HLPF 2020 Newsletter


Welcome to your monthly roundup of 16+ news and views from the Pathfinders for Peaceful, Just and Inclusive Societies. If you find this newsletter useful, please pass it on to others working on the SDG16+ targets for peace, justice and inclusion. Subscribe or unsubscribe here. Visit our website: sdg16.plus and follow us on Twitter at: @SDG16Plus.

1. A message from the Director

We find ourselves in a peculiar time. When COVID-19 hit us, we said from the very outset that it was important to manage the pandemic through an SDG16+ lens: keeping a close eye on the state of actions for peace, justice and inclusion throughout the world, in the hope that we are not only able to get through this crisis, but also the recovery without creating additional socio-economic and political problems leading to more unrest and violence. We now find ourselves at increased risk of compounded crises, of mounting tensions at national levels, and of simultaneous geopolitical polarization on a global scale.

Parts of the world are opening again, others are experiencing the pressures of a virulent virus and buckling health systems, others a second wave. Parts of the world are gaining control and have started recovering. Others are feeling the pressures of increasing unemployment, hunger and desperation. More than ever, there is a need to address our collective challenges from the perspective of SDG16+ and to employ the tools necessary to work towards peace, justice for all and inclusion.

As we approach this year’s high-level political forum on sustainable development (HLPF), and as the upcoming General Assembly session and the UN’s 75th anniversary events are starting to become more defined, we are seeing polls confirming that large numbers of people do in fact value social protection, universal health systems, a collective approach to peace, justice and inclusion, as well as strengthened multilateral collaboration.

We are doing what we can to contribute forward-thinking solutions from the Pathfinders with a steady stream of facts, data, analysis and commentary addressing emerging challenges and opportunities related to SDG16+ and the ongoing pandemic. We are also using this time to gather information and examples of what works to fight this pandemic and to build back better. On a recent trip to the Republic of Korea this month, I saw first-hand the country’s fascinating and impressive management of the pandemic alongside all the work they are doing to advance the implementation of SDG16+. In the weeks and months to come, we will host and take part in several events during this year’s HLPF, and are planning to be a forceful presence in the events and milestone reporting marking the UN’s 75th anniversary in September. We consider this upcoming anniversary to be critically important because, in spite of all the insecurity we are living through now, we know that the world will continue to need the UN’s voice and leadership for another 75 years to come. To look back on the events that led to the UN’s establishment 75 years ago is a chilling reminder of the problems that we still face and need to address in present day. And we know that peace, justice and inclusion are crucial parts of the world we want to build. Have a good and safe summer, wherever you are!

2. Join us at HLPF: Sharing Economic Benefits — Social protection as a tool for building back better after COVID-19

The coronavirus pandemic has placed in sharp relief the urgent need for robust and flexible social protection systems. The Pathfinders for Peaceful, Just and Inclusive Societies has been collaborating with a number of governments from diverse income and geographical backgrounds to explore social protection policies that can address inequality and exclusion in a way that is both politically feasible and technically efficient. On July 7th at 12:00pm (ET), we are facilitating an event sponsored by Federal Republic of Ethiopia which will showcase some of the best examples of innovative approaches to action and delivery on social protection that have been implemented and will offer lessons for responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, and accelerating the achievement of the SDGs.

Testimonies of country experiences which will be provided by Ministers with knowledge of the relevant programs will be followed by a roundtable discussion which will include government representatives and participants from the World Bank’s Global Social Development Unit and OECD’s Inclusive Growth Unit.

Register for this event, here.

3. Join us at HLPF: Reducing urban violence and investing in peaceful societies

Well before COVID-19 hit, urban leaders were increasingly scaling and investing in evidence-based solutions to rapidly prevent and reduce violence. While the immediate fallout of the pandemic has hit cities the hardest, municipal leaders have taken immediate action to build safer, more resilient cities free of violence.

On July 15th at 1:00pm (ET), join the Pathfinders for a discussion between city leaders and community-based partners about how they are responding to fast-changing circumstances and the ways they are connecting to global networks to promote violence reduction.

The panelists will also share concrete examples of how cities and service providers are addressing gender-based violence, what protections they are putting in place to keep children safe, and how they are combatting violent extremism and fighting crime.

Register for this event, here.

