Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development

July 21, 2021

The Goal of SDG 16 is 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.” It seeks to reduce the numbers killed in armed conflicts, and to address the drivers and numbers of those fleeing war, persecution, and conflict. Peaceful, just, and inclusive societies remain all too elusive and there is a need to create institutions that can help achieve the broad aim of SDG 16 and to meet its targets. Building and creating institutions that are independent, robust and can be inclusive and accountable can help societies better deal with issues such as corruption, homicide, violence, trafficking, and other problems.  Creating an enabling environment whereby trust in institutions that are independent and accountable is high, allows for issues and problems to be addressed in a more rounded way that is likely to achieve better outcomes all round.

The problems and challenges that relate to SDG 16 are conveyed well in terms of the various targets to be addressed. Some of the targets to be adddressed by SDG 16 include:

  • 'Promote the rule of law at national and international levels and ensure equal access to justice for all' (Target 16.3)
  • 'Substantially reduce corruption and bribery in all their forms' (Target 16.5)
  • 'Develop effective, accountable and transparent institutions at all levels' (Target 16.6)
  • 'Ensure responsive, inclusive, participatory and representative decision making at all levels' (Target 16.7)

Adopting a top-down approach to target setting in order to address the overall goal of SDG 16 requires careful monitoring, a strategy that can be implemented, and the ability to work with others. It also requires an approach that involves working with institutions at the bottom of the pyramid, as well as facilitating the creation of new ones that can address problems, as well as enable and empower those with little or no voice to speak up and act. Working collaboratively and in partnership with others is in itself a powerful and enabling tool. Universities have a role to play in terms of training, and education. The voluntary sector also has an important part to play in terms of helping to deliver on specific targets. Institutions of the state such as local and national government, as well as the judiciary and adminstration (e.g. civil service) need to be independent and enabled to scrutinise, be impartial and challenge without favour.  Building capacity and capability at all levels, and allowing for broader civic engagement is important in tackling sustainability issues.


UN SDG 16: