“No Accidental Outcomes”: SDG 16 Review Shows Need for Policy
Photo Credit: Kiara Worth/IISD
story highlights

For the first time since the adoption of the 2030 Agenda, governments and stakeholders conducted an in-depth review of SDG 16 on peace, justice and strong institutions.

Lead discussant Edward Thomas Porokwa, Pastoralists Indigenous NGOs Forum, said a one-size-fits-all strategy for SDG 16 implementation is guaranteed to leave indigenous peoples behind.

Laura Chinchilla, Club de Madrid and former president of Costa Rica, said her country's sustainable development achievements are the outcomes of "deliberate public policy and brave political decisions".

12 July 2019: For the first time since the adoption of the 2030 Agenda, governments and stakeholders conducted an in-depth review of SDG 16 on peace, justice and strong institutions. Lead discussant Edward Thomas Porokwa, Pastoralists Indigenous NGOs Forum, said a one-size-fits-all strategy for SDG 16 implementation is guaranteed to leave indigenous peoples behind.

The statistical snapshot presented by Vibeke Oestreich Nielsen, UN Statistics Division, highlighted that “in recent years, no substantial advances have been made” towards ending violence, promoting the rule of law, strengthening institutions at all levels, or increasing access to justice. Nielsen also noted that the number of trafficking victims has grown, whether because of a growing problem, or because of authorities’ efforts to identify more victims. She said the majority of victims are trafficked for sexual exploitation (83% are female) or for forced labor (82% are male). Moderator Irene Khan, International Development Law Organization (IDLO) Director General, cited not just slow progress towards the targets of SDG 16, but also retrogression in some areas. She reported that almost half the world’s population has no access to justice.

Laura Chinchilla, Club de Madrid and former president of Costa Rica, said SDG 16 is the moral backbone of the 2030 Agenda, since it recognizes the equal standing of every person. She called for bringing more children, youth and women into policymaking processes, protecting civil activists, and putting technology at the center of initiatives to enhance institutional capacity. Chinchilla said that while some people call Costa Rica’s sustainable development achievements a miracle, they are instead the outcomes of “deliberate public policy and brave political decisions.” Chinchilla concluded, “in building sustainable development and offering people peaceful and high-quality lives … there are no accidental outcomes.”

Charles Young, Jamaica Youth Ambassador, highlighted the broad impacts of violence against children, saying that it does not just affect the children involved, but also the country’s economy and social welfare. He said recommendations emerging from the HLPF “need to start becoming actionable items within the agendas of our nations.”

As reported by the Earth Negotiations Bulletin, NGOs echoed that progress on SDG 16 is “off-track and backsliding.” They called on governments to: pursue integrated approaches; adopt a people-centered approach; utilize data; and build capacity for implementation. Other suggested interventions included: creating systems for forecasting conflict before it erupts (Kenya); creating an international tax body under the UN (the CSO Financing for Development Group); and working with local parliaments and improving data collection as key interventions for implementing SDG 16 (various panelists). Lead discussant Harib Al Amimi, State Audit Institution of the United Arab Emirates, emphasized the importance of public financial management, including good governance assessments, as an opportunity for supreme audit institutions (SAIs) to contribute to the SDGs.

Panelist Abdoulie Janneh, Mo Ibrahim Foundation, presented the Ibrahim Index of African Governance, which provides an annual assessment of the quality of governance in African countries based on: safety and rule of law; participation and human rights; sustainable economic opportunity; and human development. He reported progress but noted shrinking space for civil society expression.

The HLPF is taking place in New York, US, from 9-18 July 2019. [SDG Knowledge Hub sources] [IISD Meeting Coverage] [Meeting Webcast]


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