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

This goal focuses on reducing all forms of violence, ending exploitation, trafficking and violence against and torture of children. The targets promote rule of law, calls for reducing illicit financial and arms flows, reducing corruption, promoting transparency of institutions, promoting participatory decision making and access to information, ensuring legal identity through birth registration, promoting international cooperation, and non-discriminatory laws and policies.

Maintaining sound business ethics and integrity can help strengthen customer relationships, improve reputation and win more business. Businesses no longer view adoption of good governance standards as compliance but also internalize these approaches as part of business risk management strategies.54 MSMEs can adopt strong governance principles if they are provided with the necessary support and resources. This is another strong reason to provide MSMEs with support to formalize where possible, as it brings them in to the broader structures of governance, regulation and protection that can aid in the protection of workers from violence, trafficking or exploitation.

MSMEs have a part to play in conflict and violence prevention. MSMEs provide incomes to poor families, women and youth through employment and entrepreneurship opportunities. Supporting women and youth-led enterprises is therefore considered an effective strategy for violence prevention as incomes from entrepreneurship can motivate young people not to take up arms or to participate in crime. Supporting youth and women-led businesses, particularly those who are marginalized such as persons with disabilities, can contribute to a more inclusive society which in turn promotes peace. Individual MSMEs have the potential to adopt actions in their business practice to contribute to the goal.

Supply chain policies and programmes offer key opportunities for companies to scale up their sustainability practices, thus contributing to the advancement of the SDGs. Traceability is the ability to identify and trace the history, distribution, location and application of products, parts and materials, to ensure the reliability of sustainability claims, in the areas of human rights, labour (including health and safety), the environment and anti-corruption.55  Adopting traceability schemes and initiatives can lead to an increase in market base and appeal (box 6).

Box 6. Promoting stronger governance in MSMEs

Global traceability organizations, such as the Forest Stewardship Council, the Marine Stewardship Council and UTZ Certified, engage with stakeholders along the entire value chain. This allows for the development of a credible and robust chain of custody standards and certification for products from the raw material to the final use phase. Dipantara, a small community wood trading initiative in the province of Java, Indonesia, has developed a group business model aimed at helping smallholder farmers and farmers’ groups in the region sell their wood to the international market. Maisons du Monde, a UN Global Compact participant signatory, and The Forest Trust homeware retail member has supported the Dipantara farmers’ initiative by placing orders for its stores. Dipantara, as a non-profit business entity, partners with farmers’ groups and farmers that have registered with the business. It has successfully helped these farmer groups achieve Forest Stewardship Council certification. The initiative’s efforts help buyers identify the source of wood and trace it back to the tree stump, while at the same time increasing revenues for farmers with smallholdings.

Source: United Nations Global Compact. (2016). A Guide to Traceability for SMEs The Drivers, Opportunities, Challenges and Implementation Steps for Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises (SMEs) Looking to Adopt Traceability in their Supply Chains

Policy measures to support Goal 16:

  • Guide MSME networks and associations to provide ready-made codes of conduct for adopting ethical business practices and standards, to enable smoother integration of these standards across value chains.
  • Ensure that clear and accessible information is available for MSMEs regarding acceptable practices in accordance with international standards regarding violence and exploitation.
  • Support organization or participation of employees in training programmes on prevention of violence; incorporate violence prevention measures in enterprise management regulations.

54 The Sustainable Development Goals Fund (SDG Fund), University of Pennsylvania Law School and McDermott Will & Emery LLP. (2017). Business and SDG 16, Contributing to Peaceful, Just and Inclusive Societies.

55 United Nations Global Compact. (2016). A Guide to Traceability for SMEs The Drivers, Opportunities, Challenges and Implementation Steps for Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises (SMEs) Looking to Adopt Traceability in their Supply Chains.