The United Nations’ New York Summit held in 2015 led to the adoption of 17 Sustainable Development Goals, or SDGs, with the promise to make the world a fairer, better, and safer place by 2030.
The RELX SDG Inspiration Day was the eighth in a series of engaging, interactive and stimulating events, with SDG 16 being the primary focus of the annual conclave. The event, held on May 9, 2022, brought together thought leaders, corporate representatives, investors, government, and NGOs to explore issues with practical engagement and ideas.
Organizations that partnered the event included the Ban Ki-moon Centre for Global Citizens; UN Global Compact Network UK; Global Citizen; the World Humanitarian Forum; the Responsible Media Forum; Schneider Electric; The Elsevier Foundation; and the LexisNexis Rule of Law Foundation.
SDG 16 focuses on promoting peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, providing access to justice for all and building effective, accountable, and inclusive institutions at all levels. It has the following targets:
- Significantly reduce all forms of violence and related death rates everywhere
- End abuse, exploitation, trafficking, and all forms of violence against and torture of children
- Promote the rule of law at the national and international levels and ensure equal access to justice for all
- By 2030, significantly reduce illicit financial and arms flows, strengthen the recovery and return of stolen assets, and combat all forms of organised crime
- Substantially reduce corruption and bribery in all their forms
- Develop effective, accountable, and transparent institutions at all levels
- Ensure responsive, inclusive, participatory, and representative decision-making at all levels
- Broaden and strengthen the participation of developing countries in the institutions of global governance
- By 2030, provide legal identity for all, including birth registration
- Ensure public access to information and protect fundamental freedoms, in accordance with national legislation and international agreements
The event discussed the role that businesses can play to further these objectives. The speakers at the event included Former Secretary General of the United Nations Ban Ki-moon, legendary musician Sir Bob Geldof, former Austrian President Heinz Fischer, former Director-General UNESCO Irina Bokova, and Co-Founder of Global Citizen Michael Sheldrick.
While speaking during his keynote, Sir Bob Geldof said that the biggest challenges facing the SDGs were human cynicism and extreme nationalism. “It is in our self-interest to make the SDGs work. It is in the self-interest of the world; the self-interest of business and politics; and the self-interest of the global economy – all of them will begin by embracing and working to achieve the 2030 SDGs”, he proclaimed.
Former Director-General UNESCO Irina Bokova, during her keynote speech, said that the COVID-19 pandemic, the war in Ukraine, and impact of food production due to climate change have impacted the 2030 SDGs – particularly SDG 16. “SDG 16 is about peace. It's about multilateralism, it's about strong institutions, both nationally and internationally, it is about justice”, she said.
Following the opening ceremony and the keynotes were a series of panel discussions. Experts on peace and security gave their views on how defence and SDG 16 share a symbiotic relationship and what are the current challenges to it.
The second discussion that addressed the challenges of operating out of a conflict zone, saw the speakers agreeing that there was always more a government or a business could do to support an NGO – not just through financial means, but also via corporate volunteering, charity, and opportunities to join panels such as the current one, as these relationships support NGOs in the long-term.
The final panel discussion that spoke of the role women played in helping achieve the SDGs addressed the need to bridge the ever-widening gender gap society still witnesses today. The speakers said that gender equality was not just a woman’s issue; it is a societal issue, which means that everyone should be engaged in equal measure. “Men and women working together in the spirit of partnership, to make a difference in terms of gender equality, and the outcomes of institutional processes”, they concluded.