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Loughborough researchers play key role at UNESCO global sport policy conference

Professor Paula Griffiths speaking at the UNESCO Global Sport Policy Conference

A team of researchers from Loughborough University’s School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences played a vital role at the recent UNESCO MINEPS VII conference, held in Baku, Azerbaijan.

The conference – attended by over 400 ministers and other leading decision-makers and experts from across the world – established the future of global policy in sport, physical activity, and physical education. 

Professor Richard Giulianotti, the current University UNESCO Chair in Sport, Physical Activity and Education for Development, was joined by colleagues Professor Paul DownwardProfessor Paula GriffithsDr Oliver Hooper, and Dr Serhat Yilmaz.

The conference saw Prof Griffiths and Prof Downward take special speaker slots at the roundtable on ‘Impact Investment in Sport’, where they summarised the findings of the Quality Physical Education Report, which was co-authored by a team from Loughborough University, led by Dr Rachel Sandford, and by UNESCO’s Sport Section.

Professor Griffiths advocated for the need for governments to increase the status of, and funding for, physical education, and for the subject to be more inclusive for women, girls, and people with disabilities. Professor Downward highlighted the need for better indicators to monitor quality physical education, and to remind the audience that Loughborough has the skills to support such change.  In a later session, Prof Giulianotti discussed Loughborough’s commitment to UNESCO’s ‘Fit for Life’ initiative, detailing how the University can contribute to this global programme.

Following the event, Professor Griffiths said: “Engagement in MINEPS7 from the Loughborough University UNESCO chair team highlights the need that governments have for evidence and data to make the case for policies which will support the Fit For Life initiative that all member states at the meeting adopted.

“Loughborough University’s contributions through the Quality Physical Education Report that UNESCO launched in partnership with Loughborough University at the meeting are an important element of this evidence base. Quality Physical Education provides the building blocks for our youngest members of society to become Fit for Life.”

Colleagues also had the opportunity to network and share knowledge with other attendees.

This has led to ongoing discussions over future collaboration with the African Union, the Madagascan government, the Global Observatory for Gender Equality and Sport, the UK Department for Culture, Media and Sport, and other key stakeholders.