[Dateline: Nairobi | Author: UN-HABITAT]
The United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-HABITAT) and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) signed a Memorandum of Understanding aimed at promoting youth empowerment through sport by targeting mainly vulnerable and disadvantaged communities worldwide.
The landmark pact was signed on Thursday, 5 February, by Mrs. Anna Tibaijuka, UN-HABITAT Executive Director, and the IOC President, Mr. Jacques Rogge, at the IOC Headquarters in Lausanne, Switzerland.
The partnership will work to encourage youth to participate in sports activities and thus promote the Millennium Development Goals to alleviate poverty and to improve the living conditions of slum dwellers everywhere.
A joint statement issued at the ceremony said that through the agreement both sides would strive to encourage advocacy and field-level activities in pursuit of these objectives through UN-HABITAT’s offices and the National Olympic Committees.
“This MOU between UN-HABITAT and the IOC is an important step forward in meeting the challenges of sustainable urbanization especially in the developing world. We must not forget that over 50 percent of slum populations are made up of young people and there is no better way to give direction and motivation than by encouraging them to participate in sports,” Mrs. Tibaijuka said.
The two organizations agreed to establish a follow-up committee that will meet annually to further define, develop, and maintain a programme of international cooperation and implement activities of common interest. The aim is to enable a regular exchange of information and lessons learned, as well as to prepare, publish and disseminate information of mutual interest on the role of youth and sport in urban development.
“The IOC is working closely with a number of UN agencies. The Memorandum of Understanding with UN-HABITAT is another step to promote development through sport and to support the UN Millennium Development Goals. Through this collaboration the IOC and UN-HABITAT will focus on the urban poor: millions of people, particularly children in the slums, for whom sport can bring escapism and hope,” Mr. Rogge added.