7-8 JUNE 2017 / Tour & Taxis / Brussels

To achieve agenda 2030, give peace a chance

To achieve agenda 2030, give peace a chance

Why the security-development nexus is vital to implement SDGs

Thursday, June 8, 2017 - 10:45 to 12:00

Key points

  • Learn from follies in Afghanistan and Iraq by ensuring security and allowing development specialists to focus on their respective strengths. Soldiers should not be delivering aid, just as aid workers should not be responsible for security.
  • Security and development specialists should coordinate their efforts to deliver ‘peace dividends’ as rapidly and extensively as possible.
  • Companies can help secure peace through jobs and employment, but risk-averse companies need stronger incentives to invest in countries transitioning out of conflict.
  • We need to reimagine the future to meet the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals, challenging preconceived ideas and beliefs about the relationship between security and development.


We cannot have peace without development by 2030, and we cannot have development without peace. This is the dilemma that the Commission's Directorate-General for International Cooperation and Development (DG DEVCO) used to set the tone for the panel discussion in a room full of enthusiastic participants.

The panellists have all confronted this challenge, but in different settings ranging from negotiating tables with world leaders and corporate boardrooms to the communities where peace is fragile and conflict runs ‘hot’.

The failures of Afghanistan and Iraq hung heavy in the room. A representative from Agence Française de Développement compared these situations to an emergency hospital room, where too many doctors operate in isolation performing surgery outside their specialties. The lesson is to let each specialist do what they are trained to do and prepare to be part of a coordinated team. Soldiers should not be delivering aid, just as aid workers should not be responsible for security.

Instead, he argued, each specialist should focus on their strengths, leveraging their competitive advantage to deliver peace dividends at the greatest possible speed and on the widest possible scale. These sentiments resonated with a peacebuilding leader working in La Paz, Columbia.

While Columbia has transitioned from a failed to fragile state after nearly two decades of civil war, the so-called peace dividends have yet to reach many Columbians. In many rural areas, government services are still non-existent. Vigilante law continues to reign supreme, undermining peacebuilding efforts. Political leadership could help to turn Columbia’s peace agreement from paper into practice.

The EDD Young Leader on the panel nodded in agreement as an advocate for ethnic and religious minorities in a fragile region of the southern Philippines. She is shining a spotlight on the inequities at the heart of this conflict for the Muslims in a majority Christian nation. Securing peace, in her view, requires delivering the peace dividends of respect and opportunity they have long sought. 

The representative from GIZ offered his perspective on the fragility of peace from the Palestinian territories where GIZ has supported programmes to turn combatants into police officers. While the region remains ‘hot’, giving these former soldiers employment and a sense of purpose under Palestinian law has helped to cool tensions and restore some confidence in government.

With conflicts raging worldwide around natural resources such as gold and diamonds, the representative from Rio Tinto faced a skeptical audience about one of the world’s largest mining companies. The real troublemakers, he argued, are not publicly listed companies such as Rio Tinto, which are beholden to risk-averse shareholders and lawyers. Instead, it is the small firms that operate with impunity in countries like the Democratic Republic of the Congo, fueling conflicts or worse and profiting from the situation.

When companies such as Rio Tinto re-enter a fragile state, this should be seen as a sign of progress and stability. Companies can help secure peace through jobs and employment, but risk-averse companies need stronger incentives to invest in countries transitioning out of conflict.

The moderator concluded by encouraging panelists and audience members to reimagine the future based on this debate. Everyone needs to challenge their preconceived ideas and beliefs to achieve the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals, the original inspiration for the session.


‘My guys know how to win the war, but they don’t know how to win the peace’ is an often-quoted statement from the French military. It is a sentiment shared by American defence leaders who warn that if funding for the US State Department – which includes humanitarian aid – is cut, they will need to buy more ammunition. Both the French and the Americans have made the case for world leaders to help development practitioners do their jobs because ultimately they are the exit strategy.

Organised by

    Shada Islam
    Director of Policy
    Friends of Europe
    Hannes Lambrecht
    Advisor, Sector Programme Peace and Security, Disaster Risk Management
    Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit
    Maria-Manuela Cabral
    Head of Unit for Fragility and Resilience
    European Commission - DG for International Cooperation and Development
    Farahnaz Ghodsinia
    EDD Young Leader, Philippines
    Lawrence Dechambenoit
    Vice President Corporate Relations Africa
    Olivier Ray
    Head of Sector, Crisis Prevention and Post-Conflict Recovery
    Agence Française de Développement
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