6th Commonwealth Debate on Sport and Sustainable Development

03 March 2022
Children playing soccer

This year’s debate on Sport and Sustainable Development, one of the seminal events in the sporting calendar, will focus on the timely issue of human rights.

The event, now in its sixth year, is among the leading policy-focused activities marking the International Day of Sport for Development and Peace, celebrated on 6th April each year.

Due to take place on Thursday 31st March, the event provides an important platform for examining the contribution of sport and physical activity to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), as well as providing an outlet to discuss some of the challenges facing the sector.

A host of prominent speakers will argue for and against the motion: “To ensure inclusive, equitable and safe access to sport for all, investment should only be made to organisations demonstrating complete adherence to international human rights laws and principles.” 

Human rights are a pertinent topic, especially as Commonwealth countries look to use sport to heal communities and bounce back economically following the COVID-19 pandemic.

Under this motion, issues of equality, good governance, safeguarding, transparency, and the rights of athletes will take centre stage in what is set to be a comprehensive and lively event.

Commonwealth Secretary-General, the Rt Patricia Scotland QC will open the debate, and President of the Commonwealth Games Federation Dame Louise Martin will act as lead judge on the adjudication panel.

Dame Louise has a long-standing association with the Commonwealth Games as an athlete and former chair of the Commonwealth Advisory Body on Sport.

The issue of Human rights, and equality has long been pertinent to the work of the Commonwealth Secretariat and the Sport for Development and Peace team.

The universal right to partake in sport without discrimination is recognised across the Commonwealth – as is the role of physical activity in improving wellbeing and healthy lifestyles, stimulating socio-economic development, and helping to build peaceful and just societies.

Effective sports programmes can also promote and protect human rights.

As a result, sport ministers, government heads, and policy experts have all acknowledged the need for policy coherence in sport, human rights, and development.

The debate also coincides with what is an important year for the sporting sector, with the Commonwealth Games due to take place in Birmingham in July.

It will link to the planned legacies associated with the upcoming Games and the 10th ministers meeting - due to take place in the wings.

Layne Robinson, Head of Social Policy at the Commonwealth Secretariat, and chair of the debate said: "The Commonwealth Secretariat has established itself as a recognised leader in helping member countries to utilise the transformative potential of physical activity in society.

"However, growing threats to the integrity and accessibility of sport can undermine its positive impact - particularly as governments look to rebuild following the pandemic.

 "2022 is an important year for the sector, with the upcoming Commonwealth Games in Birmingham and the legacy it will create.

"As we prepare for the July Games, this debate represents an opportunity to reflect upon the opportunities and challenges facing the physical activity sector.

"By bringing together an eminent panel of experts, we hope to facilitate an impactful conversation that will help set the agenda and shape productive policy work.”

Find out more about the event and register to attend



Media contact

  • Amy Coles  Communications Officer, Communications Division, Commonwealth Secretariat
  • E-mail