Civil Society Sets Action Agenda to 2015
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The 65th Annual UN Conference for NGOs convened on the theme '2015 and Beyond: Our Action Agenda,' and concluded with a declaration intended to serve as an action agenda for the coming year.

The Conference focused on poverty eradication, sustainability, climate justice, human rights, and partnerships and accountability frameworks, with an emphasis on enabling civil society networks and activists to mobilize messaging, advocacy strategies, partnerships and accountability frameworks in the lead-up to intergovernmental negotiations on the post-2015 development agenda.

undpi-ngo29 August 2014: The 65th Annual UN Conference for NGOs convened on the theme ‘2015 and Beyond: Our Action Agenda,’ and concluded with a declaration intended to serve as an action agenda for the coming year. The Conference focused on poverty eradication, sustainability, climate justice, human rights, and partnerships and accountability frameworks, with an emphasis on enabling civil society networks and activists to mobilize messaging, advocacy strategies, partnerships and accountability frameworks in the lead-up to intergovernmental negotiations on the post-2015 development agenda.

An estimated 4,000 civil society representatives, from 100 NGOs, and 120 national delegates participated in the Conference, seeking to bring their input to the discussions on the post-2015 development agenda.

The conference took place on 27-29 August 2014, at UN Headquarters, in New York, US, and was organized by the UN Department of Public Information (UN DPI) and the Executive Committee of NGOs associated with DPI (NGO DPI). The conference was co-chaired by Jeffery Huffines, CIVICUS, and Jeffrey Brez, Chief, NGO Relations, Advocacy and Special Events, Outreach Division, Department of Public Information.

“I depend on NGOs to push world leaders along the right path. You understand that sovereignty carries responsibility. You know that political power is a sacred duty. And you have grassroots influence that can make history,” UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told the opening session in a video message. Jan Eliasson, UN Deputy Secretary-General, underlined that the work of civil society, often with limited resources and at personal and political risk, has been central to the promotion of peace, development and human rights. “You are out there in the field, building bridges of solidarity. You advocate and engage. You debate and defend. You push and then push some more. And the world is better for it,” he added.

The Action Agenda adopted at the Conference will enable NGOs and communities across the globe to “speak with a common voice and advocate for ambitious goals,” Eliasson told participants in the concluding session.

The 14-page Action Agenda contains three parts. First, the civil society “Vision” of the post-2015 development agenda calls on governments to take the strongest possible action to address climate change in line with the principles of equity and common but differentiated responsibilities (CBDR). The section indicates that human rights, including sexual rights, cannot be compromised, highlighting also that mental health and psychosocial well-being are cross-cutting. The Vision also calls for retaining the proposed Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) on Climate Change, Sustainable Cities & Human Settlements, Sustainable Consumption and Production, Oceans, and Ecosystems and Biodiversity as stand-alone goals.

The section on ‘Monitoring & Accountability’ calls for rigorous accountability systems rooted in human rights norms, standards and mechanisms, and for all actors to be held accountable, including high-income countries, international institutions, donors and corporations. The document calls on UN Member States to strengthen the mandate of the High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF) and establish a Bureau for it, noting that the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) must be given the responsibility to function as the secretariat for the HLPF. It further proposes a hybrid “AMR-UPR+” accountability mechanism similar to, but building upon, the successes of both the ECOSOC Annual Ministerial Review (AMR) and the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) process of the Human Rights Council.

The final section, ‘Recommendations around the SDGs,’ provides feedback on each of the proposed SDGs.

The Conference outcome also includes a Resource Document reflecting joint statements by UN Major Groups and stakeholders from civil society made during the Open Working Group on the SDGs. [UN Press Release, 27 August] [UN Press Release, 29 August] [UN Deputy Secretary-General Remarks] [65th Annual DPI/NGO Conference Outcome Document Declaration] [Conference Website]


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