The 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) have put violence reduction at the heart of global efforts to create sustainable societies. The SDG agenda is an extraordinary window of opportunity to make significant progress towards reducing all forms of interpersonal violence. However, it also poses vast challenges. Achieving significant population-level reductions across the world within less than two decades presents a task for policy and research at a scale for which no precedent exists in the field of violence prevention.

In my talk I will outline the knowledge and strategies needed to meet this challenge. I will argue, first, that scientific evidence-based on randomized trials is important, but not sufficient. We also need to understand the mechanisms that drive major population-wide declines. Second, research suggests that specific violence prevention programming played a subordinate role in the reduction of violence at the population level. A more comprehensive approach should integrate emerging knowledge about the effects of broader public health policies, for example in the field of the prevention and treatment of mental health more generally. Third, I will argue that the widespread view of an opposition between repression and prevention needs to be overcome. I will conclude with an overview of a global research initiative called Evidence for Better Lives, which aims to combine innovative research, capacity building and policy change in relation to violence against children.


Manuel Eisner is Wolfson Professor of Criminology at the Institute of Criminology of the University of Cambridge. He is also director of the Violence Research Centre. His research interests include the comparison of violence across societies and over time, the dynamics of human development and antisocial behaviour, and the prevention of violence.