SDG 16+ Beyond the COVID-19 Pandemic Virtual Session Series

On 28 & 29 January, 2021 the 16+ Forum and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Worship of Costa Rica co-hosted four virtual sessions on key SDG 16+ issues in the lead-up to the Annual Showcase in San José later this year.

On 28 & 29 January, 2021 the 16+ Forum and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Worship of Costa Rica co-hosted four virtual sessions on key SDG 16+ issues in the lead-up to the Annual Showcase in San José later this year. Discussions provided stakeholders from around the world with a glimpse of what to expect from the conversations that will take place in Costa Rica in the fall of 2021, with over 100 participants tuning in to each session and panelists covering issues such as shrinking civic space, corruption, data collection, climate action and justice, inclusion of marginalized populations, weakening democratic institutions and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on peace, justice and inclusion at all levels, to name just a few. 

The recording of each of the four sessions can be found below, alongside a short description of the session in question, as well as the list of speakers.

Session 1: SDG 16+ and the COVID-19 Pandemic

This session provides an overview of the links between the COVID-19 pandemic and SDG 16+, both in terms of the negative impact that the pandemic has had on peaceful, just and inclusive societies around the world, as well as the ways in which SDG 16+ can help us recover from the pandemic and address the socio-economic and political crises we are currently facing. A particular focus was placed on identifying solutions and highlighting concrete actions that can, have and should be taken to build peaceful, just and inclusive societies, all the while directly contributing to the local, national and international response efforts to build back better.

Within this context, issues such as the shrinking of civic space, a lack of public participation in decision-making, female and youth inclusion in public processes, a rise in cases of domestic and gender-based violence, lack of access to justice, education and state services, corruption, and the importance of localization were covered, among others. Cross-cutting issues such as gender equality, youth inclusion and sustaining peace also featured in the discussions.


  • H.E. Rodolfo Solano – Minister of Foreign Affairs of Costa Rica
  • H.E. Marie Chatardová – Permanent Representative of the Czech Republic to the United Nations
  • Mr. José Vicente Troya – UNDP Resident Representative in Costa Rica
  • Mr. John Romano – Coordinator of the Transparency, Accountability and Participation (TAP) Network

Moderator: Mr. Bonian Golmohammadi – Secretary-General of the World Federation of United Nations Associations

Session 2: The Erosion of Public Trust – Rethinking the Road to Good Governance

This session takes a closer look at the drivers of public trust in state institutions and the concrete issues that have led to its erosion. The pandemic has undoubtedly worsened this issue, with institutions unable to adequately respond to the health, socio-economic and political crises, and governments using restrictions and lockdowns as justifications to curtail the freedoms and rights of their people, thereby deepening inequalities across the board. However, this lack of trust was present before the outbreak of COVID-19, and will continue to threaten societies around the world well-beyond the pandemic if concerted action is not taken immediately.

From participatory decision-making, the inclusion of marginalized populations and the need to rebuild a social contract that resonates with all, to combatting corruption, strengthening public institutions and implementing measures to increase transparency, accountability and access to information, this session touched upon the wide-ranging issues that must be addressed to uphold the principles of good governance and re-establish the trust of the people. Cross-cutting issues such as gender equality, youth inclusion, human rights and sustaining peace also featured in the discussions.


  • H.E. Geannina Dinarte Romero – Minister of the Presidency of Costa Rica
  • Ms. Valeria Mosquera Acosta – Regional Coordinator, Ruta Pacifica de las Mujeres, Colombia
  • Mr. Peter van Sluijs – Coordinator of the Civil Society Platform for Peacebuilding and Statebuilding
  • Dr. Hans Born – Assistant Director of the Geneva Centre for Security Sector Governance

Moderator: Mr. Stefano Berti – Senior Advisor on Fragility, Conflict and Violence, Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs

Session 3: Mainstreaming SDG 16+ – The Challenges of Monitoring and Reporting

With SDG 16 under review for the second time at the High-level Political Forum (HLPF) in July 2021, this session focuses on the Voluntary National Review (VNR) and the post-VNR processes, as well as the challenges of monitoring and reporting on peaceful, just and inclusive societies. VNRs provide a critical opportunity for countries to report on progress being made on the SDGs, and for all stakeholders to better understand what areas require the most attention and resources. In the face of a global health crisis and many national socio-economic and political crises, such an exercise can feed into meaningful national planning and priorities tied to the recovery of the pandemic. 


  • H.E. María del Pilar Garrido – Minister of Planning and Economic Policy of Costa Rica
  • Dr. Sarah Lister – Head of Governance, UNDP
  • Ms. Malene Barbosa Almeida – Coordinator of the Praia City Group on Governance Statistics
  • Mr. Ismail Farjar – Head of the Center for Policy Analysis & Somaliland SDG 16+ Coalition

Moderator: Ms. Priya Sood – Coordinator of the Global Alliance for Reporting on Progress on Peaceful, Just and Inclusive Societies

Session 4: Access to Justice – Politics, Rights and Inclusion

Prior to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, there were more than 5 billion people with unmet justice needs. The major shortcomings of justice systems around the world were both highlighted and exacerbated by the restrictions and lockdowns imposed over the last nine months. These have made it that much more difficult to make progress on providing equal access to justice for all, including reaching those furthest behind, such as marginalized populations living in remote areas of the country. Both before and during the pandemic, justice actors from all sectors of society have developed new collaborations, introduced people-centered justice innovations, and found new ways to empower people and communities.

This session looks at two specific areas of common justice problems within the Latin American regional context. The first is that of climate change and environmental degradation, and includes issues such as land grabbing and indigenous rights, as well as the protection of environmental activists and justice defenders as enshrined in the Escazú Agreement. The second area is that of justice for women and the prevention of violence against women and girls, which includes the dual need to respond to the increase in gender-based violence during the pandemic and to empower women in order to increase their independence.

A focus was placed on identifying strategies for collaboration between different actors, analyzing mechanisms to protect justice defenders and reflecting on the complementary roles of different justice actors in addressing these issues.


  • H.E. Fernando Cruz Castro – President of the Supreme Court of Costa Rica
  • H.E. María Fernanda Rodríguez – Former Vice-Minister of Justice of Argentina
  • Ms. Irene Murillo – Executive Director of CEDARENA (Center of Environmental Law and Natural Resources), Costa Rica
  • Ms. Denise Dora – Founder & CEO of THEMIS, Brazil

Moderator: Ms. Liv Tørres – Director of the Pathfinders for Peaceful, Just and Inclusive Societies

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