This year’s High-Level Political Forum (HLPF) takes stock of progress on the 17 SDGs and will be reviewing progress on five specific goals, including SDG 16. Two months later, at the General Assembly in New York in September 2019, heads of state and government will meet for the first four-yearly review of all 17 SDGs – the SDG Summit. Among the 51 countries that have volunteered to report at the HLPF 2019, more than a third are from Africa – the largest-ever contingent from the region reporting at the HLPF. The significant participation of African countries reflects the international leadership of African member states in ensuring that issues of governance and peace are central to the new development agenda. Voluntary national reviews, however, are not the endgame. These reviews must be built on to make future commitments to act.
This offers a critical opportunity to step up ambitions for SDG 16, and to make the case that targets related to justice, peace and inclusion are measurable – from reducing all forms of violence, to promoting the rule of law and access to justice, to promoting effective and accountable institutions and participatory democracy and to ensuring public access to information and fundamental freedoms. We know that measuring progress in such areas is not easy – it requires political and technical leadership and it takes patient investment in capacity. While some other goals in the SDG framework – like access to health and education – already benefit from decades of work on measurement and development of indicators, SDG 16 is starting from a very different place.
But this report demonstrates that this task is far from impossible. An increasing number of countries in Africa have official monitoring systems that supply timely and robust data and analysis on peace and governance to national policymakers. Multi-stakeholder approaches to monitoring SDG 16, which include government, academia, civil society and the international system, are essential to progress at any level. This report also shows that stakeholders are working together within African countries in the pursuit of peaceful societies, access to justice, and effective, accountable and inclusive institutions – and are finding ways to monitor and report on progress.