Celebrating sport as a powerful tool for at-risk youth development

6 April 2017 - Four years ago, the United Nations General Assembly declared 6 April the International Day of Sport for Development and Peace (IDSDP). This annual celebration recognizes the power of sport to drive social development and promote tolerance, respect and social inclusion - areas reflected in UNODC's own work under the Doha Declaration Global Programme.

As the lead United Nations organization to combat and prevent crime and drug use, UNODC recently launched a unique initiative, making the link between sport, life-skills development and crime prevention. Through building on the wide reach, positive values and popularity among youth that sport has, the organization uses this as a vehicle for transferring life-skills to young people that live in crime-prone neighbourhoods. 

This work recognizes that sport can provide positive experiences for youth and promote a sense of belonging, fair play and respect. Indeed, under the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the contribution that sport can make to the empowerment of communities as a whole, including the particular contribution it makes towards the empowerment of youth, is implicitly underlined. This recognition of the role of sport for social progress offers the United Nations an opportunity to continue joint action to promote sport as a powerful enabler of the Sustainable Development Goals.

The design of UNODC's sports-based life-skills training programme - Line Up Live Up - is based on strong existing evidence that life-skills training, delivered by trained trainers, can offer an important opportunity for allowing youth to increase their social and emotional competencies and move away from involvement in violence, crime or drug use. Although sport as such is not necessarily a prevention tool, by incorporating life skills, such as increasing self-awareness and coping with emotions, in physical training, it has the potential to become a powerful vehicle to address important risk factors for crime and violence, especially among youth.

The initiative addresses multiple risk factors within a broader range of activities, starting from the individual through life-skills transfer in sport settings, non-formal education and youth empowerment, and expanding to the social domains through sport-inspired awareness-raising and community mobilization actions.

On this International Day of Sport for Development and Peace, UNODC renews its commitment to working with partners and countries to empower youth and prevent them from becoming involved in crime and drugs by building on sport as a powerful tool for social good.

Additional information:

2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development

Doha Declaration Global Programme

International Day of Sport for Development and Peace

Sports against Youth Crime