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Book chapter - Peer-reviewed, 2019

SDG 16: Peace, justice and strong institutions – a political ecology perspective

McDermott, Constance L.; Acheampong, Emmanuel; Arora Jonsson, Seema; Asare, Rebecca; de Jong, Wil; Hirons, Mark; Khatun, Kaysara; Menton, Mary; Nunan, Fiona; Poudyal, Mahesh; Setyowati, Abidah


Key Points • Understanding the impacts of SDG 16 on forests and people requires attention to the power dynamics that shape how all 17 SDGs are interpreted and implemented across the Global North and South. • As SDGs were agreed upon by nation states, SDG 16 places a strong emphasis on state power and the rule of law. • Yet inclusive governance requires the involvement of diverse actors, and consideration for customary laws and other non-state forms of rulemaking at global to local scales. • Many national laws governing forests and land use favour political elite, large-scale industry actors and international trade. • The development and strengthening of legal frameworks that support all of the SDGs – including those relevant to human rights, income inequalities, land tenure, gender and environmental protection – requires equal or greater priority than law enforcement. Otherwise, law enforcement will reinforce inequities and unsustainable practices. • SDG 16 provides an opportunity to overcome the stereotypes of the Global North as the referential role model for peace and democracy, by highlighting the role of the North in fostering market inequalities and global conflicts, and drawing attention to barriers to democratic and inclusive participation within the Global North. • How transparency, accountability and justice are conceived and prioritised shapes their impact on forests, as well as the degree to which their achievement either empowers forest-dependent peoples or excludes them from meaningful and informed engagement.


forest governance; legal framworks; inclusive governance; forest management

Published in

Book title: Sustainable development goals : their impacts on forests and people
ISBN: 978-1-108-48699-6, eISBN: 9781108765015
Publisher: Cambridge University Press

Authors' information

McDermott, Constance L.
University of Oxford
Acheampong, Emmanuel
Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST)
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Urban and Rural Development
Asare, Rebecca
Nature Conservation Research Centre
de Jong, Wil
Kyoto University
Hirons, Mark
University of Oxford
Khatun, Kaysara
University of Oxford
Menton, Mary
University of Sussex
Nunan, Fiona
University of Birmingham
Poudyal, Mahesh
ForestAction Nepal
Setyowati, Abidah
Australian National University

Sustainable Development Goals

SDG16 Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels

UKÄ Subject classification

Forest Science
Public Administration Studies

URI (permanent link to this page)