Promote just, peaceful and inclusive societies
Data can help the fight for peace and justice. We can begin by making sure every person is counted. Amazingly, the births of more than 1 in 10 children under the age of 5 are not registered, so they don’t officially exist and therefore lack basic human rights and protection. As basic as it sounds, one of the objectives of Goal 16 is to ensure the existence of every human being is recorded.
The photographs are heartbreaking. Anguish etched into faces of people desperately attempting to find safety – except for those like two-year-old Alyan Kurdi, lifeless on the shoreline, who paid the ultimate price searching for it. The photos offer a tiny glimpse into the nightmare millions face fleeing Syria, which has forced 6.3 million to relocate inside its borders. More than 5 million have sought refuge in Turkey and other neighboring countries. Some have continued on, risking everything for the dream of a better life in Europe. The flow of humanity will not stop soon.
Syria is a mess, torn apart by a brutal dictatorship, moderate Syrian rebels, Kurdish separatists, and the savagery of the Islamic State (IS). Seven years of fighting between the various groups has turned Syria into the world’s largest refugee crisis. But Syria is not unique. More than 65 million people sought asylum from conflict zones around the world in 2016, with 20 people forcibly displaced every minute. According to the United Nations (UN) Refugee Agency, it’s the largest number of displaced people ever and will likely continue trending higher unless peace and justice are found. What other chance do these people have to lead a normal life again?
Peace and justice are not only essential to ending wars and conflicts; they’re foundational to achieving the other UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). With the years 2000 to 2015 as a guide, we know that ending extreme poverty is highly dependent on peace. According to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, the five countries that did not progress on any of the Millennium Development Goals – the precursor to the new SDGs – all faced violent conflicts at some point between 2000 and 2015. Furthermore, research published by the Brookings Institute estimates that 75% of people still living in extreme poverty by 2030 will be located in war zones. If we want to eliminate extreme poverty by 2030, we must achieve peace.
If we want to eliminate inequality based on gender, ethnicity, and beliefs, we must achieve justice. Women and children are often targeted in conflicts – abused, raped, and killed. A UN official confirmed the existence of a price list for child slaves published by IS, suggesting how heinous their treatment can be. But it is wrong to assume this problem exists only in conflict zones; violence toward women and children is everywhere. The United States itself has an appalling track record – every two minutes a woman is raped – suggesting many countries need to invest in protecting the vulnerable. Ranked 144th on the global peace index, the United States has an opportunity to set an example by improving peace and security within its own borders by 2030.
Data can help the fight for peace and justice. We can begin by making sure every person is counted. Amazingly, the births of more than 1 in 10 children under the age of 5 are not registered, according to data from the World Bank. In other words, they don’t officially exist and, therefore, lack basic human rights and protection. As basic as it sounds, one of the objectives of Global Goal 16 is to ensure that the existence of every human being is recorded. Data, documenting a person, is a basic human right. Data can also shine a light on violence and conflict, helping us understand how to stop them.
Responsible for a country’s laws, justice system, and enforcement, governments naturally play a central role in bringing about peace and justice. But the private sector also has a role to play. Every conflict depends on a supply chain for weapons and other goods. Governments can attempt to stop such trade by placing export controls on certain countries; corporations can contribute by ensuring their goods and services are helping to resolve conflict, not exacerbate it.
For some conflicts around the world, private-sector supply chains are the cause. For example, all of the electronics we use depend on tin, tantalum, tungsten, and gold. The Democratic Republic of Congo has one of the few rich deposits of ores needed to produce these metals. Given the explosion of electronic devices the world uses, it’s a huge asset to improve the well-being of the Congo. However, weak government and strong rebel groups have caused the opposite to happen; these valuable minerals instead fuel conflict and violence.
The problem is so bad that the United States and others demand companies to verify and prove that their manufactured goods do not use minerals from the Congo or other conflict zones. With the help of online collaboration platforms such as SAP® Product Stewardship Network, companies can ensure their supply chain is using responsibly sourced materials. Stopping the purchase of minerals from conflict zones stops the funding of rebel groups and the destruction they cause.
As our world shrinks with every newborn child and with every newly integrated supply chain, finding a way to live in peace and harmony is our only hope for survival. We can all help – nations, governments, corporations, and individuals – to stop the nightmares for so many and help them dream once again.
SAP technology is helping governments analyze and use data to improve people’s lives.