SDG 16 is critical for parliaments and parliaments are critical for SDG 16. Parliaments are the place where laws and policies - including on peace, justice and inclusion - are debated and adopted. By regularly holding public hearings, requesting clarifications directly from government and requesting reports from plenary sessions, parliaments can bring the SDGs to the attention of the public and the media, thereby encouraging accountability at all levels. In turn, parliaments are themselves part of the governance system of a country and require a peaceful, just and inclusive governance system to represent people and play their role in the political decision-making process.

The relevance of parliaments for peaceful, just and inclusive societies is illustrated by the fact that member states made the inclusiveness of national and local legislative (and other public) bodies the global indicator to measure SDG target 16.7 on responsive, inclusive, participatory and representative decision-making.

Parliaments are a key institution whose inclusiveness and effectiveness are essential to fostering peaceful and inclusive societies. By ensuring evidence-based and transparent budget allocations; providing accountability for government-led policy and law implementation; and integrating people’s voices throughout their processes to ensure that laws and policies leave no one behind and reach those that need them the most, Parliaments contribute to effective, accountable, and inclusive decision-making. To date, however, their involvement in the SDGs has been variable.

Parliaments that have actively engaged in the SDGs by integrating them into their institutional structures, rules of procedure,  and ways of working have tended to operate more openly and with greater participation and confidence of citizens; adopted important laws with greater engagement of constituents to make sure that the benefits are felt by all; and promoted greater development effectiveness. Looking ahead, they have a critical role to play in promoting ongoing accountability for how governments build forward post-COVID-19 consistent with the SDGs to emerge more resilient, more inclusive, and more equal.

Photo credit: @World Bank/BillLyons2002