Gym Login

Abstract by the Author

In 2015, the United Nations adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and agreed that it is vital for current and future generations to pursue 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Science, education, and sport are seen as drivers and important enablers of sustainable development (SD). Yet, even though all professions are called upon to embed SD into their work to facilitate change, and even though sport and exercise psychology professionals could play an important role in this process, there seems to be only a little awareness of the need to contribute to SD as a discipline. This paper aims at changing this by elaborating on the reasons why sport and exercise psychologists should care about SD and the SDGs; it explains how psychologists and their clients can benefit from using the principles of SD to guide their professional work and decision-making. It will be illustrated how sport and exercise psychology professionals can promote sustainable physical activity and sustainable elite sport, and how they can contribute to the achievement of internationally agreed societal, and global goals as practitioners, as teachers, and as researchers. Furthermore, the normative dimensions of the concept of SD are being discussed.

Seven Key Observations by Gymtopia

  1. Promoting Sustainable Physical Activity: The paper illuminates the concept of ‘sustainable physical activity’, which refers to the promotion of exercise and sports activities in ways that consider long-term environmental, social, and economic impacts. It’s about fostering activities that improve individual health and wellbeing and contribute positively to the community and the environment. This might include encouraging outdoor activities in nature, promoting walking or cycling over motorised transportation, or advocating for the use of sustainable sports equipment.
  2. Physical Activity for Intergenerational Cooperation: The paper also sheds light on the role of sustainable physical activity in meeting other Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), such as promoting intergenerational cooperation (Goal 17: Partnerships for the Goals). Through shared physical activities, different age groups can interact, cooperate, and learn from each other. This cooperation can foster respect, understanding, and social cohesion among generations, thus contributing to sustainable social development.
  3. Elite Athletes as Role Models for Sustainable Development (SD): The paper emphasizes the significant role elite athletes can play in achieving SD goals. By modelling behaviour that promotes fitness, gender equality, climate action, and peace, athletes can inspire and educate the public. Sport and Exercise Psychology (SEP) professionals are pivotal in guiding athletes to act as responsible role models.
  4. Need for Research in Sport and Exercise Psychology for Sustainable Development: The paper highlights the urgent call for more research in the intersection of SEP and SD. This research is crucial for making evidence-based decisions on promoting SD. The 2030 Agenda views scientific research as a key driver of SD, emphasizing the importance of exploring the potential of SEP to contribute to SD.
  5. Sport and Exercise Psychology Unique Expertise for Sustainable Development Research: SEP offers unique expertise that can significantly inform research related to SD. The paper points out the potential of psychological skills training, widely used in SEP, to promote sustainable behaviour, an area currently underexplored in research.
  6. Incorporating Sustainable Development in Education: The paper encourages educators to incorporate SD in their teaching. This approach prepares future change agents who can shape society, the environment, and the economy. Including SD in the curriculum can enrich the teaching process and improve the quality of education.
  7. Addressing the Ethical Aspects of Sustainable Development: The paper underscores the importance of acknowledging and transparently dealing with the ethical aspects that inherently come with Sustainable Development (SD). Every piece of scientific evidence is a product of our society and is embedded within our belief system. In the context of SD, these ethical aspects or values may include fairness, respect for nature, and responsibility for future generations. The paper advocates that these values should be openly recognized and incorporated into both teaching and research, reminding us that along with the freedom of academic thought and curiosity, comes a significant social responsibility.