HLPF: Health in the 2030 Agenda (5)

Major Groups and other Stakeholders position papers: civil society organization engagement with HLPF process

Major Groups and other Stakeholders (MGoS) speak out in their position papers on issues related to civil society organization engagement with HLPF process. Their concerns include, for example, restrictions on civil society organizations activities and funding; the need for spaces for their participation; and collaboration between Member States and civil society organizations. While the development of the SDGs and 2030 Agenda increased possibilities for civil society involvement, these opportunities are now shrinking rather than expanding further.

Education and Academia Stakeholder Group (EASG) points to the closing of doors to civil society since the UN Inter-governmental negotiations (IGN), including restrictions on protest and funding. In addition, although governments agreed to work with civil society on planning and implementation of SDG 4 Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all at the international level, civil society frequently does not have adequate space to engage in planning, monitoring and evaluation processes nationally. Furthermore, the available, yet limited opportunities are often acquired by international organisations and large-scale NGOs.

Major Group for Children and Youth (CYMG) calls for the formal engagement of MGoS in all stages and levels of sustainable development policy to achieve rights-based participation modalities that ensure spaces for critical segments of society.   In the context of national sustainable development, councils or structures are critical to the effective and coherent implementation of sustainable development policies, which should integrate rights based modalities through the participation of MGoS in all their deliberations.

Asia Pacific Regional CSO Engagement Mechanism (APRCEM) also notes that spaces have been shrinking for civil society all over the globe during the past few years including in the Asia-Pacific region. The continuing spaces for people’s participation includes, for example, scrapping the bottom up approach. Many Governments, moreover, see a free and vibrant civil society as a threat that put ‘in place restrictions on their funding, taxing, membership, registration, and thus, their functioning’. They therefore urge governments to fulfil their obligations to defend and promote human rights, and enable an environment conducive to democracy and open society and protect the rights of vulnerable communities.

Together 2030 recognizes that participation by stakeholders is both a means and an end in the context of Agenda 2030 and that governments should report on how they are creating clear, open, coherent, transparent and regular spaces for the participation if stakeholders in the planning, implementation and accountability of the 2030 Agenda at all levels. In referring para 89 of the 2030 Agenda, Together 2030 points out that UN Member States and the President of ECOSOC should establish clear and meaningful mechanisms – beyond online platforms – to collect, publicize and analyse reports on the contribution of civil society and stakeholders to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda at all levels. It also stresses that funding continues to be a major barrier for the participation of civil society together with lack of capacity to understand the Goals and their interlinkages and make suggestions for increasing civil society engagement at all levels. The HLPF ministerial declaration, moreover, should encourage governments to invite civil society and stakeholders to partner with them in developing capacity building and awareness programmes for the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs.

Women’s Major Group (WMG) highlights the need for Member States and civil society to work closely together to maintain and enhance the space, building strength from diversity. It notes that women’s rights organizations, feminists’ groups and social movements and allies are leading the way in addressing many of the SDGs, through advocacy and activism; project development and implementation; data collection, research, and analysis; and monitoring, evaluation and reporting at local and national levels. Women’s groups, including grassroots groups can train and build capacity on topics such as healthy lifestyles across the life course and comprehensive sexuality education.

Local Authorities Major Group (LAMG) refers to the Joint Position paper with civil society on a Multistakeholder Approach for the implementation of the SDGs, noting that the UN should engage with these actors in the organization of capacity-building activities and workshops.

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