Monday, November 6, 2017

Achieving SDGs through sport – Episode 6 - Dr. Gilles Klein

Achieving SDGs through sport – Episode 6

Transform the world: Lausanne – Addis Ababa
Dr. Gilles Klein, 06 November 2017

Lausanne - Addis Ababa. While in Lausanne for the seminar "Achieving the SDGs through sports" I was probably one of the rare guests to establish a rapprochement between these two cities. It is on this virtual journey that I want to invite you today. At first glance, nothing seems to connect them. One is the capital of Canton Vaud, Switzerland. It is located on the shores of Lake Geneva. Everything seems to inspire tranquility. The other is the capital of Ethiopia. It is a permanent building site as much noisy work is in progress. Hundreds of Chinese and Ethiopian workers are struggling throughout the week. It is located on a plateau at more than 2000 meters above sea level, making it the highest capital of Africa. To connect them, there is indeed this property owned by the last emperor of Ethiopia, Haile Selassie, said the Negus, on the shores of Lake Geneva, in Vevey[1]. Less anecdotally, it is a highly political mission that links the two cities. Both are emblematic places of geopolitics, diplomacy and multilateralism.


Lausanne, nicknamed the pearl of Lake Geneva, has established itself as the capital of sports diplomacy since the beginning of the 20th century. On the pediments of public institutions, it proudly displays the title of Olympic Capital, because it is the seat of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and fifty-five international sports federations. Former IOC President Juan Antonio Samaranch offered this title to the city so that the universal values of sport correspond to a particular territorial expression. It is therefore no coincidence that Lausanne hosted a seminar on October 5th, with the support of the Swiss authorities, which brought together major sports organizations to discuss the contribution of sport to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the 2030 program of the United Nations.

Quai d’Ouchy

Seizing this opportunity, I made another visit to the Olympic Museum. Climbing the steps, and then in front of the statue of Pierre de Coubertin, reminded me of the journey that separated June 23, 1894 and September 13, 2017. The first date marked the creation of the IOC in Paris, the second of the attribution of the Games to the French capital in 2014, which the French in me could only rejoice about. The whole history of modern Olympism was between these two dates. If Samaranch had established Lausanne in the Olympic capital, it was indeed Coubertin himself who had chosen the neutrality of the capital of the Canton of Vaud, while the First World War was raging. The headquarters of the IOC have been there since 1915 on the shores of Lake Geneva. In 1968, the definitive seat was established at Vidy Castle[2], where the office of the president of this major institution is now located.


By observing some Chinese tourists posing in front of the French baron’s statue, I thought back to his initial wish, 1500 years after the Greek Games, to help build a peaceful world through sport by promoting communication, fair play and understanding between peoples. In 1894, Pierre de Coubertin breathed his aristocratic philosophy to the sports institution that had just been created. Utopian and humanist, he dreamed then of a universal peace. A peace that is favored by the sporting confrontation. A peace that imposes respect between competitors and between nations. On the eve of this visit to the Musée du Quai d'Ouchy, with more than a hundred colleagues from the sports sector on a global scale, we had come across the diversity of points of view and tried to build synergies between major sports organizations on how sport contributes to development and peace. In our way, we took up the torch of the Baron having taken care to rid us of the inequality of races and genres, the fascination with colonialism and the strong powers that presided over the Coubertinian philosophy.


Addis Ababa, a new flower in the Ahramic language is the seat of the African Union (AU), a hundred embassies, a number of international institutions, including the United Nations economic commission for Africa and many NGOs. On May 24, 1963, the Organization of the African Union (OAU) was created in the presence of thirty-two Heads of State and Government. Due to intense diplomatic work, the city now houses the new continental organization and has become, in the space of half a century, the capital of Africa. Although the presence of the Emperor of Ethiopia was anecdotal in Lausanne, his role was decisive in the establishment of Addis Ababa as the capital of African diplomacy.


