Sustainable Development Goal 16:  Welcome to “The Enabler”!

by | Sep 1, 2021 | Formation, Vincentian Family at the U.N.

A summer blockbuster movie?  No, and not just another Sustainable Development Goal, but the one that facilitates the realization of all the others: Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions.  Talk about pressure!  Without peaceful inclusive societies, without a broad sense of basic justice, without accountable institutions, there will be very limited progress, at best, on all 17 SDGs.

It would be so much easier if we could simply drill down on one Goal, any one of the 17—say hunger–, understand it fully and go about fixing the issue permanently.  But that is not possible.  As we’ve said so often in this series, the 17 goals are inter-connected and mutually affect each other:  energy…climate…food…health…

Even pre-COVID, and despite international law, so many people died daily from armed conflicts.  Already in 2019 the number of migrants and refugees fleeing war, persecution and conflict exceeded 79.5 million, the highest level recorded.  And the pandemic with its panic and uncertainty worldwide, its revelations of broken response systems and vaccine nationalism only further exacerbated global peace and security as it elevated levels of suffering for the more vulnerable among us.

Alarmingly, the implementation of #16 looks grim.  With the rise in extreme nationalism and xenophobia, democracy worldwide has taken a few steps back.  Many of the 12 Targets of this SDG are in decline, e.g. fighting corruption, building transparency.  The 10-year trend on growing civic space and participation has stalled.

Here is something to contemplate.  On the one hand, the SDGs, this UN 2030 Agenda for People and the Planet, in some quarters is seen as important enough to be listed as a key document alongside the United Nations Charter, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Paris Agreement on Climate Action.  Heady company indeed!

Yet on the other hand, in the Voluntary National Review process of countries presenting on the SDG process in-country, we sometimes find backward movement when governments report honestly (without the fluff often accompanying Member statements of every kind).  So while the 12 targets are clear, and the 634 suggested actions compelling, the challenge is reduced to simply ask a country “What is your Plan to Restart the Process of Implementing the Agenda”?

Jim Claffey
NGO representative of the CM to the UN
Twitter: @cmunnyc
Facebook: congregation of the mission un



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