The International Day of Peace has been celebrated internationally on the 21st September each year since 2001, when the United Nations (UN) General Assembly unanimously approved a resolution that would give the occasion a fixed calendar date, as a day of ceasefire and non-violence.

An earlier UN resolution was passed in 1981, also in support of an international day of peace. This year we are encouraged to reflect on the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which were unanimously adopted by the UN in New York in September 2015. The successor to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the SDGs are a diverse range of goals and targets designed to encourage the countries of the world to pursue a common course of action in response to issues such as poverty, climate change, and conflict.

Unlike the MDGs, the SDGs include a goal that has been crafted in mind of the need for more peaceful, inclusive, secure and just societies - Goal 16. World leaders have committed to achieve the 17 SDGs by 2030, a colossal challenge and one which will require both extensive financial resourcing as well as political commitment. Underscoring this initiative is the global pledge to leave no one behind, an aspirational undertaking to tackle not just the symptoms but the causes of exclusion and marginalisation. At Cord, we understand the consequences when sections of society feel left out and poorly represented: frustration, resentment, division, and conflict. In fact, this understanding drives us to work with those on the fringes of society across Africa and Asia to ensure that they become engaged, consulted, and meaningfully represented when decisions are made that affect their lives.

On the International Day of Peace this year, as the UN encourages us to see the SDGs as the 'Building Blocks for Peace', here at Cord we reflect on the events of last year that contributed to the development of these goals.

As excitement and expectation levels peaked at the UN this time last year, here in the UK, Cord was working behind the scenes with other international charities to advise the UK Parliament's International Development Committee on the most effective course of action it could take to ensure that Britain makes a lasting and effective contribution to the achievement of the SDGs by 2030. We wrote, and spoke, of the need for lateral, joined up thinking around the connection between poverty and conflict, urging the British government to pledge financial and political commitments to peace, justice, and inclusion internationally as a sound investment in the health of the planet.

We have every reason to feel excited at the commitment that has been shown by world leaders to reducing violence, tackling corruption, and providing justice for all. So on the International Day of Peace this year, why not get in touch with your MP and ask them to take up the issue of Goal 16 next time they are in parliament? Or maybe speak to your friends and family about the importance of peace and justice in any environment where we understand poverty to be a problem. One of the most valuable things about having a day each year committed to promoting more peaceful ways of living is the opportunity it presents to share messages of peace, hope and positive coexistence with those around you. From the team at Cord, we wish you a safe and happy International Day of Peace.