Shaping fair cities

SDG 16 in Falköping, Sweden

An analysis of what needs to be done, good examples and tools in order to achieve the 2030 Agenda's SDG 16 (peace, justice and strong institutions)

Violence in all its forms is one of the greatest threats to development both at the individual level and at the societal level. Violence also destroys the interpersonal trust and social cohesion that is the basis for a society's economic, environmental and social development.

Sweden is a peaceful country with well-functioning institutions, strong confidence in the justice system, low corruption and high interpersonal trust. However, Sweden has an extensive export of military equipment, which among other things constitutes a conflict of objectives with feminist foreign policy and Global Development Policy.

Some nationally identified challenges:

  • Criticism from international human rights review bodies regarding the status of human rights conventions in the national legal order. 

  • There is no national strategy for combating corruption. 

  • A slightly increased perceived insecurity. 

  • Violent extremism and organized crime. 

  • Children who are subject to abuse and sexual abuse. 

  • Swedish military equipment exports entail a conflict of objectives.

The current government [1] drives the issues including a strategy for the national work on human rights. In addition, there are specific strategies for people belonging to different groups, such as the national minorities and LGBT-persons. The government has also decided on a national plan against racism, similar forms of hostility and hate crimes. It has also decided on a method, called Sakråd, to systematically take advantage of civil society expertise on various issues.

Active tools and inserts include:

  • Reform program for reducing segregation.
  • A new authority, the Delegation Against Segregation.
  • Crime prevention programs - Together against crime.
  • A ten-year national strategy to prevent and combat men's violence against women.

Strong and independent media are central to a viable democracy and scrutiny of the exercise of power. In 2018, the Government submitted a bill to Parliament with proposals for two new forms of media support aimed at strengthening journalism throughout the country. An action plan to prevent and deal with threats and hatred against journalists, politically elected officials and artists has been decided.

Sweden has also committed to measure progress in the 16 objectives on the basis of voluntary supplementary indicators for the developed by the Community of Democracies [2] supported by, inter alia, Sweden.

Current state

Several efforts are underway to strengthen security and inclusion. As a good example in Falköping, the Social Sustainability Committee, which was established in 2019, will be raised to take over the responsibilities of the local Public Health Council, the Crime Prevention Council and the Diversity Committee. The motive for the changed organization is to strengthen the whole and work on the gaps in the quest for a socially sustainable society.

“Today there are councils and other political steering groups under the municipal council, which together capture a variety of social sustainability issues without direct interrelationship. In light of this, the municipal council proposes to establish a committee on social sustainability issues. The work of the committee must have a whole-municipality perspective and contribute to the development of a socially sustainable society and create a more coherent political management and governance of the social sustainability dimension” (KSAU: Dnr 2018/00366 003).

The committee's mission is to promote a more socially sustainable Falköping by leading, coordinating and pursuing active and systematic social sustainability work in all committees and municipal companies. Drive on and follow up work on co-creation processes and citizen dialogue work in the municipality. Surveillance and developing strategies and initiatives linked to the priorities of social sustainability, and following up on the outcome of these, and raising awareness internally and externally about the importance of a social sustainability perspective.

We have a fear that the field of work will be too large and that the consequence may be that other cross-sectoral working groups, such as preventative advice in collaboration. It is important to ensure executive work. Kennert Orlenius, researcher at the Collage of Borås [3], notes, however, that the importance of the Council in relation to major challenges such as Housing / Security / Health and City & Country [4].

Orlenius [5] further writes that: “The key from the municipal residents' perspective is not to acquire the concept of social sustainability and theoretical first its meaning but primarily to see what it means in their everyday lives. What decisions are being made that promote the conditions and opportunities for a good life in Falköping? Not just for some, but for everyone. A challenge is in that work is priorities and balances between short-term versus long-term efforts. Just in this context is not the same as the same for everyone but instead give priority to those who have the greatest needs. It is an educational challenge to be able to explain and convince local residents about well-founded reasons for such decisions. Especially important are long-term efforts that affect children and young people.” [6]

Orlenius refer also in his report to the possibility that by so called IOPs strengthen civil society participation in the quest for increased social sustainability. However, a recommendation of caution is called for, where one can argue that professionalization and governance of associations and civil society in the long run is counterproductive in terms of voluntary commitment and not least role distribution. The logic and strength of civil society lies in the free and voluntary. Here it is important to define boundary and role distribution.

Many good examples are ongoing that create meetings between people in different ways is being done in Falköping. Some examples include:

- SFI learning centers and adult education.         

- The inclusion network.         

- Young people get the word - Culture / Leisure. Resources 14-18 years.         

- The work of the Church of Sweden and culture / theater         

- Linguist         

- Connect Falköping         

- Democracy inquiry - work / housing / children & young people         

- Young municipal developers         

- Together for inclusion         

- Unbreakable         

- Security SMS         

- Backdraft         

But also challenges such as that the inclusion work is easily constructed, a form of dominant inner leadership where the own norms remain invisible. There is also a concern about cronyism in which some issues are more important than others, and processes do not appear to be sufficiently transparent. The security issue also has a need to be more clearly coordinated.

The carbon measurements indicate that there is an improvement potential regarding safety factors. But why not strengthen the strong turnout through an electoral festival, or electoral festival in various parts of the municipality where democracy is celebrated and the citizen dialogue is at the center with the support of civil society, popular education and more.

The picture shows that there is an improvement potential regarding security and violence prevention.

Recommendations, among others:

- Define working methods for the Social Sustainability Committee and ensure collaboration with other cross-sectoral working groups, such as Security - SMS       

- Strengthen cooperation with Civil Society, associations and education further, not least in the countryside.                                                                                                          

- Focus on what works. Celebrate for example the high voter turnout.

[1] The text is taken entirely from the government's own texts on the work for Agenda 2030. See further

[2] The Community of Democracies 'mission to support democratic institutions and promote the democratic values ​​enshrined in the Warsaw Declaration is firmly anchored in the United Nations' 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda, which reaffirms that there can be no sustainable development without peace, nor peace. Without sustainable development; acknowledging the importance of democracy as a precondition for economic and social development. The Sustainable Development Goals recognize that human rights, the rule of law, good governance, and peace and security are crucial to sustainable development, all of which are at the core of the Community's work.       
While Goal 16 creates a visible framework to contribute to strengthening democracy worldwide, and its elements of peace, just and inclusive societies are central to the mandate of the Community, other Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of particular importance to the work of the CoD also include SDG5 and SDG17. Goal 5 which sets out to achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls, particularly its sub-target 5.5 on ensuring women's full and effective participation and equal opportunities for leadership at all levels of decision-making in political, economic and public life. Goal 17 on strengthening the means of implementing and revitalizing the global partnership for sustainable development, particularly through the sub-target on strengthening multi-stakeholder partnerships. With broad geographical participation, from new and old democracies, both from global south and developed countries, and the involvement of different stakeholders, in particular civil society, the Community of Democracies has a structure that facilitates a multi-stakeholder and cross-sectoral approach necessary. To help move forward the 2030 Agenda and preserve its integrity. 

[3] Orlenius, A socially sustainable Falköping
[4] Ibid s 12-13
[5] Ibid
[6] Orlenius , A socially sustainable Falköping, Report 3

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last modified 2020-10-26T15:35:30+01:00
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