Ms. Naahy Mohamed Rasheed,
Second Secretary at the Maldives Mission to the United Nations
At the Plenary on Agenda item 11: Sport as an enabler of sustainable development
1 December 2022
Thank you, Mr. President,
As highlighted in the 2030 Sustainable Agenda, sports play a growing and critical role in contributing to development and peace. It aids in empowering women, young people, individuals, and communities. During these challenging and unprecedented times, sports have been a catalyst for better and stronger recovery for all. It has brought people together, giving people hope. In this regard, the Maldives is pleased to join in adopting today’s resolution titled “Sport as an enabler of sustainable development”.
Sports, particularly the Olympic and Paralympic movements, have played a pivotal role in promoting peace and development. This is reflected in the ideal of the “Olympic Truce" where the power of sports is harnessed to encourage peace, build dialogue, and, more broadly, create reconciliation. The Maldives has proudly participated in the Olympic movement since 1988. Last year, Maldivian para-athletes represented the country in the International Paralympics for the first time.
Global, national, and local sporting events have the power to build communities, shift attitudes and behaviors, and raise awareness of social responsibilities. For example, the Tokyo 2020 Olympics ushered in a new era for gender equality when, for the first time, participating countries had dual flag bearers at the opening ceremony. Further, in the lead-up and at the FIFA Football World Cup in Qatar, football leagues, players, the media, fans, and other stakeholders were invited to become agents of change by adopting sustainable practices and acting as champions of climate action, equity, and human rights; all actions which advanced the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals. Indeed, the World Cup in Qatar is poised to be the most-watched event of all time. We applaud the Government of Qatar for the excellent arrangements made for football fans and players gathered from different parts of the world
The Government of Maldives has utilized sports as an instrument for youth development and has given great priority to expanding access to sporting opportunities across the country. In September 2015, the Maldives enacted its first Sports Act, aiming to promote competitive sports and cultural activities at the international, national, and local-island levels. Moreover, the Government has provided many opportunities that were not available to athletes in the past, including funding for athletes’ further education and professional trainings abroad. The Maldives is taking the initiative to host major regional and international tournaments as well, such as the 2021 South Asian Football Federation Championship and a leg of the Bodyboarding World Tour in 2022.
The Government of Maldives is making steady progress in facilitating sports development projects across the country, including the development of 82 football pitches, 70 futsal pitches, 39 volleyball courts across the country. We also are determined to establish the Maldives as a globally viable water sports destination. There has been a growing interaction between the Government, the youth, sportspersons, and the sporting community to identify needs and address the existing gaps. In this regard, there are initiatives to build sporting complexes and youth centres on various islands. Encouragement of youth participation in sports promotes the development of leadership and cooperation skills, ensuring that they become positive role models in their communities and contribute to economic and social progress.Such initiatives will lead to the development and promotion of sports at the grass-root as well as professional levels.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, lockdowns have contributed to a decline in physical activity, as well as a spike in anxiety and depression, especially among young people. The resumption of high-quality physical education is vital for recovery.
Sports programmes have been found to address mental health challenges and facilitate sustainable development. In September, the Maldives launched the National Physical Activity Policy and the National Guidelines on Physical Activity to improve public awareness on the importance of physical activity and exercise for healthy living and ageing, as well as to encourage an active lifestyle.
As outlined in the Secretary-General’s Report, sports can be utilized as a low-cost, high-impact tool to rebuild solidarity within and between countries and to deliver concrete benefits to people in the short term. It can also generate broader societal change, in line with the Sustainable Development Goals. The increase in investments in sports has already reaped benefits for the Maldives. It is our hope that the power of sports is fully utilized to maximize development and peace all over the world.
I thank you.