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Sustainable Development Goals and Positive Peace

Updated: Apr 25, 2022

By Anh Ha (2017)

Positive Peace is the way to achieve Sustainable Peace and it has a strong correlation with the SDGs.

April 2016 marks the major switch of the UN in the way to achieve peace and eliminate conflicts with the introduction of sustainable peace. This fundamental shift focuses on preventing conflicts via the identification of the factors that foster peace and building resilient societies. This fits perfectly with the spirit and idea of positive peace.

IEP’s Positive Peace Index is a measurement tool for conceptualising, tracking and supporting the key drivers of peace. PPI shows that there is a strong correlation between Positive Peace and the SDGs. Hence, this proves that there would be no sustainable peace without sustainable development and no sustainable development without sustainable peace.

“Negative Peace is the absence of violence or fear of violence-and one which enables peace to be most easily measured.”

“Positive Peace: Well-developed Positive Peace represents the capacity for a society to meet the needs of its citizens, reduce the number of grievances that arise and resolve remaining disagreements without the use of violence.

Positive peace includes 8 pillars that describe the attitudes, institutions, and structures that underpin peaceful peaceful societies

“Of the 169 targets of the SDGs, there are many which focus on addressing the drivers of violence”, which is Positive Peace in IEP.

IEP terms the focuses on the drivers of peace under Goal 16 including governance, inequalities and institutions, as the Positive Peace or the “attitudes, institutions and structures which create and sustain peaceful societies.” The outcome of Goal 16 is Positive Peace, which was empirically developed a framework including 8 pillars.

Goal 16 cannot be separated from the other goals in the SDGs, and it does not apply only to conflict-affected countries.

Of 169 targets in the SDGs, 85% are relevant to at least two Positive Peace factors. Low levels of corruption are only relevant to three targets

High levels of Human Capital and Well-functioning Government are relevant to over half of the 169 targets in the SDGs because these factors most directly relate to development outcomes and the governance required to bring about effective service distribution.

2017 Positive Peace Index also point out the strong relationship between positive peace and development

PPI was compared to a large range of development indicators to find out that many priorities development factors in the SDGs are closely related and empirically linked to Positive Peace. To name a few of these factors are strong economic growth and employment, environmental sustainability, greater food security, gender equality, and development objectives such as improving access to water and energy resources.

=> PPI correlates with many other measures of progress


Countries with a low measure of SDG also have a low score of GPI score

  1. Target 16.1: Reduce all forms of violence

The first target of goal 16 could be measurable through four indicators of GPI, which are:

Number of victims of international homicide per 100,000 population, by sex and age

  • Homicides kill more people than any other forms with 13 times the amount of people are killed globally in terrorist attacks. It significantly stresses the relationship between violence and development when homicide rates are twice as high in developing countries when compared to in developed countries

  • Internal capacity of each country record homicides as it is a component of criminal justice

  • The table below shows that countries with higher capacity are usually more peaceful

Conflict-related deaths per 100,000 population, by sex, age, and cause

  • Conflict-related deaths occur in countries that have either armed conflict or war within their borders. These conflicts usually reduce the capabilities of a government and require resources to be channeled into conflict prevention than Post-conflict countries that generally have lesser statistical capacity

Percentage of the population subjected to physical, psychological, or sexual violence in the previous 12 months

  • This indicator is a measure of the proportion of the population who have been victims of these types of violence in the last 12 months

  • According the Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS) shows that countries which have measures of sexual violence against women in the past 12 months also perform poorly in the GPI.

  • Around two-thirds of the countries that have a measure of sexual violence against women perform in the bottom half of GPI.

The proportion of people that feel safe walking alone around the area they live

  • Directly measure the fear of violence by asking 164 countries in Gallup World Poll: “Do you feel safe walking alone at night in the city or area where you live?”

There is a trend between the measure of Target 16.1 and internal peace from GPI. Not surprising because internal peace includes two of the same indicators.

Walking Alone at night is based on a survey and only covers 156 out of 193 UN member states

Percentage of the population subjected to physical, psychological, or sexual violence in the previous 12 months

Why should we invest in Peace?

  1. The economic cost of violence


IEP developed a methodology to estimate the cost of violence to the global economy by using ten indicators from the Global Peace Index (GPI) and three additional key areas of expenditure. According to the research, the economic cost of violence estimation in 2012 is $9.46 trillion, in which $4.73 of direct and indirect costs. This total cost is equivalent to 11 percent of the World GDP, or double the value of world agricultural production.

15% of expenditure on violence would be enough for the European Stability Fund, repay Greece’s debt and cover the increase in funding required to achieve the United Nation’s Millennium Development Goals.

Military expenses account for 51 percent of total violence cost when excludes many other forms of violence without available data. The world’s spending on military is 12 times spending on foreign aid according to the Official Development Assistance. Besides military spending, homicides account for 15 percent of total impact and spending on internal security officers and police accounts for about 14 percent of violence costs.

It is obvious that the more a nation spends on violence, the more they could spend these money on more productive economic activity. Consequently, money that is spent on violence not only takes away potential sufficient economic activity, but also constrain a nation’s economic growth.

In terms of percentage of GDP, among 79 countries in this research, North Korea spends the most on violence containment with 27.5% of GDP. Syria’s ongoing conflict makes it the country that spends the second most on violence containment costs with 24% of GDP.

Though homicide costs and internal security were significant at the same time, North Korea’s military spending accounts 70 percent of their expenditure on violence. Internal conflict takes over 50 percent of Syria’s violence costs. Its military and internal security cost respectively account for 16 and 14 percent.

In terms of value, the United States, China and Russia are countries with the biggest costs of violence. Most of their costs were from military spending with the leading country that spends the most on

2. Economic benefit of peace

Based on these findings, the traditional myth about the economic benefits of war has soon been replaced by the increasing encourage for peacebuilding. The two cases were mentioned in the research is Sierra Leone, which has suffered in both substantial loss of life and economic activity.

“The benefit of peace is not just simply the absence of violence, but it involves the creation of those institutions and structures that encourage greater resilience and foster human development.”

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1 Comment

Feb 21

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