David Steven

About David Steven

David Steven is a policy analyst, strategic consultant and researcher. He is a Senior Fellow at the Center on International Cooperation (CIC) at New York University, and a Director of River Path Associates where he specialises in development policy, the 2030 Agenda, and leads on CIC's Peaceful, Just and Inclusive Societies programme.

Pathfinders for Peaceful, Just and Inclusive Societies – new website

I am currently leading the Pathfinders for Peaceful, Just and Inclusive Societies initiative –  a group of member states, international organizations, global partnerships, and other partners, convened by the governments of Brazil, Switzerland, and Sierra Leone, and supported by the Center on International Cooperation. Many of you will have seen our Roadmap, and information about the initiative on here, at events, and on other websites.

We have just launched the new Pathfinders website – take a look and find out the latest on the implementation of the SDG16+ targets.

The End Violence Solutions Summit

The End Violence Solutions Summit took place this week in Stockholm, Sweden, bringing to life a recommendation made in a CIC report in 2014.

Key speakers included the Queen of Sweden, the Deputy Secretary-General, the heads of UNICEF, WHO, and UNODC, and ministers from 14 pathfinder countries. Never have so many senior leaders come together to prevent violence against children.

At the heart of the summit, INSPIRE – seven strategies for ending violence against children. The international community has reviewed the evidence and is speaking with one voice about how SDG16.2 can be delivered.

Brazil, Japan and United Arab Emirates all used the summit to join the Global Partnership to End Violence Against Children.

Credit goes to countries first out of the blocks: Indonesia, Mexico, Tanzania and – the Summit host – Sweden. Also to Susan Bissell, who has nurtured the partnership in its early years and now gives way to Howard Taylor, joining from Nike Foundation as the partnership’s new director.

The big question. How will the partnership respond to Amina Mohammed’s challenge to present strengthened national commitments to end violence at the High-level Political Forum in 2019?

Read CIC’s challenge paper on preventing violence against children and my review of the Solutions Summit.

 

Image by Jessica Gow, Government Offices of Sweden

Where Next? Ending Violence Against Children

As the 2030 Agenda enters its third year, those working to end violence against children must redouble their efforts to make significant progress towards SDG16.2, improving the lives of children worldwide.

This challenge paper – the first in a series exploring next steps in implementation of the 2030 Agenda’s commitment to peace, justice and inclusion – is an update to If Not Now, When? Ending Violence Against all the World’s Children which recommended the formation of the Global Partnership to End Violence Against Children.

Published ahead of the Solutions Summit in Stockholm, it:

  • Summarizes the development of the Sustainable Development Goal targets on ending violence against children.
  • Describes how the SDG targets have been successful in strengthening a growing movement that aims to end violence against children, but argues that prevention has not yet become a frontline priority for governments.
  • Reviews the formation and activities of the Global Partnership to End Violence Against Children, and the impact of the INSPIRE strategies for ending violence against children.
  • Looks at which “pathfinder” countries have taken national leadership in this area.

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Roadmap for Peaceful, Just and Inclusive Societies – published version

Recognizing the urgent need for action to address growing violence, Brazil, Sierra Leone and Switzerland are leading an initiative that asks countries to take wide-ranging steps to make progress against the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2019. The Pathfinders for Peaceful, Just and Inclusive Societies, a group of 23 countries, launched its plan of action at the UN General Assembly on September 21.

In the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, governments have made ambitious promises to reduce all forms of violence, and to tackle injustice and exclusion at a time when many people feel let down by their societies. The Pathfinders have come together to ensure that bold and visionary targets are translated into action that will change people’s lives.

The Roadmap for Peaceful, Just and Inclusive Societies covers some of the major challenges of the twenty-first century, including ending violence against women and children, tackling abuses such as forced marriage and modern slavery, fighting corruption and illicit financial flows and renewing institutions so they can meet growing demand for inclusive growth and environmental sustainability

The Roadmap focuses on the next five years—mapping out the beginning of a collective journey and providing a guide for decision-makers, for funders and for campaigners. It is relevant to all countries, in line with the universality of the 2030 Agenda, but recognizes the urgency of action for the most vulnerable people and countries. (September 2017)

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Roadmap for Peaceful, Just and Inclusive Societies – HLPF side event

Every time I read the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, I am struck again by the magnitude of the task of delivering them. The agenda hails itself as “supremely ambitious and transformational,” which is all well and good, but only if there is equivalent ambition in implementation.

At the Center on International Cooperation, our focus is on the targets for peaceful, just and inclusive societies – not just those in SDG16, but in all Sustainable Development Goals.

We started with violence against children, helping create the Global Partnership to End Violence Against Children. With the partnership, we contributed to the INSPIRE strategies, the first time the international community has united behind clear recommendations to policymakers on how these forms of violence can be prevented.

Over the past year, we have supported the Pathfinders for Peaceful, Just and Inclusive Societies, a group of member states, international organizations, global partnerships, and other partners that has been convened by the governments of Brazil, Sierra Leone, and Switzerland.

Based on existing country leadership and best practice, the Pathfinders have developed a roadmap for 36 targets for peaceful, just and inclusive societies (SDG16+). For the first time, this tracks a way forward for turning the ambition of the SDG targets for peaceful, just and inclusive societies into reality.

You can read the roadmap here.

