Who we are

Founded in 1952, World Leisure Organization is a world-wide, non-governmental association of persons and organizations dedicated to discovering and fostering those conditions best permitting leisure experience as a force for human development and well-being.

Access to meaningful leisure experience requires adequate shelter, education, employment and fundamental health care as preconditions. Yet, more is required for improving quality of life and the realization of human potential. This happens through the joint efforts of policy makers, leisure professionals, leisure scholars and researchers, and our public and private sector program providers.

The World Leisure Organization operates in consultative status with the United Nations.

How are we organized

The overall direction of World Leisure and the policies needed to pursue it are determined by an international Board of Directors (up to 20 members) drawn from diverse backgrounds and geographical regions. Officers include the President, Chief Operating Officer, Vice-President, and Treasurer.

The main affairs and projects of the Organization are managed by the World Leisure Scientific and Technical Secretariat, administered by the Chief Operating Officer (currently located in Bilbao, Spain). Program management is decentralized, and under the direction of the several program heads, including those in charge of Special Interest Groups, World Leisure Centers of Excellence, World Leisure Honors and Awards, World Leisure Academy and the World Leisure Journal.


What we do

  • We foster Inquiry

    Through research and scholarship to discover the personal and social potentialities of leisure experience and the factors facilitating and constraining it.

  • We share what we know

    Via formal and informal dissemination of knowledge and information

  • We engage in informed advocacy

    By advocating for conditions optimizing leisure experience through legislation, infrastructure development, leadership, and programming

How we do it

Board of directors

Roger Coles

Roger Coles

Board Chair

Joanne Schroeder

Board Vice-Chair


Cristina Ortega

Chief Operating Officer

Yvonne Klerks
(The Netherlands)


Stephen Anderson

Gulshetty Basawaraj

Miklos Banhidi

Antonio Bramante

Richard Hayes

Abubakar Jalloh

Zhongqiang Ma (Victor)

Lawal Marafa
(Hong Kong)

Lénia Marques
(The Netherlands)

Galit Nimrod

Ling Ping

Carlos Alberto Rico

Atara Sivan

John Tower

Trudie Walters
(New Zealand)


Marie Young
(South Africa)

Strategic plan

Strategic Plan 2015-2020 – Leisure: Enhancing the Human Condition

Download Strategic Plan 2015-2020


. . . strategic planning is a process by which we can envision the future and develop the

necessary procedures and operations to influence and achieve that future. Clark Crouch


This document extends a process begun more than a decade ago with the production of WLO’s strategic plan entitled A World Fit for Living: World Leisure Priorities for People 2004-2008*. This plan identified four priorities for the organization including: 1) heightening the awareness of leisure benefits; 2) improving policy and legislation; 3) strengthening leadership; and 4) expanding international cooperation. Each of these priorities was supported with a list of action steps. In turn, the results of the work of the organization was evaluated in terms of the progress made in achieving identified activities.

In 2008, another strategic planning initiative was undertaken resulting in a document entitled Leisure: Enhancing the Human Condition ~ Priorities and Strategies, 2009-2014. Building on the previous strategic plan, this initiative identified six (6) goals or priorities including: 1) linking to UN Millennium Goals (MDGs); 2) enhancing research and scholarship; 3) advocating for leisure; 4) expanding educational opportunities; 5) strengthening partnerships and collaborative relationships; and 6) expanding membership. These goals and priorities were then, in turn, supported by an extensive list of action steps.

In establishing a new strategic plan for WLO, the following initial steps and preliminary timeline were established as follows:

Oct 2013 – WLO BOD Establishes Strategic Planning Process to include Board members, professional staff, and key stakeholders

Oct 2013 – Review of Strategic Orientation/Philosophy/Vision/Values to ensure alignment of basic philosophy, programs, services, and structure

Dec 2013 – Future Forecast/Environmental Scan including SWOT Analysis and Identification of Key Issues, Questions and Choices to be addressed

Mar-May 2013  – Importance/Performance Analysis of WLO Programs, Services and Structures to evaluate the importance and performance of programs and services, financial initiatives and other factors

Oct 2013  – Analysis of 2009 – 2014 Strategic Plan suggested that great progress has been made in advancing the priorities and goals of WLO.

 *Edginton, C. R. & Coles, R. (2009). Leisure: Enhancing the human condition–Priorities and strategies, 2009-2014. World Leisure Secretariat, Cedar Falls, Iowa USA. 1-20.

March 2014 – Priorities/Goals were identified that focus on a variety of concerns including programs and services; resource development/management; the status or stature of the organization; the building of partnerships, affiliate relationships and cooperative/collaborative relationships; governance activities; and organizational infrastructure.

