SDG 16: Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions – A Political Ecology Perspective


This chapter assesses the implications of UN SDG 16: ‘Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions’ for both forests and people. Particular focus is placed on three thematic areas: 1) peace and the reduction of armed conflict, 2) the rule of law, accountability, transparency, and access to justice and 3) inclusiveness and participation. Conflict is widely variable in its effects, and may either prevent agricultural expansion or drive illicit crop production, and foster migration in or out of forested areas; while peace is often accompanied by state-supported mining and expansion of commercial crops. Regarding rule of law, forest policy in many countries favours political elite, large-scale industry actors and international trade. Hence, if SDG implementation strengthens state institutions, the ‘rule of law’ and transparency linked with international trade, it is likely to reinforce existing inequalities, unless it is counter-balanced with legal reforms that strengthen local rights to land and resources. While there has been much recent progress in promoting ‘participatory’ forest management, this is often tightly controlled by the state, contributing to local administrative burdens without redistributing power and benefits. In sum, the impacts of SDG 16 on forests and people depend on how it shapes power and resource distribution.

Sustainable Development Goals: Their Impacts on Forests and People