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Goal 16: Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels


Peace, transparency, accountability and the rule of law are essential to the achievement of sustainable development. The primary targets of Goal 16 include ensuring equal access to justice for all; inclusive, participatory and representative decision-making; ensuring public access to information; developing effective, accountable and transparent institutions and enforcing non-discriminatory laws and policies for sustainable development.

Key messages from the region on the issues addressed by SDG 16 and its targets

      • Access to public information and open government (and an open State) are key for transparency, democracy, accountability and good governance, and a prerequisite for significant participation by the public in decision-making on sustainable development.

      • Access rights give legitimacy to decision-making and contribute to achieving peace and security and preventing conflict.

      • The rule of law is a catalyst for sustainable development, with access to justice as a determinant of the justiciability and the enforceability of human rights.

      • Violence in its various forms erodes the social fabric in the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean and is a cross-cutting problem impeding sustainable development. High levels of violence directly affect young people. Gender-based violence, femicide, harassment and trafficking in persons are regional issues that have emerged as requiring urgent attention.
      • The achievement of SDG 16 depends on a whole-of-society approach, including advocates of marginalized or traditionally excluded persons and groups, and it is essential to actively engage specific groups (women, young people, persons with disabilities, indigenous peoples, migrants, among others) to achieve sustainable development with equality and a rights-based approach. Local governments, parliamentarians and academia are also critical stakeholders in the implementation of SDG 16.

      • National human rights institutions should be actively involved in follow-up to the 2030 Agenda to reflect human rights standards in public policies related to SDG 16 and the 2030 Agenda as a whole.

      • The private sector can also make an important contribution to efforts to consolidate peace, inclusiveness, the advancement of the rule of law and the elimination of corruption in order to create an enabling environment for sustainable development where companies can flourish.

      • Volunteerism is a powerful accelerator of SDG 16, especially for including underrepresented groups and ensuring that no one is left behind.

    Promote peaceful, just and inclusive societies in Latin America and the Caribbean

    Promote peaceful, just and inclusive societies in Latin America and the Caribbean

    The analysis of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) presented here is the outcome of the discussions held within the framework of the Forum of the Countries of Latin America and Caribbean on Sustainable Development, convened under the auspices of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC).

Challenges and opportunities for the implementation, follow-up and review of SDG 16 and its targets

    • Challenges

      • Obtaining financing and economic, material and human resources to implement SDG 16.

      • Engaging all sectors of the population, reaching those furthest behind and those traditionally marginalized or excluded, and supporting people and groups in situations of vulnerability.

      • Existing difficulties in measuring progress regarding SDG 16 as indicators are not available or are not comparable between countries.

      • Discrimination and inequalities in all their forms and manifestations, as well as all forms of violence, such as sexual, cultural, social, structural and institutionalized violence, and especially gender violence.

      • The narrowing of the democratic space in the region and very low levels of trust in the State and in democracy.

      • The corruption entrenched at all levels and in all spaces in the region.

      • Gender gaps, inequality in all its forms, lack of opportunities and limited access to justice.

      • The criminalization of protest, of freedom of expression and of participation and of fundamental freedoms; discrimination and diverse forms of exploitation; and arbitrary arrests by elements of the public security forces.

      • Ineffective mechanisms for active youth participation in decision-making do not allow genuine representativity in the system.


      • The region counts 23 countries with a law on access to public information.

      • There are 17 countries which are members of the Open Government Partnership, 38 action plans have already been implemented and 10 are at the implementation stage, and 1,100 action commitments have been made for the period 2011–2020.

      • There are 14 national human rights institutions in Latin America and the Caribbean that have status A under the principles relating to the status of national human rights institutions (the Paris Principles).

      • Early entry into force and implementation of the Regional Agreement on Access to Information, Public Participation and Justice in Environmental Matters in Latin America and the Caribbean (Escazú Agreement) would promote the implementation of the 2030 Agenda and the multilateral environmental agreements.

Lessons learned and good practices with respect to SDG 16 and its targets

      • The negotiation of the Escazú Agreement was an open, inclusive and participatory process that forged partnerships between governments and the public, academia and the private sector, promoting South-South cooperation and multilateralism for sustainable development.

      • In the case of the pollution of the Matanza-Riachuelo River (Argentina), the justice system has been paving the way to making environmental law more operational and to the active participation of the community, which contributes to environmental oversight and the enforcement of environmental rulings.

      • In Peru, progress has been made towards the implementation of the National Action Plan on Business and Human Rights, as part of the regulatory process conducted by the Ministry of the Environment including the incorporation of civil society recommendations; the updating of pollutant release and transfer registers; and the Madre de Dios Compact for Environmental Justice, which includes 10 commitments to promote environmental justice in the country (one of these is the observatory on environmental justice, which has been joined by over 20 institutions).
      • Internal processes for the signature and ratification of the Escazú Agreement, with the participation of the various branches of government, civil society and other stakeholders, are under way in Antigua and Barbuda, Bolivia (Plurinational State of), Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Guatemala, Guyana, Mexico, Peru, Saint Lucia and Uruguay, among others.

      • The implementation of the Convention on access to information, public participation in decision-making and access to justice in environmental matters (Aarhus Convention) of the Economic Commission for Europe (ECE) constitutes a benchmark and provides opportunities for interregional collaboration.

      • The Latin American and Caribbean Youth 2030 Forum, held in Santiago in April 2019, involved a series of online conferences where young people learned about the SDGs, with a preparatory phase that included an online consultation and the holding of local youth 50 panels, engaging hundreds of young people from 16 countries of the region.

Recommendations from Latin America and the Caribbean to achieve SDG 16 and its targets

      • The countries of Latin America and the Caribbean that have yet to do so are invited to sign and ratify as the Escazú Agreement soon as possible and the United Nations system, international and subregional organizations, development banks, donors and other relevant stakeholders are invited to contribute to the achievement of SDG 16 and, particularly, to support the early entry into force and implementation of the Escazú Agreement.

      • The countries of the region need to make progress in adopting and implementing laws and regulations fostering access to public information and data accessibility, particularly for individuals and groups in vulnerable situations.

      • It is necessary to develop open government mechanisms and establish ways to expedite administrative procedures.

      • Institutions and the rule of law must be strengthened by restructuring public powers, strengthening their authority with trained personnel, and respecting the separation of powers.

      • Youth participation needs to be followed up, encouraging young people to develop their own channels of participation.
      • There is a need for education, awareness-raising and dissemination campaigns to encourage society to implement the Sustainable Development Goals, with peace as a cross-cutting theme of the 2030 Agenda.

      • The potential of volunteerism and its contribution to the 2030 Agenda should be leveraged through a shift in focus to generate data and measure its impact, as well as its integration into development strategies.

      • Sexism must be combated in the region via workshops on cultural changes, involving women and men; communications campaigns for development and workshops with journalists.

      • In order to implement the goal of social justice for all, new contracts could be generated between the State and citizens to combat inequalities at multiple levels, be they geographical, political, gender-based, ethical, religious, social, economic, cultural or environmental.