The High-level Committee on Programmes, at its thirtieth session, deliberated on a discussion paper prepared by the Department of Political Affairs of the Secretariat, entitled “Promoting peaceful, just and inclusive societies and preventing violent conflict”.


The Committee had before it an analytical paper entitled “Peaceful, just and inclusive societies: a think piece on linkages in Agenda 2030”, prepared by the United Nations University in consultation with 21 volunteering entities. In accordance with the directives of CEB, the analysis was focused on Goal 16, which called for the promotion of peaceful and inclusive societies with justice for all, building on the Committee’s earlier work, notably the discussion paper prepared by the Department of Political Affairs.

The paper identified the lack of adequate knowledge and hard evidence on linkages among the Sustainable Development Goals as a primary constraint for the United Nations in effectively providing advice to Member States in that regard. That constraint was especially pronounced with respect to Goal 16. Nevertheless, there were opportunities for the United Nations system to act collectively, to exert leverage and influence through partnerships with other actors, especially at the national level, and to return to the normative fundamentals as a point of universal engagement. That was predicated upon investments in knowledge, innovation and experimentation, the empowerment of staff and leadership with the capacity to engage in system thinking, co-creation and managing change and innovation, perspectives that were also relevant to the Committee’s consideration of the United Nations leadership model.

Members broadly agreed with and welcomed the conclusion on the need to fill the gaps in knowledge, thinking, data and analytical capacity in the United Nations system, endowing the system with the capacity to support interlinked Sustainable Development Goals and provide differentiated programmatic support in response to countries’ diverse needs and priorities. A considerable number of Committee members pointed to the need to consider the country context and the differentiated needs and priorities of countries when exploring interlinkages among the Sustainable Development Goals.

Members underscored the importance of jointly defining and working collaboratively towards shared outcomes across United Nations system and government entities. Areas that required specific attention in that regard included strengthening equality, especially gender equality, promoting social inclusion and protecting human rights. Members expressed the view that both incentives and institutional mechanisms needed to be put in place to help United Nations country teams to better integrate by working across mandates and structures. The diversity of the United Nations system, and the knowledge and expertise that were locked up within it, were its strongest assets. To unlock that knowledge required a leadership model that promoted a culture of collaboration and the ability to drive change.


The Committee tasked the Secretariat with developing, in consultation with relevant entities and taking into account the discussions just concluded, a concrete proposal on how to take forward an effort aimed at enhancing the United Nations system’s knowledge, thinking and data capacity, for consideration by the Committee at its thirty-third session.