Photo: Freya Morales / UNDP
The conference on SDG 16 and "peaceful, just, and inclusive societies" was held in Rome on 27-29 May in preparation for the High-Level Political Forum (HLPF) 2019. Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 16 aims to reduce conflict-related mortality, genocide, human exploitation, and physical, psychological, and sexual violence, and to restore the rule of law and justice – including in humanitarian settings. The conference concluded that conflict, violence, and fragility are among the biggest obstacles to the achievement of the SDGs. Moreover, it highlighted that SDG 16 is not just a goal in itself but also necessary for the implementation of all other SDGs and much of the 2030 Agenda. The findings and recommendations of the conference served as an integral input to the SDG 16 deliberations during the HLPF in July 2019 in New York.
The key message of the recently concluded HLPF 2019 is that the global response to implementing the SDGs has not been ambitious enough and needs a renewed commitment and accelerated action to achieve them by 2030. It was a significant event from a humanitarian and disaster risk reduction perspective, as it conducted an in-depth global review of SDG 13 on climate action and SDG 16 on peace and justice. It also reviewed SDG 17 on partnerships alongside the other SDGs – including SDG 4 on quality education, SDG 8 on decent work and economic growth, and SDG 10 on reducing inequalities.
The in-depth reviews of the SDGs during HLPF 2019 presented a grim scenario on the achievement of the SDGs and Agenda 2030 due to the interplay between existential risks such as climate change-induced disasters, conflicts, food insecurity, migration, inequalities, deprivation of already vulnerable groups, and gross violations of basic human rights in fragile areas. HLPF 2019 noted that no substantial progress has been made until now on SDG 16 on peace and justice, while SDG 13 on climate change is increasingly disrupting national economies and affecting lives. Related to SDG 17 on partnerships for the SDGs, it was highlighted that official development assistance (ODA) is down by 2.7% in 2018 compared to 2017, humanitarian aid fell by 8% in the same period, and aid to the least developed countries and African countries is declining.
47 countries presented Voluntary National Reviews (VNRs) at the HLPF, consisting of their experiences, successes, challenges, and lessons learned, with a view to accelerating the implementation of the SDGs under review. The VNRs seek to strengthen policies and institutions of governments and to mobilize multi-stakeholder support and partnerships for the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals.
The outcomes of HLPF will inform the SDG Summit in September 2019 and the Political Declaration. The SDG Summit will be attended by heads of states and governments to follow up and comprehensively review progress in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and all the 17 SDGs. The event is the first UN summit on the SDGs since the adoption of the 2030 Agenda in September 2015.