David Steven

Senior Fellow and Associate Director at the Center for International Cooperation (CIC)

Reflections from the FriEnt PBF 2018

At the FriEnt Peacebuilding Forum 2018, we asked some participants - in line with the motto connect-reflect-create - to share their reflections on key points of the forum and to look at the future of peacebuilding. What should peacebuilding look like in 2030? Together we want to learn from various perspectives and ask ourselves how we can accelerate innovation and strengthen our collective impact in the policy field.

Peacebuilding and Prevention

Challenges for the next year
31 July 2018
Photo: Konstantin Wörner

In order for the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development to reach people in conflict and post-conflict societies, David Steven deamands to focus on three priorities: stand up for SDG16+ ahead of 2019’s High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development, invest in Pathways for Peace, and put violence prevention at the heart of the 2030 Agenda.

As Marc Baxmann and Natascha Zupan have written, the FriEnt Peacebuilding Forum showed the need for new partnerships to make sure the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development reaches people in conflict and post-conflict societies.

The Pathfinders for Peaceful, Just and Inclusive Societies is a universal platform helping countries from all income groups meet the SDG16+ targets – but its roadmap underlines the need for urgent action to support implementation in countries and communities that are at greatest risk of being left behind due to violence and insecurity, injustice and exclusion, and poor governance and weak institutions.

Over the next year, we should focus on three priorities. We must stand up for SDG16+ ahead of 2019’s High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development, invest in Pathways for Peace, and put violence prevention at the heart of the 2030 Agenda.

Stand Up for SDG16+

The High-level Political Forum is the primary UN platform for sustainable development. It meets twice in 2019. In July, it takes the theme: empowering people and ensuring inclusiveness and equality. Ministers review SDG16 and 10. In September, Presidents and Prime Ministers meet for the first four-yearly review of all 17 SDGs. Their mandate is to “mobilize further actions to accelerate implementation.” With the Global Alliance for Reporting Progress on Peaceful, Just and Inclusive Societies, and the 16+ Forum, the Pathfinders are bringing partners together to seize this opportunity (read more here). We must seize the opportunity of next year's HLPFS so that vulnerable countries are front and center of these international meetings and are an opportunity for them to gain the support they need to make progress towards more sustainable patterns of development.

Invest in Pathways for Peace

The Pathways for Peace report brings the UN and World Bank together around a common approach to prevention. Its focus on inclusive development chimes with what the peacebuilding community has been telling us for many years:

For all countries, addressing inequalities and exclusion, making institutions more inclusive, and ensuring that development strategies are risk-informed are central to preventing the fraying of the social fabric that could erupt into crisis.

We must now respond to the Pathways call to action, but that requires new resources. The new OECD States of Fragility report found that only 2% of ODA in fragile contexts is spent on conflict prevention and just 10% on peacebuilding. Donors should use the HLPFs in 2019 to announce that they will be shifting substantial resources towards people-centered prevention.

A Global Movement for Violence Prevention

SDG16.1 makes a commitment to “significantly reduce all forms of violence and related death rates everywhere.” For the first time, we have a quantifiable target to reduce violence and the opportunity to unite communities working on different forms of prevention. But SDG16.1 has been neglected in the early years of the 2030 Agenda.

We work on the prevention of conflict, human rights abuses, and criminal and interpersonal violence from silos, even though threats are interconnected, and most solutions will prevent multiple types of violence. Advocacy focuses primarily on the problem of violence and we lack a strategic vision for how SDG16.1 can be delivered. This breeds fatalism, despite strong evidence that today’s unacceptable levels of violence can be dramatically reduced. The peacebuilding community needs to join with other champions for prevention to make a compelling and unifying case for action. Together, we can build a global movement for SDG16.1 and turn the 2020s into a decade of successful violence prevention.

The FriEnt Peacebuilding Forum is a series of events on current and overarching challenges and trends in peacebuilding. With the Peacebuilding Forum, we want to provide future-oriented impulses for the development of peacebuilding and strengthen the visibility and importance of the policy field in its entirety.


Arbeitsgemeinschaft Frieden
und Entwicklung (FriEnt)
c/o GIZ

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53113 Bonn