Development: Consultation with Civil Society Organizations


First informal consultation with NGOs for the UN Second Committee on Development 

A truly historic event happened in New York on October 22 at the United Nations Headquarters. For the first time, the Chairperson of the Second Committee Mr. Andrej Logar, Permanent Representative of Slovenia decided to host an informal consultation with civil society, addressing key questions in re-shaping the Second committee of the General Assembly. This UN committee, devoted to development issues, would need to review its agenda and improve its working methods to meet the needs of the new agenda for sustainable development adopted by the world leaders last September in New York.

Among other relevant stakeholders, the role of civil society has been recognized as crucial in identifying the methodology and strategy to achieve these ambitious goals. This innovative step in the Second Committee represents a unique opportunity for civil society to share its distinctive perspective and concrete inputs to Member States’ deliberations on the Committee’s agenda and working methods in order to better respond to the challenges of implementing the Agenda 2030.

The event addressed the following two questions and two panels have been organized in order to elaborate on concrete suggestions and food for thought in this process.

  1. How can the Second Committee ensure that its work is in line with the objectives of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development?
  2. How should the agenda of the Second Committee look like in the coming years?

Under the leadership of Ms. Barbara Adams, Global Policy Forum, who moderated the discussion, the first panel presented contributions from Dr. Louise Kantrow, International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), Mr. Jeffery Huffines, CIVICUS, Ms. Jean Krasno, Academic Council on the United Nations System, Ms. Eleanor Blomstrom, Women’s Environment and Development Organization (WEDO) and Ms. Naiara Costa, World Vision International followed by a question and answer session.

Protesters in Madrid

Among the points raised by the panelists, some concrete suggestions to be further considered by the Member States are following:

  •   Securing inclusiveness and consistency, nobody should be left behind. Moving the conversation behind New York, ensure that everybody is included, especially the grass root and local experiences.
  •   Be open-minded; do not address the agenda with a predetermined mindset.
  •   Setting up a mapping exercise in relation to the 17 goals. Many multinational businesses are already undertaking a mapping of their work, to see how that can include de 2030 agenda for sustainable development.
  •   Rationalizing the agenda of the ECOSOC strengthening the secretariat, avoiding working in isolation.
  •   Creating a Steering committee to follow up on the SGD chaired by the chair of the ECOSOC and representatives from the 5 regional committees, and establishing a trust fund for capacity building purposes.
  •   Devoting attention to gender equality and gender balance, securing equal opportunities for girls and women. Gender equality is not just about development it is a human right.
  •   Creating a broad worldwide movement of women mentoring women, to achieve a cascade of mentoring to success, empowering women at all ages.
  •   Encouraging the UN to lead by example and have a woman as next Secretary General.
  •   Integrating the 3 dimensions of sustainable development in the agenda of the Second committee and avoid overlapping.
  •   Staying engaged, supporting the change and address systemic issues and inequality, prepare further systemic changes and prevent step back.
  •   Including civil Society in the negotiation and be coherent with that decision in all the fora and discussion.

The second panel addressed the question about the Agenda of the committee for the coming years, how it should look like. Among the contributors: Mr. Joseph Donnelly, Caritas Internationalis, Mr. Daniel Dudis, Transparency International, Dr. Frank Goldsmith, World Federation of Trade Unions, Mr. Abid Aslam, ActionAid, Ms. Bhumika Muchhala, Third World Network.

Vibrant  discussion providing interesting insights such as:

  •   Avoid duplication but encourage repetition. Some key messages needs to be reiterated and not neglected.
  •   Be brave and vocal. Encourage the NGOs to shock the member states, change the status quo. The SDGs are a wakeup call for action.
  •   Appreciate the Interconnection of the SDGs: they are not in isolations. There is the need to work on all of them, every day.
  •   Recognize the call on poverty. The discussion around poverty is not just about economy it is also about sustainability. We should fight a globalization of indifference.
  •   Foster participation, not partnership alone as symbolic concept, bringing the voices from around the world.
  •   Support the anti corruption movement, appreciating the vicious power of corruption in undermining the development agenda. Countries with higher level of public sector corruption have also higher poverty rate, fewer children ending primary schools, fewer girls entering school, higher rate of child mortality related to poor maternal health, higher mortality among women and few access to safe water for drinking and hygiene purposes.
  •   Go beyond the traditional model of North South cooperation, promoting South-South cooperation, new paradigms are needed.
  •   Advocate for transparency and accountability, increased resources and blended finance to create new financing and cooperation modalities.
  •   Create mechanism of efficient tax cooperation, critical financing, international financial system and development.

Under the leadership of the chair of the Second committee, Ambassador Logar, this promising event is likely to be repeated and to constitute a best practice other Chairs might want to replicate. As an important signal of civil society inclusion, a summary of proceedings will be made available to Member States in advance of the draft United Nations General Assembly resolutions to be tabled later in October, for negotiation in November and December.

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Focus on some of the sustainable development goals adopted by UN member states on 25 September, 2015.