After a few unsuccessful attempts, the emperor took over the file of the creation of an organization capable of federating all the states of the continent. He delegated his foreign minister to convince African leaders to attend the inaugural OAU conference held in the Ethiopian capital. "Behind this preference of heads of state and their governments gathered for the first time in the life of their organization appears a clear desire to show appreciation and tribute to the place of the Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie. The latter had indeed managed the feat of agreeing the two antagonistic blocs that had formed after the independence of the former French and British colonies”[3]. Fifty-two years later, the United Nations chose Addis Ababa as the venue for the Third International Conference on Financing for Development. On July 13, 2015, the Ethiopian capital becomes the antechamber of the SDGs that will be voted in New York two months later. This time, after the diplomatic tour de force of Haile Selassie, another feat was expected from the UN Secretary-General, Ban-Ki Moon: find an agreement to finance the objectives of sustainable development.


In the Ethiopian capital, the financial stake was major. Helen Clark, then director of the UNDP, summarized it as follows: "Addis Ababa is crucial because it is good to put a lot of words on the papers, but all this will not work if we do not agree on a how to finance everything, so to put gasoline in the engine of the development of the poorest countries”[4]. In Addis, not all countries agree on the nature of fuel. Because not all countries have the same engine.


When they sit in Addis, the countries of the global North have already greatly reduced the fuel for the countries of the global South. Indeed, they have continued to reduce their official development assistance (ODA) set in 1970 to 0.7% of the national income of donors and maintained at this level since then[5]. In the South, the effects of policies to reduce public finances in the North are harsh: "Rich countries have allocated on average only 0.36% of their gross national income (GNI) to the South, not less than forty-five years after their pledges to the UN to reach 0.7%”[6], said an Oxfam member, an international confederation of twenty (20) organizations working with partners and local communities in more than 90 countries. "The poorest people in the poorest countries are “left behind"by official development assistance (ODA), down 6% for four years”[7]. Prior to the Addis conference, all sectors are affected by this reduction in ODA. Francophone sportsmen and women remember the decision that, in 2013, affected the Conference of Ministers of Youth and Sports of La Francophonie (Confejes). In Niamey, at the 34th conference of Francophone sports ministers, Canada, one of the main donors of Confejes announces its decision to significantly reduce its funding[8].


When they sit in Addis, global Southern countries cannot simply rely on ODA alone. They must also focus on devoting part of their budget to sustainable development. This share is then estimated at less than 10% of their budget to meet the basic needs of their populations. This is often far from the case. To provide a basic health and education service, according to sources, US $ 300-500 is needed. Liberia spends only $ 6, DRC, $ 31, Guinea, $ 32. The solution would be to mobilize more national resources through tax collection. But, given the structure of the economy, the disorganization of the state, the tax organization is absent or failing. "The average tax rate of poor countries does not exceed 15% when it is around 35% in rich countries," said a member of the French Development Agency”[9].


In Addis, in the area of taxation, the G77 - which brings together 133 developing countries - as well as NGOs, advocate for the creation of a body that would deal with taxation and be placed under the aegis of the UN. This creation is essential for Southern States, as for NGOs. One of them summarizes the situation: "a true tax justice at the world level, while there is an international organization to deal with tourism and a universal postal union"[10]. Therefore, debates crystallize on the creation of an intergovernmental fiscal body within the United Nations to fight against tax evasion and optimization and to define global rules.

Tax body

"Tax Body" is the name considered for this organization. For the countries of the South, it would become the Swiss knife of sustainable development financing by bringing together three functions. First, to optimize the national resources of developing countries to reach the 15% threshold. Then compensate the decreases in ODA, which becomes more of a tool of economic diplomacy than real public aid. Finally, to better control fraud and tax evasion: "More and more companies escape tax in their country of origin by transferring activities abroad to jurisdictions where the tax burden is low or zero"[11]. The loss of tax revenue for developing countries from tax havens is estimated at nearly $ 100 billion each year.


After three days of intense negotiations, the United Nations has come to an agreement to finance sustainable development. Poor countries are disappointed after the rich states refuse to create the much desired international body to fight tax evasion. According to an NGO representative, the final synthesis "gives the private sector carte blanche to finance development, without any social or environmental responsibility and, above all, it maintains the privileges of developed countries in global economic governance"[12].


