The Role of Families and Family Policies in Achieving Inclusive Societies

The implementation, success, and sustainability of SDGs 16 and 11 are greatly dependent on a family focused approach that takes into consideration the contexts within which decisions about laws, policies, and programmes are made. Isolated approaches that target individuals without consideration of the larger family environments in which they are embedded are destined to fail. It is thus, imperative that families in all their various forms, need to be recognized, targeted, strengthened, and supported.

SDG16 promoting peaceful and inclusive societies relies on families to create and raise the next generation of peaceful, stable citizens and productive workers. Encouraging positive child and youth development is a key component of this goal, as well as stabilizing family environments through strengthening family relationships and providing basic financial stability. The eradication of poverty is key to decreasing stressors on families.

SDG16.3 promoting the rule of law lays the foundation for peace. Regulatory frameworks that are based on a human rights approach, promote participation, take into account gender equality and protect marginalized groups. States have an obligation under the international covenant on economic, social and cultural rights that was adapted in 1966 to care for the social and economic welfare of their citizens. Children specifically have a legal right to family life.

SDG16.9 providing legal identity for all is a fundamental aspect of human rights. Proportionally, women and marginalized groups are less likely to have a legal identity and face more and higher barriers. Lack of legal identity hinders the ability to exercise civil and political rights and secure socio-economic benefits from the state. The displacement of over 65 million people as of the end of 2016 also creates serious challenges with respect to access to legal identities.

SDG 11.1 ensuring access for all to adequate safe and adequate housing and services is foundational for family life: having a decent home allows members to access education, health, and employment opportunities. Specifically, low-income families are affected by sub-standard housing. States need to regulate the runaway housing markets that are dominating the global rental and homeownership scene. Moreover, contemporary experiments in multigenerational living promise to re-center family life and are leading to successful outcomes for youth and the elderly.

SDG 11.3 enhancing participatory urbanization can only occur if representation from multiple constituencies throughout society work together. Inclusive societies take into account the special needs of women, and vulnerable and disadvantaged groups. Inclusion leads to the design of more functional urban spaces.

SDG11.7 providing access to safe and inclusive green spaces is key for encouraging well-being. Recent research indicates that being able to access nature facilitates physical and mental health and connectedness to family, friends and home.

The 2030 Agenda is based on integration and an emphasis on a global compact focusing on universal participation, shared responsibility, and improved accountability. Sustainable development can only be carried out through a focus on families combined with participatory leadership, adherence to the rule of law, and a stronger role advocating for their citizens by states. Joint efforts by transnational, national, and local stakeholders will be the key to success.

Read the full background paper HERE.