SDG #16: Peace, justice and strong institutions | Strategic Risk | Deloitte

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SDG #16: Peace, justice and strong institutions

Sustainable Development Goals Blog Series

On January 1st, 2016, the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development officially came into force. Over the next 15 years, with these 17 goals, countries will combine efforts to end all forms of poverty, fight inequalities and tackle climate change. In this article we aim to familiarize you with SDG 16: Peace, justice and strong institutions.

By Michiel van der Valk | 12-04-2018

What?

Our globalizing world offers lots of opportunities. Through integration of goods, services, capital and ideas, hundreds of millions of people have been lifted out of poverty and an increasing availability of products and services is noted1. At the same time, globalization brings challenges such as unfair trade practices, tax evasion and the unequal division of its benefits among people and regions2. Globalization comes with an increased level of complexity in our supply chains, where the perceptions of risk and workplace safety differ per culture3. This asks for a level of responsibility.

SDG 16 focuses on this responsibility, promoting inclusive and peaceful societies, with access to justice through accountable institutions at all levels. At first sight, this might be considered a matter for government. However, technology is changing ever more rapidly. This makes it hard for regulators to keep up with innovation. Combined with increased scrutiny from the public, companies and the government have a shared responsibility.

Why?

Recent events have shown different reasons why to get engaged with SDG 16. Two examples are identified and explained below:

Responsible taxation and the Panama papers
In April 2016, news was released relating to tax evasion or avoidance practices through offshore accounts. Research shows an estimated loss of tax up to 237 billion for Europe alone4. Although (some of) these transactions may be legally justifiable, it is the morality that caused the uproar. The resulting reputational damage, for both companies and wealthy individuals, offers plenty of reasons why it is beneficial to be transparent and to engage with strong institutions.

Supply chain transparency and the garment industry
The tragedy of Rana Plaza in Bangladesh, where a building collapsed killing more than 1.100 people, occurred nearly five years ago. Rana Plaza was not the first of its kind, but the scale and impact was enough to awaken many. In response, the Apparel and Footwear Supply Chain Transparency Pledge was created. Yet, in 2017, only 17 out of 72 apparel and footwear companies were said to fully align with the pledge standards by the end of 20175. Called out by their name, companies are now listed with their status of alignment. Investors and the general public asking for supplier information to be made public can be seen as a second reason why SDG 16 can be of major importance. Organizations should be held accountable for their actions, which means doing things right even when no one is watching. Being transparent can help in cases of inquiry and can be considered a valuable attribute of a company.

How?

Although the “how” may differ between organizations and countries, two main themes can help identify an organization’s starting point. These are:

Dealing with data
Availability and access to data is a valuable resource for organizations. Yet, it is important to consider what information you need, why you need it, who should have access to it and how long it should remain available.

On the one hand, it can be beneficial to make data publicly available. Informing stakeholders about performances, governance, targets and efforts helps them understand your business. Just the experience of considering what to report, how to collect the information and to whom it might be interesting can provide value insights. Here it is important to not only disclose financial, but also non-financial information.

A way for companies to disclose this information would be through annual reports or on their website. Disclosing information to the public, ranging from crime to safety figures, can help policy makers better understand what is going on. Deloitte has also performed analysis on open data through their State of the State research, providing insights in, for example, education, healthcare, the real estate market and (cyber) crime6.

Sharing your data can make an organization more attractive to outsiders or help affect change. Yet, it is important to consider which information is shared with whom and why. As of the 25th of May, 2018, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is enforced. This effort of harmonizing privacy laws was designed to protect natural persons with regard to the processing of personal data and the free movement of such data7. For more information on how to comply with this regulation whilst being able to benefit from the advantages the data can offer, we kindly refer you to our GDPR articles.


Supply chain thinking
As touched upon in the Why section, responsibility does not end at one’s front gate. It concerns the entire chain, from Cradle-to-Cradle (unfortunately still too often to-Grave). In order to understand an organization’s supply chain, it is important to realize which suppliers and which sub-suppliers it is involved with.

Examples of how to get involved are a supplier code of conduct, a certification scheme or supplier meetings in which best practices are shared. Involvement in the chain can point out opportunities for improvement and enhances relationships with customers, whilst being in control of the chain. For suppliers, being transparent about the work performed and resources used can be of added value in tenders or when providing information for supplier requests.

Being in control of social topics such as working conditions or environmental aspects such as sourcing of materials, can help in responsive and representative decision making. Commitments here can help promote more peaceful and inclusive societies, creating access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels.

By taking the effort to explore what SDG 16 can mean for an organization, it can be a facilitator for many other SDGs. Being able to take responsibility in data, supply chain or governance enables organizations to take on other Sustainable Development practices.

Sustainable Development Goals Blog Series

This blog is part of the Sustainable Development Blog Series: a blog series that highlights the 17 SDGs one by one on a biweekly basis. In these blogs you will find more information about each SDG, why it is important for your organisation to contribute to the achievement of it, and specific examples of how you can do that.

More information?

For more information about the Sustainable Development Goals and what your organisation can do to contribute, please contact Anne Huibrechtse-Truijens via ahuibrechtse@deloitte.nl / +31882882071

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