September 2019 Newsletter – Accelerating Action for SDG16+


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 — and check out the website.

1. Action, action, action

The UN is famously good at words — the 2030 Agenda has nearly 15,000 of them. But there’s much more skepticism about whether these words translate into meaningful change in people’s lives.

But that’s what the SDG Summit is supposed to achieve.

  • If you’ve followed Pathfinders newsletters, you’ll know that leaders are asked to come to the summit to “mobilize further actions to accelerate implementation.”
  • The UN has launched a registry where any government or partner can register an Acceleration Action on any SDG.
  • The focus on Acceleration Actions will continue as part of a new Decade of Action on the SDGs (expect an announcement on that from the Secretary-General when he speaks at the summit)…
  • …And as the UN launches global conversation on closing the gap between where we’re heading as world (nowhere good) and where we want to be.

Has your government or organization registered an Acceleration Action on SDG16+? If you have, tell us about it — so we can promote it at the summit. If you haven’t, consider submitting one in the coming weeks and months, as we respond to the call for greater ambition, a bolder mobilization, and a new commitment to transformative change.

(And for more on what to expect from the SDG Summit and beyond — read our briefing.)

2. Accelerating action on inequality & exclusion

In line with the UN Secretary-General’s call for a Decade of Action and Delivery, Pathfinders are registering the Grand Challenge on Inequality and Exclusion as an Acceleration Action. There are currently many constraints in implementing policies that reduce inequality and exclusion, because of a lack of evidence, policy alternatives, vision and political consensus.

The work of the Grand Challenge which seeks to identify practical and politically viable solutions to inequality and exclusion will address these gaps by producing a comprehensive report and suite of policy options for decision-makers in the areas of political and social cohesion; fiscal compromises, innovative social protection; decent work and incomes for all, and reducing spatial inequality. For more on this Grand Challenge, read the Challenge Paper.

3. Accelerating action on peaceful societies

After the SDG Summit, expect to hear a lot more from Pathfinders as we build support for a movement to halve global violence. (More on that in this Newsletter.)

But where should we look for accelerated action on preventing violence and building safe societies? Here’s some thoughts:

  • The Secretary-General’s prevention agenda (mostly focused on conflict), the World Bank’s forthcoming Fragility, Conflict, and Violence strategy, and the joint UN-WB framework for prevention set out in Pathways for Peace.
  • And the countries that these and other global partners are supporting to prevent or recover from conflict, with an important role for the African Union, g7+, and other cross-country platforms.
  • Cities whose mayors who are coming together to call for halving urban violence. So far, these include mayors from Bangui (Central African Republic) Bogota (Colombia), Cali (Colombia), Escobedo (Mexico), Guadalajara (Mexico), Los Angeles (US), and Tripoli (Lebanon).
  • Countries being funded through the Spotlight Initiative to eliminate violence against women.
  • The pathfinder countries within the Global Partnership to End Violence against Children and the countries that have signed up to the Safe to Learn call to action.
  • Governments and other partners working to tackle specific forms of violence and abuse, such as modern slavery or FGM.

By September 2020, we hope that 100 countries will have made at least one commitment to accelerate action to end violence.

4. Accelerating action on justice

Minister Garavano of Argentina, Minister Kaag of The Netherlands, Minister Schwartz of Sierra Leone and Hina Jilani of The Elders, wrote in Newsweek that while we have a long way to go before the promise of justice for all by 2030 can be achieved, “we possess the tools, knowledge and strategies needed to accelerate progress.”

As the co-chairs of the Task Force on Justice, they are leading the way in announcing Acceleration Actions for the SDGs ahead of the summit.

  • Argentina puts people at the center of the justice system. They will strengthen the Centers for Access to Justice to generate legal empowerment, conclude the second survey on unmet justice needs, and will promote justice for all as a priority within the Open Government Partnership, which Argentina chairs this year.
  • The Netherlands has committed to double the number of people to whom they provide access to justice through their development assistance by next year, and half of them will be women.
  • Sierra Leone has chaired the first-ever meeting of Ministers of Justice of the g7+ on access to justice in conflict-affected countries which agreed to a joint action plan. Participating countries will adopt a national access to justice strategy focused on people’s justice needs, improve data collection, align national indicators with global indicators and include a review of access to justice in their next Voluntary National Review.
  • The Elders have pledged to stand with those who pioneer access to justice, and challenge the influence of those who oppose it. They will amplify the voices of grassroots activists and civil society and engage with heads of state and policymakers. They call on governments, civil society actors, and the international community to invest in justice and work together bridge the justice gap and leave no on behind.
  • At a recent launch of the Justice for All report at the Asia Pro Bono Conference in Nepal, Hina Jilani of The Elders and co-chair of the Task Force, brought this message to the largest annual gathering of persons supporting and engaged in access to justice, pro bono and public interest law in Asia. She challenged participants, “to establish a broad coalition of justice actors in Asia that commit to a people centered approach to access to justice.”

