A Sustainable and Peaceful Evening

Earlier this week, the Alliance for Peacebuilding co-sponsored an event on sustainable development at the United States Institute of Peace

to celebrate seventy years of peacebuilding at the United Nations.

The event featured Jan Eiliasson, Deputy Secretary-General of the UN and Kristalina Georgieva, Vice President for Budget and Human Resources of the European Commision, who focused on the UN’s recently approved sustainable development goals.

Not surprisingly, they focused on Goal 16 that incorporates peacebuilding into the mission of the UN an its member states.

But even more importantly, both speakers stressed that the sixteen goals have to be treated as an integrated whole because development, peacebuilding, the promotion of human rights, and the rest of the goals cannot be addressed separately if we are gong to get anywhere.

Even more importantly yet, they stressed the need to create a global culture supporting sustainable development that goes beyond the UN to include national governments, the NGO community, and the private sector.

Perhaps because they are both Europeans, the discussion also turned to the current migration crisis there. Both cited the cliche that we should never let a good crisis go to waste. So, they see the crisis as an opportunity for the UN, the EU, and others to build on the momentum created by the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals and find a way to transfer just a tiny fraction of the world’s economic output to helping the refugees achieve the kinds of success they had been able to achieve in their native Sweden and Bulgaria respectively.

In short, it was hard to not come away from the evening feeling encouraged and challenged at the same time. Yes, the UN took a major step forward in adopting the SDGs. Howerver, the UN alone can’t do the job. That’s up to the rest of us, starting with the three hundred or so people who filled the auditorium last night.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Alliance for Peacebuilding or its members.

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Originally published at wickedproblems.info on November 6, 2015.

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