DOHA: Wilfried Lemke, UN Special Adviser on Sport for Development and Peace, will address 450 youth participants at the Empower 2014 conference which opens on Thursday at HBKU Student Centre.
The sixth conference by Reach Out To Asia (Rota) will focus on leadership, service learning and global citizenship under the theme ‘Sports for Youth Empowerment’.
In particular, organisers will be integrating sports, the environment, skills development and the Arabic language as key themes of the programme.
Lemke is providing a video message to the conference. Previously, he met Rota youth to share thoughts on sports and human development.
Lemke, appointed by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on 18 March 2008, has acquired extensive experience in sports and politics.
As special adviser, he is responsible for promoting understanding and support for sport as an instrument for development and peace and encouraging dialogue, collaboration and partnerships.
Since International Year of Sport and Physical Education in 2005, UN member states have highlighted the role of sport in development and peace in their national legislation and policies.
“I regret that I am not able to join this important event that truly empowers young people to take active roles in building communities and have a voice on global issues.
“I am pleased that Rota has selected ‘Sports for Youth Empowerment’ as the theme for the conference, as sport accurately has the power to change lives for the better, especially for young people,” said Lemke.
“I would like to congratulate Rota for sharing the same vision of the UN that sport can be a powerful tool to promote education, health, development and peace. Sport unites people of all social classes, cultures, religions and backgrounds in a positive and educational way,” he added.
Heading to the forum, Lemke met Rota youth and motivated them on the power of sport and physical activity in bringing together people from different social, economic, cultural and religious backgrounds.
“We have to use sport as a tool for development in all over the world, and NGOs such as Rota, have been at the forefront in utilising the power of sport to help youth inspire and invoke change in their communities,” he said.
“‘Sport for Change’ is a philosophy we should all believe in. Use sport as a medium to create positive behaviour, break down negative stereotypes and build positive attitudes”, he told Rota youth.
Essa Al Mannai, Rota Executive Director, said: “We are privileged to have the video message of Lemke for the event. I am sure it will help convince young people to take leadership roles in addressing local and international developmental issues of concern to them, especially in the area of sustainable development and sports.”