Our monthly SDG Meetups are a collaboration with SDG House and C-Change. For each Meetup, we focus on one Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) and invite entrepreneurs, innovators and knowledge partners to share lessons learned from working toward that specific goal.

For the sixth edition of our SDG Meetup series we explored SDG 16: Peace, Justice, and Strong Institutions. To this day, many people continue to suffer horrors as a result of armed conflict or other forms of violence, both within societies and domestically. Advances in promoting the rule of law and access to justice are uneven. But, slowly, progress is being made when it comes to regulations governing public access to information and strengthening institutions upholding human rights at the national level.

For this Meetup, we invited The Hague Humanity Hub, WO=MEN, MasterPeace, and TYKN to share their knowledge and experience in contributing to SDG 16 all over the world.

Challenges posed by SDG 16
The Hague Humanity Hub was initiated by the The Hague Municipality, to enable the community to take action. For them, the most important issues within SDG 16 are access to justice; technology implementation, communication & policy; human rights; an inclusive society; and eradicating poverty. The Humanity Hub faces several challenges and questions. First of all, the majority of organisations who work on SDG 16 are NGOs, and they are usually conservative. Not a bad thing in general, but it does impede innovation. In addition, what is innovation in tech going to do in future, and how will it affect us? How can we use it to make progress for SDG 16? Finally, getting people to understand what you work on is a challenge in finding partners and funding opportunities. What business model works with the issues of SDG 16?

A specific area the Humanity Hub wants to look into is human rights in supply chains. They would like to collaborate with the private sector, which is not typically done in the work on SDG 16. So, questions arise: How can we make peace and justice issues relevant to businesses so they want to take them on? How do we create language that resonates with companies, so we can collaborate?

Getting the private sector involved
MasterPeace has an answer. They are a global grassroots non-profit and peace movement that invites people to enter in a dialogue for peace building, through cultural projects. Using the positive mediums of art and cultural exchange, they activate communities to develop their own understanding of peace building, for a more sustainable world with less (armed) conflict.

To achieve this, MasterPeace developed a special framework to harness the power of CSR. MasterPeace custom-matches projects to the businesses that fund them, so that the partnership produces value for the company as well as for the communities involved. The non-profit has learned to always be aware of and creative with the local context of a company, and to set reasonable expectations for the change they can achieve there. An example is MasterPeace’s partnership with AkzoNobel, in which they created 100 ‘Walls of Connection’ across the world, to communicate about peace and justice and engage local communities around peace building. By engaging companies, MasterPeace normalises corporate involvement in working on SDG 16, and stops its issues from being perceived as solely governmental.

Fighting injustice
WO=MEN catalyses access to security and justice, to make women heard in the process towards peace. How should the peace process be designed to accommodate the needs of women and girls? They bring victims in conflicted areas into the picture to change the mandate and build policy. They also created an interactive installation that can be featured at events. This installation raises awareness on issues regarding injustice for women, and how WO=MEN addresses them. For example, 60% of women globally are not financially independent. WO=MEN tries to make both men and women aware of this situation. The more understanding created between different perspectives (between women and men), the higher the possibility of eradicating injustice.

Strong institutional processes
TYKN has first-hand experience of what it means to be an asylum seeker. The founder, Tey El-Rjula experienced it himself and started TYKN. With TYKN, Tey wants to bring about systemic change, so that public resources are used effectively. When Tey was trying to obtain a residence permit, he carried 14 kilograms of documents between 5 camps for 2 years. At every refugee camp, he had to re-register. Tey observed that a lot of donor money and tax payer’s money is lost in NGOs. With the use of technology his company has created, this process can be made much simpler.

Insights from the crowd

  • Taking part in the conversation is a start already.
  • Embrace more openness in the society: drink a coffee with someone important and not important!
  • Support the work of SDGs, define where your impact is, and influence policy.
  • More knowledge on financial sustainability is needed to make impact.
  • Work on transparency. Global benchmark initiatives are needed to understand the context.
  • Make the information accessible through visual work. Establish partnerships to understand what is happening.
  • From a CSR angle, companies can help in areas of conflict. The more stability there is in the conflict areas, the more wealth they could create.
  • It begins with consciousness. Let’s slow down together.

This meetup was another bridge builder for organisations that work in similar fields. The Humanity Hub, for example, was so kind as to suggest speakers from their community. This meetup was also an opportunity to network: MasterPeace and The Humanity Hub shared their interest to connect about working with the private sector to boost SDG 16.