Leveraging the different experiences in societies is the only way to achieve the Sustainable Development Agenda
The 2017 High Level Political Forum (HLPF) took place at the United Nations (UN) Headquarters in New York between the 10th and 19th of July. The largest and most relevant UN platform to discuss and review implementation of the Sustainable Development Agenda with Member States and all stakeholders convened under the theme “Eradicating poverty and promoting prosperity in a changing world”.
Dianova was present with two representatives, Saionara König-Reis and Joanna Nappi, who covered together official Member States meetings, side events and civil society meetings, focusing mostly on issues related to poverty eradication, gender equality, health, youth engagement, and civil society participation.
The public interest in the HLPF has been increasing exponentially each year. From 700 participants in 2013, this year over 2400 individuals from across the globe and across the different sectors in societies were gathered around the nearly 300 events taking place during these days. The increasing interest in the Forum is partially due to the ownership generated by the post 2015 participatory process that led to the current text of the Agenda 2030 and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Civil Society is proud to have been part of this history and holds great responsibility for much of the advanced language maintained in the Agenda 2030.
Yet, almost two years after the adoption of the Agenda in September 2015, civil society organizations (CSOs) are struggling with shrinking spaces to contribute with the planning, implementing, monitoring and reporting of progress on the SDGs.
The challenges take various shapes in the different contexts. To name a few, 1. international donors are losing interest in some developing regions and therefore constraining CSOs capabilities to deliver their share of the SDGs; and 2. fragile democracies continue to exclude civil society from decision-making tables and from reporting processes, wasting their expertise and extra set of hands that could help accelerate the pace of delivery of the SDGs.
At the international level the opportunities for civil society participation are also restricted: in the official meetings most of the opportunities of interaction between civil society and Member States are channeled through the Major Groups and other stakeholders structure which, although are important spaces for self-organization, in practice risk to become a way of creating one extra layer that separates CSOs from the table. In addition, although UN DESA is undeniably doing a great job trying to keep all pieces together for civil society, the lack of consistency in information, short deadlines, and limited seats for stakeholders regarding access to official meeting venues and speaking roles, often prevented people from being included in the conversation.
Nonetheless, moving around the restricted space for participation in official meetings, civil society, UN Agencies, and some Member States did a great job with the creation of alternative spaces for dialogue. Multistakeholder side events brought plenty of content discussion and also concrete best practices on mechanisms for engaging the different groups in societies for the Voluntary National Review to the HLPF, but also for moving forward in the continuing implementation and monitoring of the SDGs through ways that allow for meaningful contribution from all stakeholders. We hope these discussions inspired Member States to push for more participatory modalities in future HLPFs and to implement more inclusive and cooperative mechanisms on the SDGs at national levels.
Acknowledging that the solutions for the Agenda 2030 will not come from one sector alone, governments must see civic engagement as an opportunity to advance the SDGs, particularly to reach the most vulnerable populations. As a consequence of lifting people from poverty, investing in gender equality and leveraging the different experiences in society, countries will finally be in a good track to achieve economic progress and fairer societies – one where we can all contribute with the best of our abilities and equality benefit from the available resources.
NGO Major Group Position Paper: Eradicating poverty and promoting prosperity in a changing world