(L-R) Olympic champions and IAAF Ambassadors Joanna Hayes and Dwight Phillips, IAAF President Lamine Diack, UNDP Country Director Agi Veres & UNDP Head of Policy and Partnerships Hannah Ryder (Getty Images) © Copyright
News Beijing, China

Athletics for a Better World and United Nations Development Programme cement partnership in Beijing

A unique partnership between the IAAF’s landmark social responsibility programme Athletics for a Better World (ABW) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) was cemented on Wednesday (26).

The two organisations signed a memorandum of understanding to celebrate international partnerships in sports. 

The agreement, signed on the fifth day of the IAAF World Championships, Beijing 2015 was particularly poignant as August has been designated as a month for celebrating South-South cooperation with countries like the championships host China making a big contribution towards the world be a better place for all its citizens.

Non-traditional development participants have a profound impact on development issues and achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and China, as the world’s second largest economy in absolute terms, is the single most important non-traditional development participant.

China is becoming increasingly important in global development, drawing on its own unique history of poverty reduction, as well as other social legacies that have been implemented since the 2008 Olympic Games, which were also staged in the iconic Bird’s Nest stadium and which is also the venue for these championships.

One key and exciting avenue of partnership between China and developing countries is sporting, and specifically athletics, cooperation for development, where countries team up to create a space for exchange and teamwork across cultures. 

"I am delighted to join so many international delegations, as well as government and other partners from here in China and announce that the United Nations Development Programme has partnered with the IAAF’s Athletics for a Better World," said IAAF President Lamine Diack.

"Athletics is the world’s sport, nothing is more simple or universal, and we have a global responsibility to use the power and reach of athletics to make a positive difference

"Athletics for a Better World is the IAAF’s Social Responsibility programme. It harnesses the commitment and energy of the worldwide athletics family to inspire lasting change, something we know China is very committed to, especially when collaborating with other developing countries through what is known as 'south-south' cooperation.

"We are delighted to be joined by two IAAF Ambassadors Joanna Hayes and Dwight Phillips, both Olympic champions, whose own charitable foundations are partnered with Athletics for a Better World.

"Social responsibility is a key element activating a worldwide network of Area Associations, Member Federations, volunteers, families, athletes, sponsors and other public institutions who believe in the values of our sport.

"Social responsibility also allows athletics to be seen as more than just another performance-driven sport but to be seen as something with much more to offer.

"Athletics for a Better World allows the IAAF to provide the leadership so that our stakeholders, such as United Nations Development Programme, can add value to its own work in the fields of poverty reduction and governance, and environment; both here in China and in partnership with China in other developing countries through south-south cooperation," concluded President Diack.

The agreement was signed at the Culture Center in the Bird’s Nest stadium and attended by delegations from various overseas embassies based in Beijing.

As a sign of their commitment to the aims and philosophy of ABW, 70 UNDP-sponsored runners ran in the mass 10km run held in conjunction with the men's marathon on Saturday.