In this call to action the co-chairs of the Task Force on Justice call on other countries and organizations to Act now for Justice for All!

5. The ‘Biggest Call’

SDG16+ partners joined for a third in a series of calls (Big-Bigger-the Biggest!) which have preceded major high-level political events. The Biggest Call took place less than two weeks ahead of the SDG Summit, and featured a strong call for Acceleration Actions on SDGs.

Missed the call? Check out the recording, and main highlights here. And:

6. Pathfinders reception

Join us in ushering in a decade of action and delivery on SDG16+ during our high-level SDG16+ reception on Tuesday, 24th September at 6pm-9:30pm. The event will feature leaders, ministers, and SDG16+ champions announcing new acceleration actions on peace, justice, and inclusion, as well as set the foundation for closing the gap between our aspirations and current realities in the lead up to the 75th anniversary of the UN. It also serves as an open-platform for the broader SDG16+ community to showcase their efforts towards accelerating further action on SDG16+, with stations spotlighting feature partners and organizations.

Space is limited, so please register. Attendees without a UN Ground Pass must be on the guest list to enter. Register on Eventbrite.

7. A challenge paper on inequality & exclusion

The Challenge Paper on the Grand Challenge of Inequality and Exclusion offers a guiding framework for the Grand Challenge’s cosponsoring countries and partners, and is the first step towards identifying technically sound and politically viable solutions to reverse the trends of rising inequality, experiences of exclusion, and political grievance. It covers a range of policy areas such as political participation; spatial inclusion; technological change and the future of work; fiscal reform; and the links between gender equality and generalized equality. Stay tuned for an updated version of the paper to be published in the coming weeks, which will inform additional research, policy recommendations, and action on tackling inequality and exclusion.

8. Inequality & Exclusion Advisory Council heads to Mexico City

Members of the Advisory Council for the Grand Challenge of Inequality and Exclusion will meet for the first time in Mexico City on September 30th, to discuss preliminary findings to reverse trends of inequality and exclusion.

The Advisory Council will continue to meet on a bi-annual basis to provide guidance on research and emerging policy recommendations, and to foster their role as champions for the Grand Challenge. Acting as spokespeople through their respective networks, they will be able to bring together international, regional, national, and local entities working on these issues in order to strengthen the partnership for implementation to build equal and inclusive societies.

9. Setting the stage for a movement to halve global violence by 2030

Behind the scenes, Pathfinders are working closely with various violence prevention communities on building a far-reaching movement to halve global violence by 2030. This September, Pathfinders and World Vision International, with the support of the office of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Violence Against Children and Global Partnership to End Violence Against Children brought together major stakeholders in the ending violence against children space, to map out next steps to scale and advance this work.

In addition, we also engaged in conversations with the Auschwitz Institute for Peace and Reconciliation (AIPR) to begin planning the ways on how the human rights and mass atrocities prevention community can contribute to ongoing efforts to halve global violence by 2030 and Acceleration Actions on implementing SDG 16.1.

10. Peace in Our Cities Campaign

The Pathfinders are collaborating with +Peace and Impact:Peace to launch the Peace in Our Cities campaign aiming to galvanize a movement of people, mayors and city governments to halve and transform urban violence by 2030. On the International Day of Peace, Sept 21st, and during the UN High-Level Week, representatives of early adopter cities will sign Peace in Our Cities SDG16 Action Pledge and commit to participating in a 12-month initiative, where they will share best practices and Acceleration Actions towards achieving SDG16.1 and SDG16+ in an urban context.

11. +Peace launch

Pathfinders will be celebrating The International Day of Peace on Sept 21st, 2019 with a vibrant group of peacebuilding organizations coming together for the Peace Day Celebration and +Peace Launch event in New York City, from 4:30–8:30pm at the SAP Leonardo Center at 10 Hudson Yards.

Join us for an interactive program and cocktail hour, and stop by the Pathfinders booth to learn about Peace in Our Cities campaign and make an individual pledge on how you will work to halve global violence in urban areas.

12. SDG Butterfly Effect Campaign

The SDG Butterfly Effect is a global campaign by the UN SDG Action Campaign where everyone around the world is invited to play their part in creating a better world through positive day to day actions and commitments. Answering the SG’s call for a ‘Decade of Action’ the campaign will be kicked off by 17 high profile influencers who will start the “Global Butterfly Effect” across a number of key SDG16+ themes through a short commitment video wearing augmented reality butterfly wings.

The SDG16 wing will be revealed on 21st Sept at the Peace One Day Concert in London, and then promoted across the UN SDG Action Campaign Channels as well as through content partnership with SAWA, Cannes Lions, Paralympics and at key moment at the UN Summits including the UN General Assembly.

