Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is an honor and privilege for me to deliver these closing remarks today on behalf of UNDP as a champion of SDG 16+ and a member the Global Alliance.
SDG 16+ will be challenging to meet by 2030 on current trajectories: 80% of the world’s poor will live in fragile and violent contexts by 2030. This makes visionary and committed leadership essential to accelerate progress. As mentioned by H.E. Baroness Sugg in her opening remarks: We must insist on the fact that investment in SDG 16+ is an investment in the whole of Agenda 2030.
Today, 650 million children lack proof of legal identity. The Task Force on Justice shows there are still significant gaps facing people in accessing justice services. Civic space is furthermore shrinking across the globe and 181 restrictions have been imposed on civil society organizations in 82 countries since 2013.
The risk of failure to address these challenges and the lack of investment in SDG16+ are worsening violence, injustice and exclusion. This will reverse development gains across all SDGs, including education, health and climate action.
This is one of the findings of the SDG 16+ report just launched by the Global Alliance, and of many of our partners from this multi-stakeholder platform who are here with us today. The evidence-based SDG 16+ report provides examples on progress on SDG 16+ in addition to policy and programming recommendations. These will serve as catalysts for initiatives to enhance more peaceful, inclusive and just societies among practitioners in government, civil society, academia, the private sector and the UN system. I hope you will all find the report useful in your work going forward.
As highlighted by panelists today, political and financial investment is urgently needed to accelerate progress on SDG 16+. The discussions clearly demonstrated how both governments, private sector civil society and youth have a unique role to play to contribute to SDG 16+.
I want to particularly complement Sierra Leone’s leadership on SDG 16+ and appreciate the statements from the representatives from civil society, private sector and the youth for highlighting their engagement in monitoring and reporting on SDG16 as well as in accelerating progress on the SDGs.
I want you all to leave this event with three key messages that have emerged out of the report and consultations that UNDP has been supporting with the Global Alliance:
1) The urgency of enhancing our investment in and commitments to SDG 16+, not only for SDG 16 but for the fulfillment of other SDGs. In a context where we see severe backsliding on human rights and fundamental freedom, where attacks on human rights defenders, civil society and the media are increasing and where the risks of violence and conflict are rising with increased political polarization, more needs to be done to ensure progress on SDG 16 and the 2030 agenda. This includes investing in more effective, representative and responsive institutions, supporting National Human Rights Institutions, civil society and enabling access to justice for marginalized groups – at all levels. To create the future we want, the time to act is now.
2) Stronger and new partnerships are required to deliver on SDG 16. As we heard today, governments, the private sector, civil society, youth and international entities need to work better together to address the complex issues of peace, justice and inclusion. We need to break the silos and recognize the relationship between injustice, inequality and violence and the need to adopt a multi-disciplinary approach, across sectors, to address multi-dimensional poverty. This is the ‘whole of government, whole of society’ promise. Several case studies in the Global Alliance report show that this is effective. In Georgia, for example, civil society organizations directly support integration, implementation and monitoring of the SDGs with technical expertise and advice, which again fosters inclusive decision-making and collaborative partnerships across society. VNRs and the HLPF are important, but it is also critical to follow up at the national, local and community levels to ensure that the commitments to achieving SDG 16 are realized for all.
3) The SDG Summit in September is focusing on mobilizing further actions to accelerate implementation for all 17 SDGs. Let’s accelerate action on SDG 16 – together! We need to scale up commitments for SDG 16 with increased ambition. The SDG 16+ Report highlights some of the incredible initiatives that are already being taken forward at country level to make SDG 16 a reality. At UNDP we have been supporting initiatives such as the 16x16 youth initiative, the Rule of Law and Human Rights Accelerator Initiative, the interagency efforts on Legal Identity, and of course the Global Alliance on Reporting on SDG 16+ to translate these commitments to action. We are not alone in this and are grateful to be part of such vibrant and engaged community of actors on SDG 16+.
Excellencies, Distinguished delegates,
In closing, I would like to warmly thank the Government of United Kingdom and the SDG16+ Community for organizing this event, showcasing the strong collaboration among coalitions to promote SDG16+. Thank you also to all Member States present here for their determination to work for SDG 16+, and for the invaluable contributions and commitment from civil society, the private sector and many other stakeholders in achieving this critical goal.
Lastly, I thank all of you for the commitment, knowledge and appetite for sustainable development and for peace, justice and inclusion that you have shown and shared with us today.