4. UN75 and the opportunity ahead

(UN Photo / Mark Garten)

On June 23rd, the Pathfinders organized a virtual consultation with members of the Advisory Council of the Grand Challenge on Inequality and Exclusion, as well as a number of experts and collaborators and country representatives to provide input on how to address the challenge of inequality and exclusion in activities linked to the commemoration of the UN’s 75th Anniversary. The inputs from country representatives and policy experts will help inform the Secretary-General’s forthcoming report and follow-up activities. The takeaways from this virtual consultation will be expanded and elaborated upon during the upcoming meeting of the Advisory Council for the Grand Challenge of Inequality and Exclusion, which is scheduled to take place in late August 2020.

Participants reflected on how COVID-19 is also shedding light on previously hidden layers of vulnerability, and that response mechanisms need to be able to quickly adapt to the needs of populations not covered by traditional poverty eradication schemes. The discussion also highlighted the increased popularity of bolder and more ambitious policies to tackle the inequalities which have become increasingly apparent to citizens.

5. In case you missed it…

A selection of new reports, resources and commentaries from the Pathfinders and partners:

Justice for Women Amidst COVID-19:

This report, published by UN Women, The World Bank, IDLO, UNDP, UNODC, and the Pathfinders, with support from The Elders, gathers data and puts forth recommendations to accelerate action and increase justice for women in the current context. For highlights outlining the pandemic’s effect on women and girls, and the policy measures needed to mitigate its impact on their lives and livelihoods, read a new companion blog by the report’s author, Jeni Klugman.

Building back better with stockpiles of trust and social capital:

After COVID-19, how will societies face future crises? In this blog, Pathfinders’ director, Liv Tørres, examines the importance of seizing this moment to strengthen social capital — societies’ trust in leaders and institutions, their shared sense of identity and values — as a critical investment in future resilience.

Social unrest could undo or renew America:

In a new blog, Liv Tørres and Rob Muggah explore how the current unrest in the wake of the murder of George Floyd and the COVID-19 pandemic, could be an opportunity for the US to emerge stronger than before.

From COVID-19 to shared prosperity:

In a recent blog, Sanjay G. Reddy and Pathfinders’ Michael Higgins explore how broadening the distribution of rights over productive assets could make societies more inclusive and sustainable.

The Canadian poverty law clinic that kept putting people first during a pandemic:

As more people around the world face poverty as a result of COVID-19, their vulnerability to justice problems has increased dramatically, as well. One free legal clinic rose to the challenges posed by the pandemic, while keeping people first. In the latest edition of our justice Champions of Change series, we spoke with the Executive Director of the Community Advocacy & Learning Centre, Michele Leering, to learn how the clinic adapted to the crisis.

Plus 16 things we’re reading

  1. Gender Perspectives in Arms Control and Disarmament: Views from Africa (UNIDIR)
  2. A pandemic is not the time for reforming judicial nominations in Guatemala (ILAC)
  3. Senior UN Leaders Speak Out on Injustice of Racism (IISD)
  4. Calls for Police Reform Are Getting Louder — Here Is How to Do It (Robert Muggah and Thomas Abt in Foreign Policy)
  5. The Twin Crises of Public Health and the Rule of Law (World Justice Project)
  6. Multilateralism offers hope for a sea-change after COVID-19 (The Elders’ Mary Robinson Op-Ed in The Hill)
  7. In My Own Words: As a Doctor, Here’s What We Need to Make Health Systems LGBTQ+ Inclusive (Global Citizen)
  8. The all-women law firm helping prisoners get justice in Nigeria (Al Jazeera)
  9. Covid-19 has gifted us a chance to end gender-based violence. We must take it (The Elders’ Graça Machel Op-Ed in The Guardian)
  10. Senior Appointments at the UN: Using Data for Greater Transparency (NYU CIC)
  11. Existential Threats: Former Presidents on COVID-19, Justice, War and the Climate Crisis (Finding Humanity Podcast)
  12. Global Governance: Former World Leaders on Collective Responsibility, The Future of Multilateralism and The United Nations (Finding Humanity Podcast)
  13. Report: Addressing violence against children, women and older people during the covid-19 pandemic: Key actions (WHO)
  14. How the Law Can Empower Victims of COVID-19 (Open Society Justice Initiative)
  15. Justice in a Global Emergency (Diego García-Sayán, Allyson Maynard-Gibson, Willy Mutunga in Global Dashboard)
  16. Will COVID-19 Widen the Gender Justice Gap? (Sandie Okoro and Paul Prettitore in Project Syndicate)