Sustainable development goals logos

Several goals are under review, arguably some of the most difficult to measure, including Goal 16 – peace, justice and strong institutions and Goal 10 – reduce inequalities. With the past two decades seeing a dramatic increase in the number of conflicts around the world, we have to take a hard look at the progress made towards creating more peaceful and just societies, if we are to meet the 2030 targets.

How does conflict prevention and resolution fit within the SDGs?

The SDGs are a universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity. In total there are 17 SDGS, covering different aspects of poverty reduction and climate protection, from ending hunger to responsible consumption. The most relevant goal for building peace is Goal 16. However, the goals do not sit in isolation, and peace, inclusion and equality are essential for all areas of development. Without action, it is predicted that more than 80% of the world’s poorest will be living in countries experiencing violence and instability by 20301.

By its very nature, peacebuilding is complex and requires creating changes across multiple areas of society. So, it’s important to be able to document that in our work and with respect to the SDGs. While assessing how well we are doing, we need to consider the other goals and indicators which are necessary for creating peaceful societies.

One way of looking at the breadth of activity which could contribute to creating more peaceful societies, is to look at SDG16+. SDG16+ includes other SDG targets as well as those directly related to Goal 16, that are needed to create peaceful, just and inclusive societies. This roadmap was produced by pathfinders – a group of member states, international organisations and global partnerships, and was launched at the 72nd Session of the UN General Assembly. At Conciliation Resources, we are mapping our work against these targets, as well as others we contribute to.

What is Conciliation Resources doing to meet the SDG targets?

As an organisation committed to stopping violent conflict and creating more peaceful societies, we are contributing to achieving the targets set across nearly all aspects of our work. Collaborative partnerships (Goal 17) are at the heart of our approach. As well as work with partners located in areas of conflict, which includes developing peacebuilding capacities, we are part of a number of consortiums and coalitions aimed at both undertaking practical work to build peace, and promoting peacebuilding. 

On Goal 16, we work directly to reduce violence in all the countries in which we work, particularly focusing on preventing violence towards some of the most vulnerable groups such as women and young people. For example, community peace structures we support in the Central African Republic and the Philippines, bring conflicting groups together to resolve local conflicts, and Youth Peace Platforms in Nigeriaempower young people to turn away from violence and give them the confidence to become advocates for peace.

However, peacebuilding cannot only be done within communities. To create real change political level engagement is also needed, with connection between the two. The mediation support we provided to conflict parties and the Kenyan facilitators during the six-year negotiations between the Ogaden National Liberation Front and Ethiopian Government, resulted in the signing of a peace agreement in 2018. We also help the creation of effective, accountable and transparent institutions, as well as institutions and policies for violence prevention. In Colombia, with our partner CIASE, we established and support a network of indigenous women which monitors implementation of the 2016 peace agreement, to ensure commitments set out are followed through.

There are other very relevant goals to which we can measure our contribution, for example, Goal 5 on gender equality, which includes ensuring women’s full participation in leadership. We host Women Mediators across the Commonwealth – a network which brings together experienced peace mediators from the grassroots with those mediating formal peace negotiations. The network advocates for greater representation of, and support for, women mediators. We also provide training to women in communities across East and Central Africa, West Africa and Bougainville in Papua New Guinea, which helps them to take up leadership roles in mediating community conflicts. 

How can we meaningfully measure our contribution?

While it is useful to lay out examples from our work under the various indicators to demonstrate how we are meeting the SDG targets, should we be measuring our contributions more systematically? As a sector, we could all be doing more to monitor our individual and collective contribution to the SDGs.

As discussions at HLPF unfold, we will be watching closely. Collectively, we can be pleased at some of the progress we have made despite a difficult global political climate. However, there is still much more to be done to ensure that we are truly building more peaceful, inclusive and just societies.

1States of Fragility 2018, OECD