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30 January 2018
New Frontiers in Peace Metrics Report
By Polina Adamovich, Program Assistant, UNA-NCA

United by a strong commitment to achieving Sustainable Development 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” – UNA-NCA, the Stimson Center and the Alliance for Peacebuilding held a discussion on peace metrics, featuring Steve Killelea and Michelle Breslauer from the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP) sharing their new report on methodology and challenges around measuring the SDG16.

The event started with an opening by Melanie Greenberg, President & CEO of the Alliance for Peacebuilding, and Richard Ponzio, Director of the Just Security 2020 Program at the Stimson Center and Co-Chair of the UNA-NCA Peace & Security Committee, introducing specific challenges associated with measuring peace as well as the progress made in this field over the last decade, including the launch of the Global Peace Index.

Mr. Killelea began the SDG16 Progress Report presentation by underlining the positive shift from the Millennium Development Goals which lacked peace as a separate development path, and emphasized an inextricable connection of the new goal with other SDGs. He moved on by introducing some key findings and results in peacebuilding work over the last decade. To assess progress on each of the SDG16 individual targets globally as well on the national level, the IEP used a three-dimensional methodology including data availability, indicator performance, and indicator trends. Overall, on average 60% of data for all indicators was available, performance of 94% of data was marked as “good,” 33% of countries improved on all indicators, 33% fell, and around 33% did not change. 

Further Mr. Killelea talked about some findings in measuring the elements of the positive peace concept such as a cost of violence and potential “freeing” of development resources that its reduction would bring. According to Mr. Killelea, one of the problems that can lead to wrong analysis is contradiction in terms used by different countries, and thus looking closely into the details is a path to a better data interpretation. Apart from unavailability of complete data in many regions, the presenter stressed another issue with data collection – “data cherry picking” – that results in positively biased results, and expressed hopes for improving ability to verify the veracity of information reported by governments.
The presentation was followed by an open discussion with the audience including representatives from USAID, Search for Common Ground, Saferworld, SDG.org, UNA-NCA, and others. The topics included predictions for the future of SDG16 in relation to a crackdown on civil society in many countries around the world, ways of measurement of the third sector engagement, qualitative analysis of data, involvement of the private sector through public-private partnerships, and issues with comparison of country-level indicators. Mr. Killelea concluded the event with underscoring the importance of understanding imperfect data, calling for careful data analysis, as well as emphasizing the positive trends in peacebuilding reflected in a transition from MDGs to SDGs and adoption of the positive peace concept.