Certainly, in Addis or elsewhere, sustainable development is as much about business as compensation for inequalities. It is a realistic and pragmatic mix that is summarized by a Brazilian negotiator in Addis: "We can make fun of the UN negotiations, easy, but it is the only place where we find States, institutions, civil society, companies, to speak business, debt, climate, development, health, etc. Afterwards, it is easier to make believe that the future of the world passes through public-private partnerships for the benefit of multinationals who think only in terms of solvency and return on investment”[13]. From this virtual return to Addis, we retained some of these lessons of realism, valid for the SDP sector. Lessons that we shared with the Lausanne seminar. Lessons for reflection on youth sport that combine the decline in public funding, local financing, PPPs, the use of private sector, ESG policies, CSR and crowd-funding.


Since the restarting of this blog, we have defined it as a sort of lighthouse that sets our course. Article 37 of the United Nations Declaration "Transforming Our World; the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development"defines sport as a facilitator of sustainable development. In Lausanne, to give meaning to this article, I considered that the sustainable financing of youth sport was a major condition for success: "For our part, we will continue on the path of sustainable funding for youth sport. We will continue to collect and transfer knowledge on the contribution of sport to the SDGs in our Member States. We will renew our approach to sustainable financing for development through PPPs by involving governments more closely. We will mobilize companies in the sports industry, as well as other sectors, which through their ESG policies, integrating a SDP dimension, will be able to participate in the achievement of global objectives. We will strengthen our relations with local NGOs who are closer to the masses, the first concerned by the achievement of the SDGs. This policy should lead to the creation of new tools, such as the World Youth Development Center, an investment fund and a micro-credit fund. The partnership with UNGSII will help develop the global sustainability index in the sports sector "[14].


As a whole, the SDP sector needs to align itself with this vast transformation of the world and sustainable development financing by addressing four challenges: coordinating the institutions of the SDP sector; organizing synergies in fundraising; evaluating the commitment of governments, companies, and relevant organizations. Coordinating, financing and evaluating inevitably raises the issue of the SDP sector governance. From April 30, 2017, the day of the closure of the United Nations Sport Development and Peace office, governance of the SDP sector became a major issue of sports diplomacy. It was clear to me that this governance could not come back to a single agency, no matter how prestigious, ethically irreproachable, politically sound and amply funded. It remains essential to create coordination mechanisms among stakeholders to create the conditions for multi-stakeholder governance of the SDP sector. On this path, the Lausanne seminar was a first step. A path on which each Monday I put a few white pebbles to stake out what I think is a possible route.

Next:  Monday 13 November 2017 – A real rejuvenation! Zoumki and Yaovi

[1]24 heures, Le 13 mai 1936: l’empereur d’Ethiopie vend sa villa de Vevey, Dans la«Feuille d'Avis de Lausanne», Par Gilles Simond 13.05.2016,
[2]France olympique,

[3]Comment Addis-Abeba est devenue la capitale de l’Afrique, Par Seidik Abba, LE MONDE Le 29.01.2017 à 11h43,

[4]Développement : débats et des bas à Addis-Abeba, Par Christian Losson, envoyé spécial à Addis Abeba — 14 juillet 2015 à 14:10
[5] OCDE, Historique de l’objectif de 0.7 %

[6]Développement : débats et des bas à Addis-Abeba, Ibid
[7]Aide au développement, une pauvre réalité, Par Christian Losson — 26 mai 2015 à 22:36
[8]Congrès de la CONFEJES au Niger : Le Canada réduit drastiquement son financement

[9]Développement : débats et des bas à Addis-Abeba, Ibid
[10]Développement : débats et des bas à Addis-Abeba, Ibid
[11]Sommet à Addis-Abeba: y a qu’à, faucons, Par Christian Losson, Envoyé spécial à Addis-Abeba( — 16 juillet 2015 à 19:36,

[12]Sommet à Addis-Abeba: y a qu’à, faucons, Ibid
[13]Développement : débats et des bas à Addis-Abeba, Ibid
[14]Klein, G. (2017), World Sports Alliance: an intergovernmental initiative for the sustainable financing of youth sport, Seminar "Achieving the SDGs through sport: partnerships and institutional responses for greater coherence and effectiveness", Lausanne - 5 October 2017,


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