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The Importance of Strengthening Civil Society Participation to Fulfill the 2030 Agenda is Underscored

Representatives of citizens’ organizations held a gathering prior to the third meeting of the Forum of the Countries of Latin America and the Caribbean on Sustainable Development, which is taking place at ECLAC.
News |
23 April 2019
Alicia Bárcena, Secertaria Ejecutiva de la CEPAL, durante su presentación.

Representatives of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) from various countries in the region, government authorities and officials from international organizations agreed today on the importance of civil society participation in the processes that contribute to the adoption of decisions, planning, and application of policies and programs that foster sustainable development in the region.

At a civil society consultation prior to the third meeting of the Forum of the Countries of Latin America and the Caribbean on Sustainable Development, which is being held April 22-26 at ECLAC’s headquarters in Santiago, Chile, participants discussed the implementation, follow-up and regional review of the 2030 Agenda.

In her welcome remarks, Alicia Bárcena, Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), stressed that the global framework of the 2030 Agenda, applied at a national, regional and international level, calls for follow-up and review processes to be open, inclusive, participatory and transparent for all, and for them to support coordinated and comprehensive action between governments and all relevant stakeholders in society.

In this context, she said, it is clear that civil society has a critical role to play in the promotion of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and in the follow-up and review of the Agenda.

The most senior representative of the United Nations regional commission noted that civil society took a major step forward with the agreements reached around the Mechanism for civil society participation in the Sustainable Development Agenda and in the Forum, giving a clear indication of the commitment, maturity and great responsibility of the organizations that have been participating in the meetings of this multi-stakeholder gathering.

“Along with governments, we have the duty to create the conditions and collaborate so that civil society may develop and maintain effective modalities of organization, coordination, participation, dialogue and collaboration for the follow-up and review of progress on the Agenda’s implementation, at a national and regional level,” she affirmed.

She recalled that the theme of the High-level Political Forum 2019, which will be held in July at United Nations headquarters in New York under the auspices of the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), calls precisely for “empowering people and ensuring inclusiveness and equality.”

Alicia Bárcena also indicated that, in light of the weakening of multilateralism and the erosion of citizen trust in institutions, civil society has a critical role to play in changing the game.

“I am worried about what’s happening at a global level. There is a weakening of multilateralism and cooperation and there’s an erosion of citizen trust toward governments and institutions. We are living through a complex time of transition where civil society plays an absolutely indispensable role in changing the conversation,” she stated.

She added that “faced with setbacks on the rights agenda at a global level, we rely on civil society, because while governments change, the rights of citizens do not.”

In the framework of the civil society consultation, speakers included representatives of United Nations agencies such as María-Noel Baeza, Regional Director of UN Women; Esteban Caballero, Regional Director of the UN Population Fund (UNFPA); César Núñez, Regional Director of UNAIDS; and Piera Zuccherin, an expert from the United Nations Volunteers (UNV) program.

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