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Opening Speech by Ambassador Massari at the COSP 17 side-event promoted by Italy and Albania “How to Achieve International Cooperation in Sport to Promote a Truly inclusive future even in Humanitarian Emergencies Situations”.

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Esteemed Ambassadors,

Dear Guests,

Thank you all for your presence here today.

Special thanks to Associazione Filippide for its initiative on this side event.

In the margins of this UN week dedicated to disabilities, we convene here to discuss the pivotal role of international cooperation in sport, especially as we strive to foster a truly inclusive future for all – even in the most challenging humanitarian emergencies.

Sport has an unparalleled ability to bridge divides, unite communities, and offer hope where it is most needed. It transcends borders, languages, and cultures, creating a universal language of teamwork, perseverance, and resilience.

In the face of crises—be it natural disasters, conflicts, or forced displacement—sport can serve as a beacon of normalcy, a therapeutic outlet, and a critical tool for rebuilding lives and communities.

Italy has long recognized the invaluable role of sports as a pivotal instrument in fostering peace, sustainable development, inclusion, tolerance, and respect, particularly among our youth. Our rich sporting history and commitment to humanitarian efforts are a testament to our dedication to these values.

Sport is also a key instrument to promote reconciliation and social inclusion. This is why Italy actively promotes development initiatives focusing on sport as a catalyst for these purposes.

In New York, Italy is active in the Group of Friends of Sport for Development and Peace. We also closely follow and promote pertinent Resolutions, such as the World Football Day recently approved by the General Assembly. In fact, the GA has been focusing increasingly on the role of sport for sustainable development and peace, including by proclaiming several international days, years, and initiatives dedicated to different sports, and also to the Olympic deal and calling for Olympic truces. Over the next few weeks, the GA will also proclaim a new international day on Fair Play, which Italy has promoted together with a group of countries from all regions. On a national level, we look forward to hosting the Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games in 2026 in Milano Cortina.

Before beginning our discussion, let me underscore three points to keep in mind when we talk about enhancing international cooperation in sport to promote inclusion, even amid humanitarian emergencies.

First, we must strengthen robust partnerships between governments, international organizations, NGOs, and the private sector. Collaborative efforts are essential to mobilize resources, share expertise, and implement sustainable sporting programs. The UN agencies, with their far-reaching capacity to coordinate global efforts, plays a crucial role in facilitating these partnerships.

Second, we need to prioritize inclusive policies and programs that specifically address the needs of vulnerable populations. This includes people with disabilities, as well as refugees, internally displaced persons, and those affected by conflict or disaster. By tailoring initiatives to be inclusive and accessible, we can harness the full potential of sport as a force for good.

Third, we must leverage the power of sport to promote peace and conflict resolution. Sporting events and activities can serve as neutral ground where differences are set aside, and mutual respect is fostered. Through sports diplomacy, we can build bridges between divided communities and promote dialogue and understanding.

Let us draw inspiration from the resilience and determination of athletes who overcome immense odds to achieve greatness. Let it be a powerful catalyst for positive change, even in the most challenging times.

Thank you for your attention, and I look forward to our discussion today.

Grazie mille.