Today, the draft roadmap was presented at a side event at the High-level Political Forum in New York. Here’s what the UN Deputy-Secretary General, Amina Mohammed, had to say about the roadmap:

The roadmap proposes three cross-cutting strategies:

  • Invest in prevention so that all societies and people reach their full potential.
  • Transform institutions so that they can meet aspirations for a more prosperous, inclusive and sustainable future.
  • Include and empower people so that they can fulfill their potential to work for a better future.

It sets out nine catalytic actions: on violence against women, children and vulnerable groups, building safer cities, prevention for the most vulnerable countries, access to justice, legal identity, tackling corruption and illicit flows, open government, empowering people as agents of change, and respecting rights and promoting gender equality. around a common agenda.

The roadmap is the result of an extensive process of consultation and debate, and will be finalized in the coming weeks. We will then launch it in September, at the High-level week of the 72nd session of the UN General Assembly.

The Pathfinders will then continue their work as a platform for action. The group will not displace existing activity, but will act as a ‘docking station’, bringing partners from across the world together around a shared vision.

The focus is on the High-level Political Forum in 2019, when Presidents and Prime Ministers will gather for a summit on the 2030 Agenda and ask ‘what have you achieved over the past four years?’

Will we have a good answer to that question?

Roadmap for Peaceful, Just and Inclusive Societies – HLPF version

The roadmap has its roots in meetings of the Pathfinders at the High-level Political Forum and the High Level Week of the General Assembly in 2016. It was explored in detail at a Pathfinders retreat, hosted by the group’s convenors and by Canada, Qatar, South Korea, and Tunisia.

SDG16 is the main goal for “fostering peaceful, just and inclusive societies which are free from fear and violence.” The roadmap, however, looks beyond SDG16 to 36 targets from seven other goals (SDG16+). It recognizes strong links with all goals, in line with the integrated nature of the 2030 Agenda.

The roadmap identifies three transformative strategies that will make a cross-cutting contribution to the delivery of the sustainable development agenda. It sets out catalytic actions where there is strong potential to accelerate delivery, and underlines the need for a strategic approach to data and evidence, exchange and learning, finance, and advocacy and movement-building.

In September, at the High-level week of the 72nd session of the UN General Assembly, the roadmap will be formally launched at an event for heads of state and government, and for ministers. This event will build on and formalize the Pathfinders for Peaceful, Just and Inclusive Societies initiative and will demonstrate international and national commitment to delivering the targets for peace, justice and inclusion (July 2017)

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The State of the World: A Report Card on International Cooperation

Guest post by Megan Roberts, associate director of the International Institutions and Global Governance program at the Council on Foreign Relations

Last week the Council of Councils, a global network of think tanks, released its third annual Report Card on International Cooperation and the results are not pretty. The Report Card, which surveys the heads of member think tanks to evaluate the world’s performance on ten of the most important transnational challenges, found that global efforts earned a barely passing C-, a steep drop from the B earned last year. Moreover, across the ten issue areas that the Report Card covers, only one – combatting transnational terrorism – registered an improvement over 2016.

Few who pay even passing attention to global affairs will find the results surprising. The past year saw some of the most significant shocks to international cooperation since the end of the Cold War. After Brexiteers narrowly beat out Remainers in the United Kingdom, Americans voted Donald Trump into office. The scandalous longshot in a crowded field of Republican candidates, Trump made a number of campaign pledges to withdraw the United States from international entanglements that he viewed as unfair and incompatible with his vision of ‘America First.’

Echoes of this isolationist call have been felt in subsequent elections, most recently in Marine Le Pen’s bid for the French presidency. And while liberal candidates prevailed over nativist calls this year in France and the Netherlands, there’s reason to believe that populism, far from being beaten back, has merely reached what the New York Times recently called “an awkward adolescence,” too small to win elections, yet large enough to disrupt national politics.

This matters all the more so because many of the world’s most pressing challenges cannot be stopped by borders. As the Report Card notes:

Around the world, a surge of populist nationalism poses a political challenge to globalization and calls into question continued support for multilateral institutions. At the same time, many of the most important challenges confronting governments and citizens – from economic shocks to climate change to infectious disease – are inherently transnational, crossing borders that leaders have vowed to reinforce.

Digging deeper into the ten issue areas, the Report Card reveals more pessimism. Once again, the Report Card reserves some of its poorest grades for international efforts to prevent and respond to violent conflict. Though the Report Card identifies conflict management as a high priority going forward, it is not expecting to see opportunities for breakthrough this year. In contrast, the areas that scored highest marks – mitigating and adapting to climate change, promoting global health, advancing development – were all seen as relatively lower priority areas for policymakers. In short, according to the Report Card there is little expectation for progress on important issues, where the world is already underperforming. And while there is hope for progress in areas already performing relatively better, these gains matter less.

Two issue areas – combatting transnational terrorism and promoting global trade – buck this trend in opposing directions. Despite scoring a middling grade for performance in 2016, international efforts to combat transnational terrorism ranked as both a high priority for policymakers and the top area where the Report Card expected to register progress this year as the international coalition fighting the Islamic State has rolled back significant swaths of the group’s territorial control.

Efforts to promote global trade, in contrast, received some of the Report Card’s poorest marks, as major mega-regional trade agreements failed, and the Council of Councils ranked trade as a low priority, in part because it did not see any hope for progress this year. In an environment of continued anti-trade rhetoric, the most that may be expected is that the world can avoid worst outcomes – a China-U.S. trade war, the collapse of NAFTA, orderly Brexit negotiations – but this is a low bar indeed.

To learn more about how events over the last year have shaped expectations for international cooperation in 2017, visit the Report Card on International Cooperation.