Peace in Our Cities — Local Steps towards Halving Global Violence


On September 21st, the International Day of Peace, on the margins of the UN High-level week and the SDG Summit, we have launched ambitious campaign with the goal of reducing urban violence. To date, 11 cities and subnational authorities from all corners of the world, of varying sizes, facing different levels of violence, have committed to mobilizing further action to accelerate implementation of SDG16+ in cities.

By Bojan Francuz, Program Associate, Pathfinders for Peaceful, Just and Inclusive Societies, NYU Center on International Cooperation

Building the case

As urbanization grows steadily the challenges of urban life are increasing. Climate change poses an existential threat to many cities, capturing headlines around the world. Yet in many cities, violence poses an immediate and tangible danger to urban citizens, threatening their social and economic prosperity (especially for the most vulnerable), and receives far less attention.

Despite escalating violence, there is a new consensus that violence is a preventable epidemic. We have the knowledge, evidence, and tools to make our cities more peaceful, just, and inclusive. Emerging global coalitions are now focused on saving lives and increasing peace and safety in our cities.

Making a difference

Peace in Our Cities is a campaign facilitated by Pathfinders for Peaceful, Just and Inclusive Societies, Impact:Peace and +Peace. It’s a platform for city officials to highlight the urgent need to address urban violence, make bold commitments for action, and exchange tools and tactics to reduce and transform urban violence. (The Peace in Our Cities Campaign seeks to serve a similar function for violence reduction as the C-40 Cities Climate Leadership Group serves for the issue of climate change — a convener and catalyst, amplifying the calls for greater support of cities in reducing urban violence.)

11 cities and 6 partner organizations have signed the SDG16+ Action Pledge, becoming ‘early adopters’ and champions of an ambitious agenda to accelerate the implementation of SDG16+, particularly SDG16.1’s goal to significantly reduce all forms of violence everywhere. Their efforts will be supported by a growing list of partners and networks operating in violence reduction and prevention spaces.

This group is made up of cities of varying sizes: large metropolises, as well as mid-sized cities and sub-national authorities representing more than 15 million people. They are located across five continents, in countries with differing levels of violence. Each is eager to galvanize momentum toward one of the most critical challenges of our time — reducing global violence — and are committed to a 12-month long process of sharing best-practices and building a global platform to promote violence reduction.

Cities at the UN High-Level Week & SDG Summit

This September, Peace in Our Cities:

Creating a movement

Delivering on the promise of SDG16+ (and target 16.1), will require national and local governments to fulfill their promises to close the gap between aspirations and actions.

What will make an impact?

  • A successful global movement to halve all forms of violence (including conflict, interpersonal, violent extremism, etc.), of which the Peace In Our Cities campaign is one essential component.
  • New Acceleration Actions to combat global violence by governments and other stakeholders, helping to shepherd the delivery of SDG16+ as we enter the Decade of Delivery and Action in 2020.