Mary Robinson Keynotes High Level Panel "Achieving Peaceful, Just and Inclusive Societies for Sustainable Development: Converting words into actions" at UN General Assembly in New York
Mary Robinson spoke today at the UN General Assembly in New York about the vital importance of Sustainable Development Goal 16 to fully realising the 2030 Agenda and the full implementation of all Global Goals. In her keynote speech at the High-level Side Panel Achieving Peaceful, Just and inclusive Societies for Sustainable Development: Converting words into actions, Robinson stressed that the agreements made in 2015 – the Sustainable Development Agenda and the Paris Agreement on Climate Change – have “given the global community the best opportunity yet to avoid climate change, to end poverty and to enable all people to live lives underpinned by dignity and human rights.” President Robinson went on to discuss the linkages between G16, G10 Reduced Inequality and G5 Gender Equality, the importance of promoting human rights, equality and women's participation and leadership, and the central role these three goals have in achieving every one of the other Global Goals. "Gender equality is a crucial part of all Sustainable Development Goals. We cannot achieve peaceful, just and inclusive societies without equality."
Citing the poet Seamus Heaney's famous lines, “if you have the words, there’s always a chance that you’ll find the way,” Robinson said that these crucial agreements have given us the words, and now we need to find the way to implement them. "We know that sustainable development is not possible without action on climate change, and climate action is not possible without sustainable development. Critically, neither is possible without the rule of law and access to justice, for all. For me, climate change is fundamentally a question of justice." Mary Robinson, 22 September 2016.
Today's high-level event 'Peaceful, Just, and Inclusive Societies for Sustainable Development: Delivering on the 2030 Agenda' launched the ‘Global Alliance for Reporting Progress on Promoting Peaceful, Just, and Inclusive Societies,' which aims to harness the strengths and resources of members to support reporting on the achievement of Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 16 and its interlinkages with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development as a whole. The Permanent Missions of Cabo Verde, Mexico, Norway, Qatar, Sierra Leone and Tunisia to the UN organised the High-Level Launch Event and UN Development Programme will serve as facilitator for the Global Alliance.
Goal 16 of the Sustainable Development Goals is ground-breaking in its acknowledgement of the failures previously to reduce poverty due to conflict and insecurity globally. It is perhaps even more ambitious than many of the other Goals, setting out a framework for peaceful societies, justice for all and good governance – to make peace lasting and sustainable. Within the Goal, targets focus on quite disparate but interlinked aims of ending all violence globally, eliminating child trafficking, torture and violence, reducing illicit arms and financial flows, universal birth registration transparency and accountability of institutions and full participation in decision. Helen Clark, Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), stated today “The aspirations of sustaining peace and sustaining development are intrinsically linked: we will not have one without the other. This is true not only within a country – in our highly interconnected world, violent conflict in one country has implications for others near and far, as we have seen with the current record numbers of refugees and internally displaced people,” (Clark's full speech can be found here).
Goal 16: Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels.
At The Mary Robinson International Symposium 2016, in July, we focussed on two interlinked targets within Goal 16 – the elimination of all forms of violence and the importance of responsive, participatory and representative participation in decision-making at all levels. Both of these targets have particular relevance for gender equality and connect ending all violence to building a sustainable peace. If you would like to see the panel President Robinson referred to in her speech at the UN today, you can watch it below. The rest of the panels at the two-day International Symposium can be found on our YouTube Channel here.