Why we need to build peaceful, just and inclusive societies through the 2030 Agenda
25 September 2015
This weekend, world leaders will meet in New York to sign up to the Sustainable Development Goals contained in the 2030 Agenda. The new development agenda includes peace as one of five crosscutting priorities, an accomplishment Saferworld strongly welcomes.
In the 70 years since the United Nations (UN) was established “to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war”, the overall trend has been towards a more peaceful world. However, in recent years the incidence of armed conflicts – including outright wars – has increased sharply, putting longer-term advances in global peace at risk.
Meanwhile, the number of direct casualties from armed conflict has risen dramatically. In 2014, there were more conflict deaths than at any time since 1989. The protracted conflict in Syria accounts for many of these lost lives, but battle-related deaths increased substantially in other conflicts too: according to research by the Uppsala Conflict Data Program, of “the ten conflicts with the most fatalities in 2013, eight became more violent in 2014.”
Population displacement is also rising as a result of conflict and violence. The number of people forcibly displaced at the end of 2014 had risen to a staggering 59.5 million compared to 37.5 million a decade ago. Globally, one in every 122 humans is now either a refugee, internally displaced, or seeking asylum. If the total number of people displaced were the population of a country, it would be the world’s 24th biggest.
Widespread conflict and violence means development in reverse: all seven of the countries unlikely to meet a single Millennium Development Goal have been affected by high levels of violence. According to UNESCO, half of all children not in school live in countries affected by conflict, representing almost 29 million children.
Furthermore, extreme poverty is increasingly concentrated in countries at risk of conflict. It was estimated that in 2005, 20% of the world’s population living in absolute poverty were in conflict-affected and fragile states. By 2015, this proportion had more than doubled to 43%. By 2030, even under the best-case scenario, it is now estimated that 62% of the global poor will be located in conflict-affected and fragile states.
Ending extreme poverty and promoting sustainable development are the core aims of the 2030 Agenda. This won’t be achievable while violent conflict and insecurity persist. However, within its declaration, goals and targets, the 2030 Agenda articulates a universally agreed vision to address the complex roots that underpin today’s interlinked security, humanitarian and developmental crises.
Building peaceful, just and inclusive societies at local and national levels requires action on a number of fronts. A variety of actor groups have a role to play in implementation, mobilising a common effort, monitoring progress and providing feedback. While global processes will be critical for enabling action to promote peaceful, just and inclusive societies, at the end of the day, implementation of the 2030 Agenda will succeed or fail at the national level.
In our latest briefing, From Agreement to Action, we identify key targets for peace and highlight the priority next steps at both national and global levels.