Next Step Conference in Delhi in February 2014 – A Review
A little more than a month has passed since the Next Step Conference 2014 of UNOSDP took place in Delhi splendidly hosted by Magic Bus. Perhaps a good time to recap on the results with a view from a little distance.
Next Step 2014 aimed to be a forum to facilitate the exchange of ideas and concrete ways in which to make effective Sport for Development programmes. By providing a platform the intent was to bring together the perspectives of sports for development that stretch beyond the sports field and further global partnerships for development. To forestall the core result: Most of it has been achieved. Around 400 stakeholders of the regional and international Sports-For-Development scene came together for four intense conference days, reflecting the different stakeholder groups such as grassroots-level practitioners, students, academics, public or governmental institutions, sports associations, sports women and sports men, intermediates, institutional funders and corporates. All these protagonists formed that vibrant and complementary mesh leading to a productive and unconventional get-together across roles and levels. No wonder that there were a few key findings to take home:
Sports-For-Development has entered the growth phase
The conference presented multiple impressive project examples from different parts of the world. Most of them are using similar programme principles. Many new projects evolve and existing projects replicate or scale into new geographies. One can state that S4D has become a global “market standard” in youth development. And it is perhaps the strongest developmental approach existing to holistically educate and empower children, groups, societies and whole countries. No other approach is comparable in terms of efficiency and scalability.
Sports-For-Peace is not leveraged as a methodology
We are just beginning to understand the potential of sports based programmes in post conflict contexts. A few pioneer projects are source of valuable learnings and inspiration. A comprehensive base of empiric and academic information is not yet available. Compared to S4D only a little space was given to S4P on the Next Step 2014. On the contrary the number of trouble spots in the world seems not to lessen at all.
Existing Limitations and Next Steps
The conference was a conversation on existing limitations in the sector and possible steps to overcome them. The perception from corridor talks between the conference sessions was, that many and especially new or smaller organizations face similar problems. The institutionalization of a programme in the seed phase and later its scaling in the growth phase typically involve big challenges. On the other hand it is very desirable that new and local initiatives evolve and become an integral part of the sector. Only in this way the sector is constantly nourished with new impulses, local access and expertise as well as new, inspiring and hardworking personalities. Resulting questions are: How can collaboration beyond projects, institutions, countries and sectors actively being promoted? How can asymmetric partners in terms of network access, size, resources and influence learn from each other and complement one another? Is there a way to elaborate national and global strategies or recommendations for the S4D sector that provide guidance for setting goals and priorities, for allocating resources, initiating projects and partnerships?