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Peace and the 2030 Agenda

The adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which includes peace as a cross-cutting issue, is a major achievement. However, a strong commitment to implementation is necessary in order for the new framework to help prevent violence and insecurity.

At a high-level summit in September 2015, UN member states adopted the new global development framework: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (previously called the post-2015 Agenda). The framework sets out universal goals and targets to guide sustainable development and poverty reduction over the next 15 years.

In recognition of the impact of violence and insecurity on development, the 2030 Agenda includes peace as a cross-cutting issue as well as Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 16, to 'Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels'.

With a sharp increase in armed conflicts in recent years and with 62% of those in extreme poverty estimated to be living in countries at risk from high levels of violence by 2030, concerted efforts are needed in order to respond to these interlinked challenges. The 2030 Agenda’s strong focus on conflict prevention, particularly in Goal 16, could make the 2030 Agenda meaningful for people living under violence and insecurity.

However, in order for the new development framework to purposefully help prevent violent conflict and insecurity, all stakeholders need to demonstrate a strong commitment to implementation. This includes identifying national indicators for the SDG targets and collecting data to track and uphold the ambitions set out in Goal 16. In addition, as priorities to fit each context are defined, inclusive consultations at the national level need to be held in order to put people’s needs at the forefront of development.

Although implementation of the 2030 Agenda will primarily be driven through action at national level, global processes will need to be leveraged in order enable national-level action. This should include building a global partnership that brings together supporters of peaceful, just and inclusive societies, providing context-specific support, addressing transnational drivers of conflict such as illicit financial flows and strengthening non-official and official data collection capacities.

Implementation and monitoring: the way ahead

With agreement on the 2030 Agenda in place, our work is currently focused on ensuring that the inclusion of peaceful and inclusive societies in the 2030 Agenda can be translated into action. This includes:

  • Political buy-in: Working with supportive member states, UN agencies and civil society to generate political buy-in and prioritisation of Goal 16 on peaceful, just and inclusive societies at both national and international levels.
  • Implementation: Providing technical advice to support the implementation of Goal 16, for example by mapping out how Goal 16 implementation can be aligned with national development plans and holding workshops with donor agencies.
  • Indicators and data: Continuing to work with relevant partners to help develop global indicators that will effectively demonstrate progress in meeting targets that are relevant to peace, governance and justice – and thinking about how to build data-gathering capacities.

Our role in putting peace at the centre of the 2030 Agenda

Rapid response to the negotiation process

Saferworld has produced numerous in-depth research and analytical outputs on the inclusion of peace, governance and justice in the 2030 Agenda. Using this evidence base as a foundation of our advocacy, we have engaged extensively with supporters in order to ensure their continued strong support for the peace agenda. We have provided technical expertise and advice on how the peace agenda can be supported and promoted. For example, we provided detailed analysis and policy options to the Open Working Group process and the formal negotiation process and have provided timely comments on key developments, such as the UN Secretary General’s synthesis report. We have also presented on the topic at numerous meetings such as UN General Assembly thematic debates.

Emerging global actors and the 2030 Agenda

Due to their rapid economic growth and/or their regional influence, Brazil, China, India, South Africa and Turkey all play a significant role, both on the world stage as well as in developing countries and conflict-affected states. Indeed, these emerging global actors were key to developing and agreeing a credible development framework, which addresses the needs and concerns of people living under violence and insecurity.

For the last three years, Saferworld conducted in-depth research on the policies and positions of these countries through the project “Rising Powers and Post-2015”. We also engaged in policy dialogue on peace and the 2030 Agenda with policymakers, civil society representatives, think tanks and academics from these countries – connecting them with both OECD actors and representatives from conflict-affected states.

All of the emerging actors with whom Saferworld engaged through our project ultimately supported the inclusion of Goal 16 and the strong focus on peace in the 2030 Agenda. Saferworld will continue to engage in these countries on their role in implementation.

Working with others

Saferworld has promoted a focus on peace in the 2030 Agenda through key networks such as the CSO Platform on Peacebuilding and StatebuildingBeyond 2015, BOND and the Transparency, Accountability and Participation (TAP) Network. We have organised dialogue with, and set out policy options for senior officials and ministers, working with partners such as the Centre for International Cooperation, Quaker UN office and the European Union.

Recognising the crucial role played by civil society in ensuring their governments’ support of the peace agenda, Saferworld has supported society actors to participate in UN debates in New York, providing technical inputs and coordinating dialogue between them and key policy makers across the world.

Additionally, we have supported other key advocates of the peace agenda beyond the traditional donor community including the g7+ countries and the African Union, who both identified the inclusion of peace in the 2030 Agenda as a priority during the negotiations. This engagement has included advocacy and coordination efforts as well as technical input at capital and New York levels.

Indicators and data

Working with partners in the UN and civil society, Saferworld has helped convene an international network of policy experts and statisticians to discuss options for measuring progress on peace in the 2030 Agenda. We have conducted independent research and developed thinking around the creation of a measurement framework and a set of indicators that will effectively demonstrate progress in meeting targets that are relevant to peace, governance and justice.

We have also contributed to ensuring that efforts to measure progress on the 2030 Agenda are not overly focused on the role of national statistics offices (NSOs), and that third parties such as NGOs, research organisations and multilateral agencies have a recognised role in data collection. We are on the Steering Group of the Praia Group on Governance, Peace and Security Statistics.

Implementing the 2030 Agenda

Evidence for the inclusion of peace

Measuring progress on the 2030 Agenda

The 2030 Agenda and  emerging Global Actors

Gender and the 2030 Agenda

The process

Background papers

Featured projects

 The SDG16 Data Initiative

A coalition of international organisations – including Saferworld– launched a website that tracks progress toward Sustainable Development Goal 16, which commits leaders to promoting ‘peaceful and inclusive societies’.


Gender, peace and security and the SDGs in South Africa

This report demonstrates how the 2030 Agenda - in particular Goals 5 and 16 - provides a valuable tool for advancing the gender, peace and security agenda in South Africa.

Building peaceful, just and inclusive societies through the 2030 Agenda

This briefing, produced in September 2015, highlights what Saferworld sees as some of the key targets for achieving peace through the 2030 Agenda.