The Link Between Peace and Sustainable Development Banner Image

Peace is a key component of sustainable development. A healthy business environment is important for development, and in conflict-ridden communities, business operations are disrupted due to the unreliable social services and the prevalence of social problems such as poverty, hunger and inequality.

In order to escape direct, structural and/or cultural violence, businesses may be forced to close down and move to safer locations, even as the people remaining in these conflict-ridden areas experience poverty, hunger and decreased opportunities.

The traditional notion of peace—the absence of conflict—is not enough to bring about sustainable development. If a government ends armed hostilities by issuing a ceasefire without addressing its underlying factors, conflict may resume, further disrupting business operations and exacerbating poverty, hunger and inequality.

Two Types of Peace: Negative and Positive

Johan Galtung argued that there are two types of peace: negative peace and positive peace. He defined negative peace as “the absence of violence, absence of war,” and identified three major categories of violence: direct, structural and cultural. Structural violence refers to the unjust systems that marginalize certain groups. Cultural violence pertains to social norms that justify direct and structural violence. Direct violence, such as war and crime, is an outcome of structural and cultural violence.

Galtung described positive peace as the “integration of human society.” Positive peace involves preventing or ending direct violence as well as structural and cultural violence. Unjust social structures and social norms are corrected to avert the occurrence of direct violence.

How Does “Positive Peace” Ensure Sustainable Development?

The Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP) identified eight specific factors that lead to positive peace which have favorable economic, political and social characteristics. They are able to generate peace as well as the desirable outcomes that are connected to peace, such as diversity, economic equality and a healthier environment―qualities that are linked to sustainable development.

The eight factors behind positive peace―also known as the Eight Pillars of Positive Peace―are:

  • Well-functioning government
  • Sound business environment
  • Equitable distribution of resources
  • Acceptance of the rights of others
  • Good relations with neighbors
  • Free flow of information
  • High levels of human capital
  • Low levels of corruption

Achieving Peace and Sustainable Development by Strengthening Society

Positive peace acknowledges that ending conflict is not enough and that true peace requires a more holistic approach. The Eight Pillars of Positive Peace strengthens a society from within by creating an environment that nurtures communities and supports enterprise. A society that can support businesses is a society able to provide basic social services and livelihood opportunities, resulting in peace as well as sustainable development.

In a society where positive peace prevails, all sectors help bring about the positive economic, political and social factors that lead to sustainable development. Businesses, for example, can pay their workers competitive wages, use responsibly-sourced materials and not participate in bribery. With decent wages, workers can afford basic needs, allowing them to become more productive. When manufacturers use responsibly-sourced materials, they contribute to positive change. And when companies do not engage in bribery, they help discourage employees, other businesses and governments from enabling corruption.

These outcomes help ensure greater profitability for enterprises in the future. Promoting peace and sustainable development reduces poverty and prevents conflict, translating to a healthier business environment that allows for a more effective delivery of products and services.


ADEC Innovations is a leading provider of ESG solutions, including fully-integrated industry expertise, software solutions and data management. We help governments and organizations improve performance by recognizing challenges and providing effective solutions. To stay current on global sustainability issues, subscribe to our monthly newsletter, GreenWatch.

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