Why Goal 16 matters more than you think

AGORA moderator's picture

On 25 September 2015, world leaders adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which includes a set of 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, fight inequality and injustice, and tackle climate change by 2030. And contrary to the MDGs (Millennium Development Goals), the SDGs are universal: they are a commitment on the part of developed and developing countries alike, aiming not to leave anyone behind.

The goals are the product of inter-governmental negotiations with inputs from citizens, civil society, academia, private sector, local and regional government, and so on. They represent a common intention to go forward and that’s what is important. Some may argue that there are too many SDGs, or that they lack precision and clear indicators. The truth is that our own realities differ one from another, so it’s our task to take these Global Goals and adapt them to our local situations, fixing our own targets and  monitoring the implementation.

Among these 17 goals, Goal 16 appears almost at the end of the list, but there are many reasons why this goal is important for the achievement of all other goals such as the elimination of hunger, poverty reducation and education for everyone everywhere.

« Goal 16 of the Sustainable Development Goals is dedicated to the promotion of peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, the provision of access to justice for all, and building effective, accountable institutions at all levels.”

UN High-Level Panel’s Report on the Post-2015 Development Framework places institutions at the centre of its analysis of what is needed to eliminate extreme poverty by 2030. Good governance is a core element of well-being, not an optional extra. The MDGs showed very well that most fragile states that lack peace and security did not meet all of their MDG commitments.

We can’t combat poverty globally without making states stronger and reducing the likelihood of civil wars, and thus a new focus on Goal 16 and the building of effective and accountable institutions is critical. 

Corruption, bribery, theft and tax evasion cost some US $1.26 trillion for developing countries per year; this amount of money could be used to lift those who are living on less than $1.25 a day above $1.25 for at least six years. Raising accountability and transparency of the state institutions would reduce these shocking figures and lead to more efficient implementation of the development policies and use of the aid received from donors. For that, parliaments and MPs’ participation is necessary.  Civil society should also be engaged, not only to achieve just and accountable institutions, but all other 16 Goals. 

There are many ways to do it and of course many others to be developed to move forward. Tunisian activists offer a good examples of how citizens can keep state institutions accountable. They developed an online platform which allows citizens to track the work of the parliament, making   information, such as budget analysis and the performance of officials, accessible to citizens. You can read more about it here.

In short, effective and legitimate institutions are an integral part of development progress. The interrelation between goals and targets is evident, and the successful implementation of Goal 16 will be essential in ensuring the progress on all other goals.

We suggest to visit AGORA’s Areas of Expertise to learn more about how parliament can use its functions of law-making, representation and oversight to help countries deliver on the SDGs.

This is a blog post by Veronika Verner, Intern at UNDP.