With Agenda 2030 being universal, governments across the globe are challenged to consider issues that are usually discussed mainly in the context of “developing countries” and “fragile states”. What does Goal 16 for peaceful, just and inclusive societies mean to a country like Sweden?
In this seminar, Renee Larivière, Deputy Director General of the international peacebuilding organisation Interpeace, exemplified what work in pursuit of Goal 16 can mean in a European context. Recognizing that tensions and incidents of violence were increasing in suburbs to several European cities, Interpeace decided to test whether its 20 years of peacebuilding experience from traditional conflict countries could be useful in addressing social exclusion in Europe. In 2013, a pilot project was initiated in Tensta, Sweden. Learning the context through local consultations, Interpeace found that the challenges threatening societal cohesion in the Stockholm suburb, including increasing social and economic inequalities, were not unlike the patterns of exclusion in countries recovering from conflict.
Many issues raised in the consultations revolved around negative perceptions of youth. To engage with Tensta youths, Interpeace used the methodology of filmmaking to let them tell their own stories. The project has shed light on the experiences of young people in Tensta, including the sense of being caught between two cultures, the great disconnect between politicians and the perceptions of these youth, and the role media plays in enhancing the negative views and stereotypes of the suburb.
Following Larivières presentation, different aspects of Interpeace’s work and Goal 16 was further discussed by complementing speakers. Noura Berrouba, the Swedish Youth Representative to the United Nations General Assembly, reflected on how youth can best be engaged in the implementation of Agenda 2030 in Sweden. Stressing that youth participation is peacebuilding, it doesn’t lead to peacebuilding, she called for more projects such as the one by Interpeace in Tensta. Youth civil society is important in empowering young people and although these civil society structures already exist, they need better support and financial backing. Youth must not only be seen as beneficiaries of projects, but as partners and initiators for change. Intergenerational problems need intergenerational solutions and these include intergenerational dialogue, Berrouba concluded.
Lastly, Gary Milante, Director of the Security and Development Programme of SIPRI, elaborated on the ongoing process of establishing global indicators for Goal 16. The task is complicated as the targets are complex and often include several dimensions in the same target. In addition, there is no consensus on how to measure peace, for example, and there is no one measurement that captures its full essence. There are also tensions in identifying indicators that the various national statistics offices are comfortable with, both in terms of capacity and in terms of political will. Once general consensus on the indicators have been developed multilaterally, each country will go back and define their own national targets.
In conclusion, the speakers found it is groundbreaking that the goals are universal, and stressed that this also implies that countries that have reached certain targets should not sit back and rest, but instead help other countries improve. Sweden could play a creative and leading role in the implementation phase of the Agenda, both in terms of working seriously with the goals at home and in supporting other countries to do so.
More information about the Interpeace project in Tensta can be found in the recently published Development Dialogue Inclusive Peacebuilding: Recognised but not Realised.
Watch the seminar: