News and Articles

Can There be Peace in Our Increasingly UNequal World?

September 21, 2016

The International Day of Peace marks our connected global efforts to build a culture of peace and non-violence. This year, the focus of the commemorative day is on The Global Goals, the 17 building blocks of the 2030 Sustainable Development Goal Agenda.

This global occasion prompts a few questions: What exactly do we mean by Peace? Which Sustainable Development Goal is the most important to drive the process of creating peace forward? Can we have meaningful peace without achieving all of the 17 interconnected goals? The seventeen goal framework drives development forward through five interconnected pillars: people, planet, prosperity, peace and partnerships.


These frames create a foundation for the seventeen individual goals which pave the way for a more inclusive, equitable and peaceful world. TakingITGlobal recently explored this question through an interactive workshop at the United Nations Headquarters focused on Goal 10: reduced inequalities. In advance of the United Nations General assembly currently underway in New York, we were invited to engage with youth at the bi-annual Youth Assembly at the UN in order to build a common, connected understanding of how our work relates to this broad global framework.


Inequality is a very important factor to consider, especially if we want peace and development to be experienced and enjoyed by all the members of our society, not just a privileged few. Recognizing that the young people in the room at our workshop are likely to be relatively privileged, we wanted to provoke deep reflections about inequality and our own privilege along with how these factors affect our diverse communities and how we may be benefiting from this unequal footing.

We focused our interactions on small group work as a form of international networking as well as some quick capacity building skills transfer around SMART objectives, Theory of Mind (a tool to increase empathy) and non-violent communication. We also touched upon how humor, art and both statistics and emotions can be used to host difficult conversations that are needed to push our societies forward to a state of peace. Peace comes from within and emanates outwards, spreading the way a passing stranger’s smile can brighten your day or a yawn can suddenly make you more tired than you realize. The effect our actions have on those around us, is not to be underestimated.

Similarly, our own ability to take action in service of our global goals. Peace is an outcome which is supported by all of the goals within our new SDG framework – explicitly detailed in goal 16: Peace, Justice and responsible institutions – but sustainable, lasting meaningful peace – not just the absence of conflict – relies upon holistic thriving of all stakeholders, of our entire community, our global family.  

These overarching global declarations enable a global dialogue about how we can connect and support each other in a positive way – while the framework may sometimes appear broadly thematic and largely out of reach of everyday citizens, there is much we can do, to drive this progress forward. Small actions performed each day may seem tiny compared to the scale that we want to see change occur, however each of us holds a small piece of the puzzle which may be critical to realizing progress within our own communities. Be a piece of the peace!