Palestinian schoolgirls take part in the second United Nations-sponsored Gaza marathon, March 2012. ©UN PHOTO/SHAREEF SARHAN

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 2015, identifies sport as “an important enabler” of development and peace, and recognizes the growing contribution of sport to these two objectives. As the world turns its attention to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and the 2016 Summer Olympic and Paralympic Games, the UN Chronicle, under the theme “Sport Aims for the Goals”, considers sport’s role in improving lives and achieving the Agenda’s Sustainable Development Goals.

It is well known that physical activity improves personal health and well-being, but the benefits of sport to society are less apparent. This issue of the Chronicle explores the ways in which sport can enable individuals and communities to build a stronger, more harmonious world. We learn how sport can foster self-confidence, tolerance, inclusiveness and ultimately, peace. Athletes and foundations discuss how they are using their expertise, as well as their fame and fortune, to support nutrition and food security, promote gender equality and contribute to HIV/AIDS awareness. Major sporting events inspire nations to observe truces and improve infrastructural access for those living with a physical impairment. Learning to play by the rules—in both sport and in life—strengthens the rule of law and nurtures the development of just institutions and Governments.

All of these outcomes are in line with the Sustainable Development Goals, which will guide much of the work of the United Nations over the next 14 years.

Contributors to this issue include Wilfried Lemke, Special Adviser to the United Nations Secretary-General on Sport for Development and Peace; Sir Philip Craven, President of the International Paralympic Committee; Thomas Bach, President of the International Olympic Committee; and Yuna Kim, former Olympic figure skater and UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador.

The practice of sport at all levels—from the spectacular achievements of Paralympic and Olympic athletes to the modest goals of weekend runners—can transform individual lives, societies and our world. We hope that our readers are inspired by these stories to also “aim for the Goals” through sport.