Care International estimates that on average 70 people die or are seriously injured by mines and explosives every day, half of which are children who are often playing, collecting firewood and water, or conducting other essential chores.
During a recent UN Agency for Mine Action (UNMAS) global conference which took in February 2018 in Geneva, over 500 delegates explored links between mine action and the Sustainable Development Goals. Conversations were clustered around three important pillars:
- How mine action, which is not explicitly mentioned in the SDGs goals and targets, can contribute to achieving of the Goals, within both humanitarianism and development;
- Promote mainstreaming of mine action within national SDG development plans and implementation, to crate links with broader human development;
- Partnerships which can make mine action more impactful within the SDGs.
— UNMAS (@UNMAS) February 19, 2018
Given the humanitarian and developmental impact of mines, cluster munitions, and other explosive remnants of war, mine action is often at the forefront of rebuilding communities. This field has collected a wealth of valuable experience in strategic areas such as information management systems and in working with most vulnerable parts of society, whose vulnerability is often compounded by the remnants of war. This background can be now used as inputs into the conversations about “leaving no one behind” and into techniques of data collection.
Due to its emphasis on peace and justice, SDG 16 provides the most direct entry point for mine action, in particular SDG target 16.1 seeks to ‘significantly reduce all forms of violence and related death rates everywhere’. A recent report by UNDP and the Geneva International Center for Humanitarian Demining (GICHD) offers an analysis of much wider contributions that mine action on the various SDGs. 1
Source: Leaving No One Behind, Mine Action and Sustainble Development Goals, UNDP and the GICHD, 2017.
Key points from the conversation: Let’s Talk Business: Mine Action, the Private Sector and the SDGs which happened on the margins of the UNMAS conference highlighted examples and strategies of mine action that catalyze “development multipliers” across many SDGs:
- If mine action is mainstreamed with into the national development framework, dividends from clearing and releasing the land can be mainstreamed and be better understood. For example, in Cambodia releasing over 1500 KM2 of cleared land has had a multiplying effect on people’s income and well-being as they started agricultural activities. Since, the efforts have been joined by the private sector who also drive sharing of data which enable a better understanding of the results.
- The roles of the private sector are multiple, ranging from corporate social responsibility to core business and providing technical solutions. For example, the Lebanon strategy for mine action 2011-2020 contributed to the long-term development of the country, benefiting tourism, and agriculture by clearing the contaminated land. A long-term, corporate social responsibility partnership between Lebanon Mine Action Centre and Blom Bank contributed to the results and the Bank has provided capital, employee involvement, and strong advocacy.
- Mine Action’s extensive experience in managing information systems can be used for boarder SDGs data gathering. An exciting case was presented by ESRI, a company which started utilizing geographic information system technology for sharing information about contaminated areas and today offers interesting solutions of using SDG data for storytelling with maps and narratives.
- Technological innovations and promising solutions are driven in large by the private sector can be scaled by government policy-making through partnerships. However, the private sector and philanthropy need a “seat at the table” with governments to ensure that collaboration is effective, reinforced by systemic communication, and trust. A good example of a government – business partnership is Connecting Business Initiative (CBI) which builds capacities of small and medium business in preparing, responding and recovering in humanitarian disasters and conflict settings. Supporting 19 business led networks, CBI through networks and offering tools connects private sector with the national disaster management offices.
- The unique contributions that philanthropy can bring into the conversation. Although data shows that philanthropy overwhelmingly focuses on SDG 3 and 4 -- there are emerging trends where foundations can reassess their strategies to increase impact using the SDGs framework. For example, the SDG Philanthropy Platform has engaged with a group of Colombian foundations who have collectively assessed that sustainable peace will require investing in a full range of SDGs.
Mine action is another field of development practice picking up a conversation about the importance of holistic approach and multi-stakeholder partnerships for the SDGs. Integrating mine action into broader SDGs inspired national development frameworks is a promising trend which demonstrates whole- of -society approach and breaking of siloes. The challenge ahead is the implementation. While conversations like the side event at the 21st UNMAS conference is a step forward, we must move from talk to action. The clock is ticking and the challenges are massive. The recent UN report shows that currently the progress on the Goals is too slow to meet the deadline. While the governments and other partners are reconfiguring to adjust to the SDGs challenges, we cannot forget that actually meeting the deadlines is the biggest benefit of the Agenda2030. This is a call to action!
Author Karolina Mzyk Callias is Policy Specialist, Foundations at UNDP/SDG Philanthropy Platform.