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Celebrating SDG Flag Day 2023 – where are we now?

25.9.2023 | News item

On the 25th of September, HEUNI is celebrating the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) Flag Day 2023! In 2015, UN Member states adopted 17 SDGs as part of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. These goals will continue to guide global sustainable development until 2030. We are at the mid-way point this year, with eight years behind us and eight more ahead. It is a good time to evaluate where we stand with the Sustainable Development Goals.

SDG and UN logo

There have been successes and moments of progress around the world that we can celebrate. One of these was the global increase in companies reporting on their sustainability factors, including CO2 emissions and occupational health (2023 SDG report, pp37). In recent years, the highest volume of reports has been published in Eastern Asia, Europe and North America (2023 SDG report, pp37). Another success was the increase in stations tracking ocean acidification around the world, from 178 stations in 2021 to 539 in 2023 (2023 SDG report, pp41). This allows for more robust environmental data collection and will hopefully impact local and global responses to climate change.

Nonetheless, many goals have seen inadequate progress. The social, political and ecological landscape that we have entered this decade has played a part in slowing down our progress. A continuing climate crisis, political instability and the erosion of democracy, the eruption of large-scale conflicts, the fast-paced development of artificial intelligence, as well as the Covid-19 pandemic have contributed to a more complex, volatile and in many respects, dangerous, global landscape. In these conditions, working harder to reach equitable, just, and sustainable societies is more urgent than ever before.

HEUNI’s qualitative research projects, specifically relating to trafficking, gender-based violence, and corruption, support multiple SDGs. Let’s take a look at how our work is advancing three of these goals in particular. 

Goal 5: Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls

HEUNI has a long history of researching gender-based violence and contributing to the elimination of violence against women and girls as well as trafficking (goal 5.2) and the elimination of harmful practices, such as forced marriage (goal 5.3) (HEUNI 2020-2023 strategy, pp5).

Our CERV-funded EASY project (‘It is never easy to talk about this’ – Increasing dialogue, awareness, and victim-centred support for victims of forced marriages) contributes to gender-sensitive and victim-centred support for victims of forced marriages. This project supports Goal 5, Gender Equality. Many victims of forced marriages are girls and young women, who do not have access to adequate support. Through this project, we will strengthen community engagement and dialogue, as well as increase the capacity of professionals to identify and address forced marriages.

Read about the Director of HEUNI, Natalia Ollus’, perspectives on HEUNI’s gender-based violence research here.

Listen to our podcast series "Speak up! Your mess will become your message, where migrant women discuss gender-based violence":

Goal 8: Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all

HEUNI has a strong expertise in the fields of labour exploitation, labour trafficking, and corporate crime. We work in particular towards the eradication of forced labour and trafficking (goal 8.7) and the promotion of access to rights for migrant workers (goal 8.8) . Everyone should have the right to fair and safe working environments. However, at this moment migrants face a higher risk of labour exploitation, as well as more difficulties in accessing justice. Our recently launched project ‘Safety for all? Remedy for exploited migrant workers in the Nordic region’ supports Goal 8. This project will pave the way for more ethical working conditions for migrant workers in Finland, Norway and Sweden, and will play a part in building more ethical industries and economies in the Nordic and Baltic Sea region by 2030.

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

Justice continues to be one of the core values at HEUNI. Many of our projects focus on victims of crime, on how we can build better support systems for them, as well as on how current institutions should become more just, victim-centred, and accountable. More specifically, we are working towards reducing violence (goal 16.1) as well as violence against children, including child trafficking (goal 16.2), the promotion of the rule of law (goal 16.3), addressing illicit financial flows and corruption (goals 16.4 and 16.5), and strengthening access to justice and procedural justice (goals 16.7 and 16.a) .

Our recently finalised ‘ELECT-THB – Enhanced Law Enforcement Cooperation and Training on Trafficking in Human Beings’ focused on untangling the human trafficking chain in Finland, Estonia and Latvia. In the project, concrete suggestions on combating human trafficking were proposed for the Finnish police, the Finnish Border Guard, labour inspectors, the Finnish Tax Administration, as well as other groups and organisations. This project advances Goal 16, as it has a strong impact on institutions of different scales and sizes.

Watch the full video series on ELECT-THB here.

For the next eight years and beyond, HEUNI will continue to carry out ground-breaking research to influence policies concerning the prevention of crime and crime control. We are always looking for ways to contribute towards the achievement of peace, justice and strong institutions in line with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Find more resources here:

HEUNI strategy 2020–2023
The Sustainable Development Goals Report, Special Edition 2023
SDG indicators

Emma de Carvalho