The pursuit of peace in the Pacific
The recently published SDG16 in the Pacific report sheds light on the unique path to sustainable development in the Pacific Islands
Capturing progress is vital to progressing towards the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The Institute for Economics & Peace’s latest consultancy report SDG16 in the Pacific has captured progress made so far and proposes opportunities for innovation and development.
The report advises strengthening and legitimising institutions to achieve sustainable development, by focusing on Goal 16 specifically: peace, justice and strong institutions (SDG16).
Although all SDGs are inextricably linked, the SDG16 has special importance as its focus on peace, justice and strong institutions fosters resilience to deal with other challenges.
Due to a lack of relevant data, a Pacific Peace Index would have pitfalls. Instead, Pacific countries have been plotted on a quadrant to analyse their status in relation to institutions and violence.
Enhanced institutions and justice would improve transparency, legitimacy, efficiency, coordination and capacity to respond to challenges like violence.
Violence, both interpersonal and intercommunal, presents a challenge for negative peace in the Pacific Islands.
The SDGs present an opportunity for the Pacific to transition from a peace defined solely by a lack of conflict, to a more holistic and sustainable peace agenda that propels human potential.
For the region to optimise its chances of SDG success, the Pacific needs to address the lack of available data.
An extensive data audit found 47 per cent of indicators used for measuring SDG16 are either available, partially available, or available through a proxy measure in the region.
This is broadly reflective of global trends, as less than half of countries globally have any data for eight of the 23 SDG16 indicators.
Variations in geography, urbanisation, the poor coordination of data and traditional, informal methods of burial present enormous challenges for data-based progress evaluation in the region.
No country in the world is currently able to measure all indicators of the SDGs, which highlights just how ambitious the task of achieving them is.
There is an immense pressure on Pacific Islands in their pursuit of peace. Natural disasters, climate change, interpersonal violence and broader geostrategic competition in the region presents an especially challenging landscape.
In the past, the Pacific region did not quickly adopt the goals of the SDGs predecessor, the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), and made limited progress as a result.
Only two countries in the Pacific achieved all eight MDGs: the Cook Islands; and Nieu.
There were three countries that did not achieve any of the MDGs: Kiribati, Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands.
Capturing the progress made so far and evaluating the data tools available to achieve further development is a vital step in the journey towards the 2030 Agenda for the Sustainable Development Goals.