Under the lead of the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations (UNAOC), Save the Dream co-hosted the first Online Youth Consultation on Preventing Violent Extremism through Sport on 20-21 January, within the framework of the UN Global Programme on Security of Major Sporting Events, and Promotion of Sport and its Values as a Tool to Prevent Violent Extremism.

The implementation of the programme is led by the United Nations Office of Counter-Terrorism (UNOCT), in partnership with the United Nations Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute (UNICRI), the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations (UNAOC), the International Centre for Sport Security (ICSS), in consultation with the UN Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate (CTED) and with the participation of INTERPOL. The programme is financially supported by the State of Qatar, the United Nations Peace and Development Fund (UNPDF – funded by the People’s Republic of China), and the Republic of Korea.

The Youth Consultation brought together youth leaders, between the ages of 15 and 29, from 38 countries and five continents, with experience in the fields of sport, peacebuilding, and/or the prevention of violent extremism (PVE).

On the first day, youth participants provided inputs and suggestions to UN representatives on ways to develop various outputs for the Global Programme, such as a global communications campaign to be launched concurrently with Major Sporting Events (MSEs) and involving professional athletes scheduled to gain significant exposure during MSEs such as the 2021 Tokyo Olympics and the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar; a guide for policymakers to support the inclusion of sport-based initiatives in PVE policies; and a training handbook and app to assist sporting events organizers with the provision of PVE tools.

The Youth Consultation featured inspiring keynote speakers such as:  Ms. Nadia Nadim, an Afghan-Danish football player for Paris Saint-Germain and the Danish national team; Ms. Thandiwe Abdullah, Black Lives Matter (BLM) activist and co-founder of the BLM Youth Vanguard; and Ms. Honey Thaljieh, FIFA Manager, founder of the Female Palestinian National Team, Save the Dream Ambassador.

On the second day of the event, youth participants had fruitful discussions with National Focal Points (NFPs) on PVE nominated by 15 Member States, assigned within the framework of the UN Global Programme to represent their respective entities within the global PVE NFP network. They discussed ways to improve the integration of youth in decision-making processes, both in implementing programme deliverables to maximize efficacy and in ensuring their long-term success.

Massimiliano Montanari, CEO, ICSS and Executive Director, Save the Dream said; “Sport is a powerful tool in the prevention of violent extremism in communities that are at risk, and a way to empower a generation of future leaders who will be able to build more inclusive and fair societies’”

Ms. Nadia Nadim, an Afghan-Danish football player for Paris Saint-Germain and the Danish national team said; “It is hard to feel like an outsider and that is why I believe that sports in general and football, in particular, can give children and young people that security, the feeling that they belong to a group and have people around them who care. That is what football did for me. Football was of way for me to become a part of something, to feel included and accepted.”

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