We, civil society representatives convened by CIVICUS, GCAP and Beyond 2015 at the 2012 CIVICUS World Assembly, met September 4th-7th 2012 to begin discussions on the World We Want beyond 2015.
As civil society gathered here today, we affirm that we will work united and collaborate to ensure a legitimate and inclusive development framework is in place to succeed the current MDGs, that delivers lasting change in the world. We affirm that this framework must work to genuinely integrate ending poverty, ensuring environmental sustainability and promoting human rights. The framework must fully reflect the priorities and perspectives of people directly affected by poverty and inequality, the majority of whom are socially excluded populations, particularly women, children, youth and indigenous peoples. The framework should also challenge the structures, institutions and processes that perpetuate poverty.
We highly appreciate offers and commitments already made by various actors and institutions to directly engage and consult with civil society. However, we also have serious concerns about the current state of the parameters for civil society participation and engagement in the post-2015 process. In order to address our concerns, we have developed the following essential criteria to ensure meaningful civil society engagement:
- Civil society must be treated at parity with other stakeholders, for example the private sector.
- Before engaging in consultations and providing input to any of the processes, civil society must have a commitment that all inputs will be fully considered, this includes:
- clarity on when review of CSO input is taking place
- ensure that a response will be formulated which outlines how this input is being taken forward
- civil society representatives are present in discussions to support their case.
- Regular interaction between decision makers and civil society representatives to ensure a 2-way communication and that the process is respected as agreed.
- Consultations with civil society should take the form of face-to-face meetings with relevant decision-makers, permanently established advisory panels in addition to written input. We affirm the need to build upon and strengthen already established rules and mechanisms for civil society engagement with the UN, when developing mechanisms for civil society engagement in post 2015.
- All relevant information needs to be easily and openly accessible in a timely manner to civil society.
- A fully funded Civil Society platform must be in place by the end of 2012 at the latest and be supported by a relevant UN entity, for example a well resourced and strengthened UN Non-Governmental Liaison Service (UN-NGLS), and must be directly linked to the UN General Assembly President’s office.
Civil society will not engage fully until these commitments and sufficient resources are confirmed.
To the UN Member States we recommend
– The intergovernmental Open Working Group on SDGs must have a clear, efficient, inclusive and transparent mechanism to engage proactively with civil society. This must be clearly outlined within their Terms of Reference.
To the UN Secretariat we recommend
– The UN High-level Panel of eminent persons must contain increased representation from civil society, representing civil society constituency. The High-level Panel needs to clarify immediately how they will engage with civil society as a major stakeholder, as outlined in their Terms of Reference.
To the UNDG we recommend
– The UNDG consultation processes currently under way (50+ national consultations, 9+ thematic consultations, global conversation) must live up to commitments already made, for example in the guidance notes to Regional Coordinators and TORs for thematic consultations to meaningfully include and resource civil society to engage at all levels and all stages.
We appreciate efforts by UN civil society focal points and other allies to work with us to ensure a fair, inclusive and legitimate process is in place and we look forward to a response outlining how our conditions will be met.
Signed by CIVICUS, GCAP and Beyond 2015 (with more signatures to come)