26 June 2023, Geneva, Switzerland - Advancing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) requires innovative approaches that go beyond traditional approaches. The United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) is particularly proactive in innovating to be one of the most important institutions to develop methods in keeping with global developments and surrounding circumstances, especially via its significant work towards the achievement of SDG 16 for peace, justice and strong institutions endorsed by its Division for Peace and its inventive work to prevent extremism and counter-terrorism.
Preventing extremism and countering terrorism requires innovations multifold and combine different components
- Technology for Development: UNITAR’s Division for Peace conducts research on innovative learning approaches, methods and tools, as well as applied research to address critical issues such as disaster risk reduction, humanitarian emergencies, and countering terrorism and violent extremism. Harnessing the power of technology, such as mobile applications, data analytics, and digital platforms, to address development challenges lies at the core of its mission. This digital engagement strategy and the use of online platforms are key to combat terrorism and violent extremism.
- Investing in social impact, community cohesion and resilience: UNITAR encourages investment in projects that generate positive social and environmental impacts to promote social cohesion and build resilient societies. To combat extremism and terrorism, groundbreaking approaches are essential and include fostering dialogue and building trust and cooperation between different groups. Recognizing the potential of youth as agents of change is also crucial for peace. In this area, innovative approaches include meaningful participation and empowerment of youth, which enhances the sense of belonging, reduces the risks of extremism, and contributes to addressing its root causes, including addressing issues such as poverty, inequality, social marginalization, lack of access to education, opportunities, and grievances that fuel extremism. The adoption of bottom-up approaches and behavioural change campaigns that put the emphasis on participatory and community-led approaches are fully part of innovative methods to combat terrorism and extremism with a focus on prevention and early intervention. This includes targeted community outreach programs, mentorship initiatives, and support networks that provide individuals at risk of radicalization with alternative narratives, positive role models, and opportunities for personal and professional development.
- Collaboration and Partnerships: Partnerships and cooperation are requirements for addressing the complex challenges of terrorism and violent extremism that need collaborative efforts at all levels. Collaboration promotes the exchange of knowledge, experience and resources. UNITAR plays a key role in sharing cutting-edge knowledge for countries and organizations who can learn and collaborate on innovative approaches that have proven successful in countering terrorism and violent extremism. This enables more effective and sustainable solutions.
By embracing forward-thinking approaches, UNITAR and its Division for Peace accelerate progress towards the SDGs, enhance capacity to effectively counter terrorism and violent extremism and address complex challenges, while simultaneously promoting peace, justice, inclusivity, and sustainable development.