SDG 16 as an accelerator for the 2030 Agenda

July 19, 2019


Work underway to rehabilitate Hamdaniya Hospital with the support of UNDP’s Funding Facility for Stabilization. October 2018, Al Hamdaniya, Iraq. © UNDP Iraq / Claire Thomas


As the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) continued to be reviewed at the recent 2019 High-level Political Forum, the U.N. Development Programme is working with the U.N. system and a broader alliance to highlight the importance of SDG 16 — peace, justice and strong institutions — as an accelerator of the whole SDG framework.

new report provides the critical perspectives of member states and partners active in implementing SDG 16.

Achieving SDG 16 — and the SDGs in general — will depend on a change in the way we think about our support for countries and regions to break cycles of conflict and instability. It requires partnerships, integrated solutions, and for countries and member states to take charge and lead in reshaping the institutional and social landscape, preparing grounds for important reforms that help build sustainable peace.

The findings resulting from our consultations show that the number of countries reporting on SDG 16 is increasing, but more needs to be done to ensure that the goal is also included as part of development planning, prioritization, and budgeting.

The new “SDG 16+ Report” shows indisputably that urgent action is needed.

What needs to happen to address the challenges?  

It’s crucial to have an inclusive and participatory approach to development to counteract the potentially destabilizing impact of marginalization and exclusion. A rise in populism, nationalism, and xenophobia, and the targeting of journalists and human rights defenders results in increased politicization and polarization.

Leaders should collaborate across political and social boundaries to push forward critical reforms and work together to utilize natural resources in the public interest.

Data  is key. To measure progress on the goals and targets, countries will have to strengthen national statistical systems. Specific challenges in co-ordination and data collection in fragile contexts should also be addressed.

Accountable and inclusive institutions should be in put place to ensure participatory decision-making and responsive public policies that leave no one behind, ensuring citizens have unfettered justice and rule of law, without which there can be no sustainable development.

Human rights are central to achieving SDG 16. Strengthening institutions in line with international standards is critical to addressing exclusion and discrimination. This includes support on implementing the principle of leaving no one behind.

The role of local and regional governments is crucial. SDG 16 can only flourish with  local consensus-based targets and indicators complemented by investment and implementation.

Achieving the SDGs requires involving government, civil society, youth, and the private sector.

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development commits signatories to intercultural understanding, tolerance, mutual respect, and an ethic of global citizenship and shared responsibility. Most significantly, SDG 16 aims to focus on addressing some of the key reasons for conflict and violence. UNDP has been mobilizing and elevating voices from across different regions to articulate how goal 16 is critical for all SDGs — including poverty eradication, gender equality, decent work, reducing inequalities, and addressing the injustices of climate change.

UNDP plays a strong role within the U.N.  in conflict prevention. In Libya, we have provided critical capacity-building and stabilization. In Iraq, UNDP has started a new generation of large-scale stabilization programmes, aiming at rapidly re-establishing basic services. In the Central African Republic, the UNDP-supported Rule of Law Accelerator Initiative is helping to coordinate, collect and analyze data to facilitate planning and monitoring of progress toward the 2030 Agenda.

Most recently we have partnered with the Government of Italy to launch “16x16” – a new global initiative implemented by the UNDP Youth Global Programme to support 16 youth-led organizations advancing goal 16. This will inform global conversations and reviews and contribute to connecting SDG 16 to other relevant agendas.

SDG 16 cannot be achieved by governments alone. Partnership and investment will be key to stepping up progress on SDG 16 and across the 2030 Agenda — to transform the world for the better.

This article was originally published here.