They can all be written on a single football, but they represent global challenges. The 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) shown on the leather polyhedron passed between the speakers at the opening debate of the Finance in Common Summit in Paris symbolize the expectations that development banks need to meet. It shows the power of sport around the world to contribute to the achievement of these goals.
A Tool for Empowerment
Sport “helps people understand each other better”, says Shinichi Kitaoka, President of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA). “It’s a tool for empowerment, peace, equality and economic prosperity”, adds Serge Ekué, President of the West African Development Bank (BOAD), “Sport fields are the only fields our children should be on”.
“Empathy, tolerance, respect… These values carried by sport are the ones we want to promote in life in general”, says Gabriela Ramos, Assistant Director-General for the Social and Human Sciences at UNESCO.
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The speakers during this first session of the Finance in Common Summit, including Thomas Bach (CIO), Andrew Parsons (International Paralympic Committee) and Ibrahima Wade (Dakar 2026), said it loud and clear: sport is a powerful driver but is still not used enough for human and sustainable development. It must do more for education, health, gender equality, access to employment, peace and the ecological transition.
“More sport, more impact!”
Linking Sport and the SDGs
It is for this reason that Rémy Rioux, Chief Executive Officer of AFD, and the President of Paris 2024 ,Tony Estanguet, announced the launch of the “Sport for Development Coalition”, which is committed to increasing financial resources, investments and expertise to build a more sustainable world. A world based on the SDGs. “We want to give sport its rightful place in development”, says the CEO of AFD, with Tony Estanguet adding: “With sport, we have the power to change things.”
The line-up of the Coalition team leaves no doubt as to its ambitions: AFD, West African Development Bank (BOAD), Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), Association of National Development Finance Institutions (DFIs), Member Countries of the Islamic Development Bank (ADFIMI), Latin American Association of Development Financing Institutions (ALIDE) and Germany’s KfW.
On the benches, the Coalition can count on top-class observer members and friends: International Olympic Committee (IOC), International Paralympic Committee (IPC), Organization Committee for the Paris 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games, UNESCO and Germany’s Corporation for International Cooperation (GIZ). During the addresses, the new teammates, with the SDG ball in hand, all hammered home their new rallying cry: More sport, more impact!
A platform, financing, connections
To achieve this objective, and more specifically promote financing and support for projects combining sport and development in Africa, the Coalition will rely on the Sport en Commun platform, which was also unveiled on 11 November. This platform will facilitate networking between sport and development stakeholders and offer a wide range of financing tailored to all project sizes from several types of public and private financing entities.
Sportencommun.org also provides solutions to support project initiators covering the entire project lifecycle: ideas and incubation, deployment and implementation, scaling-up, skills building and training, monitoring and impact measurement.
It’s an initiative is that Amadou Gallo Fall holds dear: “The organizations in the Coalition’s platform will really change the game”, says the President of the Basketball Africa League (BAL), the future pan-African league created in partnership with the NBA and FIBA. “Development through sport is also a way for young people to make something of themselves at home, without having to cross oceans to hope for a better future.”