The SDG16 wing will be launched at the high-level SDG16+ reception on Tuesday, 24 September. We’re encouraging the SDG16+ community to win their wings as part of this global movement.

13. Other SDG16+ Events

In addition to Pathfinders’ planned high-level reception, a number of side-events related to SDG16+ are planned in the next few weeks. Visit our SDG Summit Events page to learn more about upcoming events, or download our SDG16+ Events App.

Upcoming events include:

  • Peace Day Party & +Peace Launch (Saturday, September 21 | 4:30pm | SAP Leonard Center, 10 Hudson Yards)
  • Launch of the Organised Crime Index for Africa (Tuesday, September 24 | 1pm — 3pm | Scandinavian House, 58 Park Avenue)
  • Corporate America Advances Goal 16 (Tuesday, September 24 | 3–5pm |1 Rockefeller Plaza)
  • OECD Launch of Global Hub on Governance (25 September | 8–9.30am | Location TBC)
  • Private Sector Engagement, Financing Justice for All and the Rule of Law (October | Location TBC)

14. Justice Champions of Change: The prisoners who learn the law to become justice changemakers

Founded in 2007, African Prisons Project works in Uganda and Kenya to bring justice to the most vulnerable.

The organisation’s Justice Changemaker program provides education and legal advice that assists prisoners to know the law and use it to represent themselves at hearings. It also trains prison officers to respond to prisoners’ needs and empower them to resolve their cases. Many prisoners go on to become educators themselves, supporting their peers to manage their own cases and represent themselves in court.

More than 3,000 people have been released from prison after receiving services provided by African Prisons Project students. Many students have gone on to acquire legal qualifications so that they can help others to secure fairer outcomes and advocate for more just laws.

In this edition of our Justice Champions of Change series, we interviewed Peter Tibigambwa, Regional Director, and Matteo Cassini, Community Development Manager, to find out more.

Read the interview here.

15. Justice Champions of Change: Amsterdam’s Ombudsman

In 2018, Arre Zuurmond, the ombudsman of Amsterdam, made international headlines when he moved to the city center, to experience first-hand what normal people living in the red-light district endure. For years the city’s residents had complained to the ombudsman about noise, crime, disturbances related to sex work and drugs, and the excesses of tourism. For years the municipality had done little to address these problems. By living in the district, Zuurmond could see problems up close, interact directly with the neighborhood’s residents and invite officials over to show them the complaints were justified. Zuurmond’s approach to solving people’s problems provides evidence on how people-centered justice can lead to structural improvements and better justice outcomes.

For the latest edition of our Justice Champions of Change series, Pathfinders’ Maaike de Langen interviewed Arre Zuurmond about going the distance to help people solve their problems, create people-centered public services and build just societies.

Read the interview here.

16. Fighting Violence with Evidence

Violence is on the rise globally, but it doesn’t have to be. In fact, the world possesses the knowledge, tools, institutional structures, legal instruments, and data-collection capacity to halve violence, in all its forms, within a decade. Read a new piece by Pathfinders’ David Steven and the new Director of Impact:Peace (and Pathfinders’ alum) Rachel Locke in Project Syndicate.

Plus… 16 things we’re reading:

  1. Want an overview of all the SDG-related events happening during the UN General Assembly? Explore the UNGA Guide 2019.
  2. An inspiring op-ed in Newsweek by the co-chairs of the Task Force on Justice
  3. A great example of action to accelerate delivery of justice for all on the ground in Argentina
  4. Saferworld’s briefing on how to invest in SDG16+
  5. The Peacebuilding Fund’s publication on Peacebuilding Investment in the SDGs
  6. David Steven’s blog on what to expect at the SDG Summit
  7. Explore the World Bank’s immersive story on what it will take to deliver SDG16.9 to a billion people globally without proof of ID
  8. HiiL’s blog on collecting justice data in Ethiopia as it prepares its first Justice Needs and Satisfaction report
  9. An inspiring speech by Dutch Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation and Task Force co-chair, Sigrid Kaag, on justice for all
  10. Explore the Justice for All Campaign’s “Missing” campaign and enter a ‘tip’ to help crack the case of missing access to justice around the world
  11. The Elders call for action on #JusticeForAll in this video
  12. Action for Sustainable Development’s statement on ‘Why we stand together now’, demanding action for the SDGs at the SDG Summit
  13. Pathfinders’ Maaike de Langen’s take in PeaceLab on how closing the justice gap will help prevent violent conflict and instability
  14. And her take (in Dutch) on the movement for justice for all at the 2019 HLPF
  15. A blog on ‘How can we support communities trying to protect their land and natural resources?’
  16. Curious about what happened during HLPF? Read our HLPF 2019 summary