Friday, February 12, 2016

Setting off on the right track for Goal 16, by Sarah LISTER

At midnight on New Year’s Eve, I was standing on a rooftop in Central London. Like many others, I made some personal resolutions, hoping that setting some goals would help me be healthier and happier in the coming year.  However, as the bells chimed and the fireworks exploded, this year I also raised a glass to the ‘peaceful, inclusive and strong institutions’ of Sustainable Development Goal 16, as the 2030 Agenda came into force. But if the pathway to achieving personal goals is sometimes tough, how much more daunting is the achievement of the vision laid out in SDG 16? The seemingly endless and increasing violence, hatred and exclusion we see in the world around us and the size and complexity of the task inevitably make us question those moments of hope and visionary optimism when we have committed ourselves to better things. Yet, just as there are ways to keep our personal resolutions on track, so I think that there are concrete ways to ensure that, in this first critical year of the 2030 Agenda, good foundations are laid for the progressive achievement of Goal 16. 

Firstly, we need to ensure a measurement framework that both supports an understanding of progress on the aspects that really matter and, crucially, enables governments and people to work together to achieve this. The measurement of governance and peace is far from straightforward, but enormous progress has been made in recent years and experiences from across the globe show that it is both methodologically feasible and useful to do so. Building on the work of many experts and wide consultation, the United Nations Statistical Commission’s Inter-Agency and Expert Group on SDG Indicators (IAEG-SDGs) is working to define the set of indicators that will form the backbone of the measurement that will be essential to ensure the envisaged transformation. UNDP has convened a network of experts to support that process and great progress has already been made in putting together a measurement framework for SDG 16. A few days ago, on the outskirts of Oslo, UNDP’s Oslo Governance Centre, and the Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO), hosted representatives from National Statistical Offices, UN agencies, research and other organizations who considered the arguments for and against some of the indicators still under discussion, and their relevance for both global and national frameworks. 

Secondly, we swiftly need to support efforts to implement Goal 16 at national and sub-national levels. UNDP is committed to supporting Member States do this through an approach we call MAPS (mainstreaming, acceleration and policy support). Our country offices, supported by regional hubs and headquarters and in coordination with the UN system will assist governments and others to raise public awareness and ensure many stakeholders are involved in implementing the Goals. They will work with them to tailor the SDGs to national, sub-national and local contexts, supporting horizontal and vertical policy coherence, as well as the budgeting, monitoring, reporting and risk assessment that will be necessary.  In practice this means that UN country teams in many countries across all regions are already in dialogue with national counterparts about what SDG16 means in their context, and how to ensure national planning processes support its achievement.

Thirdly, we need to ensure momentum and coherence in international efforts to support the realisation of Goal 16 in development contexts. In coordination with other parts of the UN system, UNDP wants to play an active role in the coordination process alongside partners of all kinds – Member States, Parliaments, civil society, the private sector, and others, as well as the many different forums which already have a role to play in the Goal’s implementation. We want to support a “big tent” approach which will allow all of those in the Goal 16 community to work together, without adding an additional layer of bureaucracy and complexity to the work of other forums.  Here in Oslo we have already started a small initiative that will contribute to this. The Oslo Governance Centre is convening an informal SDG16 Nordic network, to enable information sharing between interested Nordic entities.  

Last Monday has been dubbed ‘Blue Monday’- supposedly the most depressing day of the year, at least for those of us who live in Northern climes. It is said that after the holiday season and the positive energy of setting new goals for a new year, the harshness of winter and the grim reality of all the hard work that lies ahead can make us dispirited, tempting us to give up on our hopeful resolutions altogether. The enormity of the task we face in relation to SDG 16 could do the same. But let us plot the path ahead together – keeping track of our progress, supporting implementation where it matters and ensuring coherence and momentum. UNDP’s Oslo Governance Centre is excited to be a part of ensuring that we set off on the right track for Goal 16 this year.  

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