The International Paralympic Committee (IPC) yesterday (March 2) released a new strategic plan that aims to “accelerate the Paralympic Movement to the next level.”

Change Starts with Sport, which covers the 2023-26 period, focuses on the four primary goals of serving members and athletes, showcasing athlete excellence through the delivery of Paralympic Games, driving impact through Para sport, and continuing to build a professional organization.

It marks a milestone in the development of the IPC, which was founded in 1989, in that it is based on the principle that the organization is newly mature enough to focus increasingly on the strategic impact of its activities in society.

IPC president Andrew Parsons said: “Due to the evolution of IPC members and the Paralympic Games, the Paralympic Movement has now reached a level of maturity whereby with this new strategic plan we are able to expand our priority areas to sustain growth.

“To propel the Paralympic Movement to its next level of development, we need to continue to serve our members and athletes and deliver transformative Paralympic Games, but we also need to ensure that we fully leverage the impact of Para sport to make for an inclusive world for the planet’s 1.2 billion persons with disabilities.

Change Starts with Sport, and by better demonstrating the societal benefit of Para sport, we will be able to do much more to leverage the IPC’s influence in advancing disability inclusion and growing financial resources to further advance our members and the IPC.

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“By engaging and listening to members and athletes throughout 2022, I believe we now have a strategic plan that identifies four strategic goals that will advance the Paralympic Movement during the next four years.”

The overarching mission of the new strategy is to make for an inclusive world through Para sport.

In relation specifically to the goal of driving impact through Para sport, the new strategy outlines four objectives for the IPC.

These are to explore and demonstrate the societal benefit of Para sport, to support members in their efforts as catalysts for social change for persons with disabilities, to leverage the IPC’s influence in advancing disability inclusion, and to innovate financial resource streams to drive organization and member advancement.

There are also specific objectives for each of the other four primary goals laid out in the strategy.

The plan was developed by the IPC’s Governing Board in consultation with the body’s 200-plus members. Surveys, focus groups, and other touchpoints were used to “capture and understand fully the key focus areas for members,” with the full process taking 10 months.

The IPC Athletes’ Council and other key stakeholders were also consulted.

Dr. Mike Peters, chief executive of the IPC, commented: “We are grateful to all IPC members, athletes, and stakeholders who provided their input into the creation of this new plan. Together with the IPC Governing Board and management team, I am extremely excited about what lies ahead over the next four years.

“The IPC management team, based in Bonn, Germany, is responsible for delivering the IPC’s new Strategic Plan. As we prepare to move to new headquarters in 2023, we remain steadfast in our commitment for the IPC to be a world-leading sports organization in all areas. To achieve this, we are building a professional organization that continuously evaluates and improves what we do and how we do it.”

The IPC’s last strategic plan, covering the 2019-23 period, was focused in particular on changing attitudes about people with disabilities and driving social inclusion.

In relation to this, the IPC launched its WeThe15 campaign in 2021, which Parsons described in releasing the organization’s 2021-2022 Annual Report as “the world’s biggest human rights movement to represent persons with disabilities.”

That report, published in December, reflected on “a momentous year” for the IPC and described the Tokyo 2020 games, delayed by a year and held under strict health protocols, as “the most important Paralympics in history.”

Also since 2019, Parsons was re-elected for a second term in December 2021 and a new constitution for the organization came into effect last year.