Civil Society Brings Input on Development System Reform
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A UN Non-Governmental Liaison Service summary of a public consultation includes inputs from 80 civil society representatives from 42 countries.

Inputs address eight areas: ensuring system-wide accountability to results; participation and partnerships; financing and funding; interlinkages with the human rights agenda; capacity building; data; communications; and policy coherence.

24 January 2018: The UN Non-Governmental Liaison Service (UN-NGLS) released a summary of civil society’s views on the repositioning of the UN development system. The views were gathered through a public consultation conducted in late 2017 at the request of the Executive Office of the UN Secretary-General.

The document summarizes inputs from 80 civil society representatives from 42 countries around eight areas: ensuring system-wide accountability to results; participation and partnerships; financing and funding; interlinkages with the human rights agenda; capacity building; data; communications; and policy coherence.

On ensuring system-wide accountability to results, civil society suggests that each UN Country Team (UNCT) develop and maintain a symbiotic relationship with non-state actors. UNCTs should: champion collaborative planning; convene regular, transparent, and inclusive dialogues with civil society; and support the participation of the furthest behind and disenfranchised. The summary notes that the creation of regular channels for consultation and communication with civil society at the national and sub-national level should be part of the UNCT work plans and resources.

The text says that Resident Coordinators (RCs) could be tasked with routinely surveying national sustainable development and UN support, identifying gaps and inconsistencies, and then initiate dialogues with all stakeholders on strategies to redress these. Data and analysis produced by civil society and other stakeholders should be reflected in the national reporting. Civil society also suggests that the reported information could feed into a global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)-based data storage system under the auspices of an internationally representative data team.

On participation and partnerships, the summary recommends a central oversight function, possibly within the UN Secretariat, to be established to monitor all partnerships with non-State actors. On financing and funding, civil society notes that the pooling of resources in response to national priorities is an important next step to eliminate unnecessary competition in resource mobilization. It recommends that an assessment of financing for gender equality be extended to Official Development Assistance (ODA), macroeconomic policy and resource mobilization.

On interlinkages with the human rights agenda, the summary highlights that all structures including Regional Commissions and each UNCT should prioritize human rights and look to human rights experts or UN agencies with human rights expertise when developing policy. Civil society further recommends the formation of a UN system-wide task force to provide policy guidance, including at the country level, toward efforts to enhance the implementation and integration of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, in order to ensure the achieving of the SDGs for persons with disabilities. To ensure progress on gender equality and mainstream women empowerment, a “feminist accountability framework” for the SDGs is proposed, aimed at linking the SDGs to key conventions such as the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) and the Beijing Declaration.

On capacity building, the text underscores a need for workshops and webinars to build the skills of civil society organizations and other stakeholders to access relevant UN information platforms and engage with formal government reporting. On data, the summary notes that, as part of the country level engagement, the UN should support citizen-generated data to supplement and strengthen the official reporting process.

On communications, civil society underscores that the RCs should be tasked with being “aggressive marketers” of the SDGs to ensure that the Goals become common parlance. The text also mentions that UNCTs should strengthen their information channels to disseminate up-to-speed information to non-state actors, in order for them to better understand how to effectively contribute to the SDGs.

The public consultation led by UN-NGLS took place from October to December 2017. [Summary of Input] [SDG Knowledge Hub coverage of UN reform process]

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