What is SDG 16

In September 2015, the United Nations launched a universal and transformative post-2015 millennium goals agenda for Sustainable Development, underpinned by rights, with people and the planet at its center.

The outcome of the project was the seventeen Sustainable Development Goals, arranged according to six themes:

  1. Dignity: to end poverty and to fight inequalities;
  2. People: to ensure healthy lives, knowledge and the inclusion of women and children;
  3. Prosperity: to grow a strong, inclusive and transformative economy;
  4. Planet: to protect our ecosystems for all societies and our children;
  5. Justice: to promote safe and peaceful societies and strong institutions;
  6. Partnership: to catalyze global solidarity for sustainable development.

SDG 16 reads:

“(A) To promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development,
(B) provide access to justice for all and
(C) build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels

All three objectives imply ‘Legal Inclusion’ as a central issue and pre-condition, namely the situation in which individuals have their basic legal needs satisfied, enjoy legal protection and have access to the entitlements of the society in which they live. National strategies and legal empowerment programs are often hindered by a lack of understanding of legal inclusion as a central, pivotal issue. The SDG 16 framework offers an opportunity to make legal inclusion concrete and actionable.

To measure the implementation of the SDGs, a global indicator framework that includes targets for the 2030 Agenda has been developed. Contrary to SDGs 1 through 15, there are few tangible and actionable indicators to measure progress towards attaining SDG 16, especially as ‘Providing Access to Justice’ has been excluded.

Microjustice developed the Mapping Method, which provides an operationalization framework for the legal inclusion aspect of the 3 sub-goals of SDG 16 and is a tool to identify the precise action needed for the legal empowerment of the marginalized groups. The work on the inclusion of marginalized groups in SDG 16 impacts the other SDGs related to these groups, as legal inclusion provides the precondition for any sustainable development. The Comprehensive Legal Empowerment Plans link the legal empowerment of SDG 16 to other SDGs that deal with marginalized groups and their issues. In this way partner organizations working with these groups on the complementary SDGs are involved in the legal empowerment work both at the local and international levels. This strategy reflects the interconnectivity of the SDGs.

Microjustice has 24 year´s experience in this subject, and developed the Legal Inclusion Mapping Method as a tool for the implementation of SDG 16.

SDG 16 is a cross-cutting goal in the sense that it is a precondition for the achievement of the other SDGs. Similarly, the Microjustice Methodology is a cross-cutting approach to implementing Microjustice and SDG 16, given legal services are a precondition for development and have significant impact on a wide range of issues:

  • It is impossible to achieve peaceful and democratic societies without legal protection, social, economic political inclusion.
  • It is impossible to have a stable economy without the recognition of legal personality of associations, written contracts, and property or business registration,
  • It is impossible to prevent conflict or achieve sustainable development without legal protection and rehabilitation.

Legal Empowerment constitutes a small part of development and peacebuilding activities, but it is a core part without which the initial development activity cannot succeed in the long term. The costs of Microjustice’s Legal Services are relatively small when their impact and the increased sustainability of development and peacebuilding activities are taken into account. The inclusion of Microjustice’s programs and methodology actively helps humanitarian and development organizations, as well as social enterprises, in the long term.