World Goodwill at the High Level Political Forum
The High Level Political Forum of Sustainable Development (HLFP) is the main UN platform on sustainable development, providing political leadership, guidance and recommendations. It addresses new and emerging challenges, and enhances the integration of economic, social and environmental dimensions of sustainable development.
The HLPF is meeting this year, under the auspices of the Economic and Social Council from 28 June to 8 July in New York. The major questions being addressed include:
“Where do we stand in formulating an ambitious and transformative post-2015 development agenda? How can we resolve outstanding issues?”
“How do we integrate the SDGs into planning and policy making at all levels, balancing economic, social and environmental dimensions? How can we best learn from one another in this regard?”
“How can the post-2015 development agenda be best communicated so as to inspire and engage all actors and harness creativity and innovation?”
“What must we do differently to mobilize and allocate resources so as to realize the SDGs? What does the shared vision to “leave no one behind” imply in terms of financing for the new development agenda?”
On Tuesday, 30 June, World Goodwill was in attendance at a side event to the HLPF that called for an informal exchange among civil society, member states, and UN staff to focus on the question, “How do we strengthen the engagement of civil society?”
It is becoming increasingly apparent that civil society organizations will have an essential role to play in achieving the sustainable development goals and, at this point, opportunities for more meaningful and inclusive engagement are being developed.
The UN’s Non-Governmental Liaison Service (NGLS) which, for the last 40 years, has served to fulfill its mandate in promoting and developing constructive relations between the UN and civil society by widely circulating information to civil society, is now staking out the opportunity to more formally facilitate civil society’s participation in UN processes and deliberations. A civil society mechanism or a CSM is being discussed as a way to institutionalize the bringing forth of certain voices to the table.
NGLS representatives spoke on behalf of “serving member states” by having more of an open platform that will insure a measure of inclusivity for all of civil society around the world, citing the most recent example of Mr. Xiuhtezeatl Roske Martinez, a 15 year old indigenous climate activist and Youth Director of Earth Guardians, who NGLS had invited to speak at the opening segment of the High-level event of the United Nations General Assembly on Climate Change (29 June 2015).
Civil society representatives noted that NGO’s tend to be “self-organized apart from the UN” and, in any future mechanism of engagement, it is important that they are “not dominated” by the UN process. The example was given of the NGO Working Group on Peace would like to have a group voice in any discussion, but thw Working Group is not recognized by the UN.
It became clear that civil society intended to self-regulate themselves toward freedom of expression while, at the same time, being willing to cooperate with NGLS.
“If we are to succeed, the new agenda must become part of the contract between people, including civil society (…). Empowered civil society actors, through action and advocacy, must rally to the cause, and contribute to a sustainable, equitable, and prosperous future.” The Road to Dignity by 2013, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon