Statement at the Informal Briefing by the UN Secretary-General on the Progress Towards the SDGs
"Briefing by the Secretary-General on the Special Edition of his report on "Progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals"
25 April 2023
New York, United Nations Headquarters
International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (IDEA)
International IDEA believes that advancing democracy is critical to achieve the 2030 Agenda, of which many goals are suffering from stagnation and regression as highlighted in the report by the UN Secretary-General on the progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals. Democracy guarantees citizens the basic right to actively participate in their communities. Through free and fair elections, and the exercise of freedom of expression and association, people can debate and have a voice in public decisions and policies. This is more likely to make policies —from quality education (SDG 4) to climate action (SDG 13)— more attuned to people’s needs and if need be, allow for correction.
Promoting peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, ensuring access to justice for all and building effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels, all of them are tasks essential for the achievement of the SDGs. SDG 16 is thus a cornerstone of the entire 2030 Agenda. Crucially, all those pending tasks are a set of policy goals that democracy achieves demonstrably better than any other political system in the world. SDG 16 is built upon the premise that democracy, peace and sustainable development are inseparable.
Therefore, SDG 16 should be emphasized in the SDG Summit and in the negotiations of this body as an enabler and accelerator of the 2030 Agenda. Measuring progress towards SDG 16 is thus of the essence. International IDEA contributes to this through its Global State of Democracy Indices which include measures for all key dimensions of SDG 16, including peace, inclusivity, and access to justice. The SDG 16 Data Initiative, a consortium of 18 organizations, including International IDEA, seeks to support the open tracking of the global commitments made by more than 193 countries in 2015 and, also, provides complementary measures and analysis on several targets and indicators on SDG 16. The Initiative shows the complementary value of non-official data to monitor progress and deepen the analysis on access to justice, inclusive institutions, and the rule of law.
Next to nothing in this agenda –from tackling poverty to providing good healthcare, from improving education to advancing gender equality, from accelerating economic growth to reducing inequalities, from confronting the climate crisis to creating sustainable cities—will be achieved if SDG 16 fails. Therefore, International IDEA urges Member States to focus on progress towards SDG 16 as a key enabler for the attainment of all SDGs, and consider it as a top priority for debates in this Summit and in its political declaration.