  • UN Sustainable Development Goals – Alignment with the UN’s post 2015 MDGs focused on sustainable development should be a major initiative within the World Leisure Organization (WLO).
  • Enhanced Relationships with the UN and UNESCO – Continued efforts at linking WLO with the UN and rebuilding our relationship with UNESCO should occur including building stronger relationships with the UN World Tourism Organization, World Health Organization, World Trade Organization, etc. 
  • Craft a Focus on UN/UNESCO Priorities – This currently includes Africa, gender equality and sustainable development goals.
  • Enhanced Relationships with Regional Intergovernmental Bodies – Additional emphasis should be placed on building relationships with intergovernmental agencies such as the European Union, African Union, the Union of South American Nations and Commonwealth of Nations.
  • Governance Structure – A review of WLO’s Governance Structure should be undertaken during the 2015 – 2020 strategic planning process. Questions regarding the nature and types of membership as well as the role and size of the Board of Directors and policies should all be reviewed.
  • Partnership Activities – Greater attention should be paid to developing strategies to enhance partnership activities (e.g., affiliate organizations, shared interests, and international associations). Such strategies  could be useful in building the membership base of the organization as a way of expanding WLO’s sphere of influence.
  • Marketing of Global Events – Activities aimed at enhancing the branding of World Leisure’s global events including WLO’s congresses, conferences and summits, WLO Games and WLO Festivals should be undertaken.
  • Informational Products and Services – WLO should identify specific projects that create opportunities for information databases that can be shared or purchased. For example, information regarding the economic impact of leisure on a worldwide basis could be considered. Other types of information might include the linkage of leisure to health and its relationship to social and cultural development.
  • Expansion of Use of Social Media to Advocate for Leisure – Aggressive enhancement to WLO’s social media portals (e.g., Facebook, Twitter) as a way of expanding efforts to advocate for leisure should be undertaken.
  • Enhancing Educational Opportunities – The WLO network of educational programs should be expanded to encourage WLO Centers of Excellence on all continents. In addition, efforts should be undertaken to implement a full program of educational services.
  • Organizational Fiscal Sustainability – A development of strategies to enable long-term sustainability of WLO’s fiscal resources should be undertaken.
  • Review WLO Program Structures – A review of WLO’s program structures including

WLO Board of Directors, WLO Commissions, WLO Chapters and the WLO Academy should be undertaken. Factors related to the organizational roles for each of these groups should be reviewed e.g. should the WLO Commissions be given the responsibility for selected program implementation? Should the WLO BOD members be responsible for specific program areas?

Succession Planning for Leadership – Strategies for succession in leadership roles on the WLO Board of Directors, WLO Commissions, WLO Chapters and the WLO Academy should be developed.

July-Sept 2014 – Action Steps created support of the goals and priorities to provide a detailed work path for the strategic plan and more specific activities that can be addressed.

Nov – Dec 2014 – Writing of Strategic Plan as a Planning/Promotions Document that provides a document to guide the work of the organization over a specific period of time, detailing priorities, goals and actions to be taken and serves as a promotional publication aimed at advancing a greater understanding of the organization and its intentions. In particular, the Committee (i.e., Richard Hayes, Mike Dow, Ricardo Uvinha, Geof Godbey, Karla Henderson, Aurelia Kogler) have been charged with framing the document (e.g., mission/vision, goals, action steps, timeline, promotion of leisure values) and providing salient documents (e.g., Charter for Leisure, Sao Paulo Declaration on Leisure and Globalization).

Jan 2015 – Review and Revision by the Strategic Planning Committee for submission to WLO Board of Directors for review and comment.

Feb 2015   – Procedures for Monitoring/Modifying Strategies established to enable a review of priorities, goals and action steps by the Board of Directors annually from 2015 forward.

Apr- May 2015  – Board of Directors Reviews and Recommends necessary additions, revisions, modifications, and deletions from draft strategic plan and forwards recommendations to Strategic Planning Committee for preparation and publication of the final Strategic Plan 2015-2020,

Jun 2015 – Strategic Planning Committee Prepares Planning Workshop in collaboration with the Secretariat prior to final approval by the Executive Board.

Sept 2015 – Strategic Plan Reviewed by Board of Directors in strategic planning workshop in Laixi, China. The process was guided by a review of WLO’s central mission, a discussion of the participants’ visions for what the WLO aspires to become in realizing its mission, and identification of key actions that need to be taken for realizing that vision in the next three to five years.

Dec 2015 – Board of Directors Adopts Strategic Plan 2015-2020 in by voice vote in Atlanta.




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