the leading global policy focused events held to mark International Day of Sport for Development and Peace, celebrated on April 6.
Minister Grange advocated that:
“The focus of investment must be on factors identified in restoring human rights, social inclusion, prevention of Non-Communicable Diseases and enhanced access to the benefits of sport post-covid-19.
“These are the problems emerging from the onset of the pandemic: the sport sector relies extensively on human contact and is disproportionately affected by the pandemic.
“We must rethink the role of sport. There is now a shift in focus to investment in safeguarding policies globally among governments, international bodies and national initiatives strengthening of human rights through and for sport.
“We all agree with the results of research presented by the Commonwealth Secretariat which confirms that ‘sport is effective in generating employment because it is community-based and depends on human interaction. As such, one policy implication is that investing in sport can be an economic tool to help a country reduce unemployment during a recession. This is a valuable insight for the rebuilding the sport sector in the post covid-19 period’ according to the publication.
“Economic prosperity is important for the development of sport as an economic activity. Economic downturns usually result in governments reducing spending on sectors like sport unless there is strong scientific evidence to demonstrate how vital the sport sector is to development of the economy.
“The World Bank’s global economic prospects (2020) fittingly describes ‘covid-19 as the most adverse peacetime shock to the global economy in a century!’ Furthermore, the President of the World Bank Group reminds us that: ‘making the right investments now is vital, and urgently needed to support the recovery and foster resilience. The response to the pandemic crisis today will shape our common future for years to come. We should seize the opportunity to lay the foundations for a durable, equitable, and sustainable global economy.’
“Technology has a role to play in sport, it is a constituent for sport. However, investment in technology cannot by itself be the key to rebuild sport sector post covid-19.
“In the Caribbean and Latin American Region (ECLAC) it is estimated that there will be a contraction of minus 1.8% in regional gross domestic product, which could lead to unemployment in the region rising by 10 percentage points. In 2018-(pre covid era) the WHO reported that NCDs were killing 41 million people each year, equivalent to 71% of all deaths globally.
“To rebuild the sport sector post covid-19, it is clear that we must invest in empirical research and other measurement framework, to demonstrate the contribution of sport the SDGs, while securing the sustainability of the sport sector.
“The lack of adequate evidence-based practice and measurement framework has led to undervaluing the contribution of sport to global and national development.
Let us examine some of the on-going consequences and impact of the covid-19 pandemic as the intervening factor in our lives and societies worldwide.
“The SDGs agenda recognises sport as ‘an important enabler of sustainable development’ and highlights its impact on health, education, social inclusion, women’s empowerment and youth development. The achievement of goals is impacted by pandemic and related policy/regulatory responses.
“Based on the results of the Deloitte Global Millennial Survey (2020), the demands for social justice is transforming the sports world. There is a shifting societal dynamic, with athletes having a stronger voice, demanding action, and playing an even bigger part as role models.
“Sport organisations’ level of commitment to combating social injustice now directly affects their brand, bottom line and business relationships with athletes.”
The Debate is delivered as part of the Commonwealth’s leadership supporting countries as they protect and promote the contribution sport can make to human and social development.