UNGA Update - 9 November 2012
Member States mandated 12 intergovernmental processes to implement Rio+20 outcomes to be established this fall by the 67th session of the UN General Assembly where NGOs and Major Groups have no official means to interact with Member States. As a first priority, the President of the General Assembly asked Brazil to coordinate the establishment of a 30 member Open Working Group for Sustainable Development (OWG) by September as required by the Rio+20 outcome document. Despite repeated attempts to do so, as of this date the UN 5 Regional Groups under the guidance of Brazil have been unable to come to agreement upon the number of seats each group will have on the OWG. Consequently, a "Committee of the Whole" comprised of all Member States managed by a bureau is now being considered. All other intergovernmental bodies mandated by Rio+20 have been put on hold until the establishment of the OWG.
Seeking to hold Member States accountable to their promise to "establish an inclusive and transparent intergovernmental process on sustainable development goals that is open to all stakeholders" (para 248), the Organizing Partners (OPs) of the Major Groups put forward a "Multi-stakeholder Advisory Group" (MAG) proposal originally drafted by Louise Kantrow (OP Business & Industry) and Farooq Ullah (Stakeholder Forum) that was edited, discussed and approved by all OPs and forwarded to the missions of Mexico, Brazil, Pakistan, Switzerland, Denmark, EU and Canada. The OPs formed a fact finding mission that met with Amb. George Talbot, Chair of UNGA Second Committee (Economic & Financial) responsible for Rio+20 outcomes, at the Mission of Guyana on 24 October. Amb. Talbot welcomed the Major Groups MAG proposal as an important step to help ensure an open and inclusive intergovernmental process. He informed us that he expected the General Assembly to conclude its work at the end of November as scheduled which would be devoted to putting these various intergovernmental processes into place so that substantive negotiations could begin after the New Year.
Egypt is the focal point for the Rio+20 omnibus resolution that addresses the establishment of the high-level political forum (HLPF) to convene for the first time at the beginning of the GA 68th session; 30 member OWG to present a report early in the GA 68th session; 30 member experts working group on sustainable development financing strategy to prepare a report for GA in 2014; OWG on options for a facilitation mechanism for technology transfer to report before the end of GA 67th session; strengthening UNEP; adoption of the 10-year framework of programmes on sustainable consumption and production patterns by the Rio+20 conference; the 20th and final session of the CSD during one week session in May 2013; welcomes convening of 3rd international conference of small island developing States in 2014.
What is singularly lacking in the draft omnibus resolution as well as in the UNEP resolution so far is any specific mention of the role of Major Groups and civil society in the intergovernmental processes now being established beyond that of "stakeholders". Moreover, we have been told that Major Groups financing has been deleted from the SIDS resolution. This needs to be immediately addressed to ensure enhanced Major Groups/civil society engagement in the process leading up to the establishment of the HLPF and a strengthened UNEP.
We have heard that Sweden and Uruguay may be invited to convene an "open, transparent and inclusive" negotiation process to establish the HLPF. Chantal Line Carpentier, UN DESA Major Groups Coordinator, circulated to Major Groups OPs a "Non-Paper on options for the HLPF and their potential implications for Major Groups at the request of the Major Groups Organizer Partners" to assist Major Groups on developing their policy positions regarding the establishment of the HLFP and the enhanced Major Groups/Civil Society modality to be incorporated into this new body. Negotiations will conclude by May 2013 to give enough time to prepare for the first meeting of the HLPF in early September 2013.
This paper outlines three basic positions of Member States: (1) high-level forum that convenes 2-3 days bi-annually during the GA; (2) a more substantive body within a reformed ECOSOC; (3) a hybrid body that reports directly to the GA and ECOSOC and not subordinate to ECOSOC. As the paper outlines, Major Groups need to assess these options against their ability to (A) strengthen IFSD, (B) deliver on the functions agreed to in para 85, (C) enhance integration of the 3 dimensions of SD, and (D) enhance the role and participation of Major Groups and other relevant stakeholders. Those delegations wanting an HLFP that amounts to nothing
The final session of the CSD is scheduled to take place for one week in early May 2013. UN DESA is seeking to obtain funds to assist 9 Major Groups participation at the CSD. The CSD will make an assessment of its work, particularly as it relates to the integration of the three dimensions on sustainable development and the implementation of Agenda 21 and JPOI, and review lessons learned which would help in the establishment of the HLPF. Towards this end, Major Groups are invited to submit a Major Groups report for the CSD by the end of March 2013, that would include a proposal for enhanced Major Groups/Civil Society participation in the newly formed HLFP.
The Second Committee hosted side events on "Conceptualizing a set of sustainable development goals" on 16 October and "Sovereign debt crises and restructurings: lessons learnt and proposals for debt resolution mechanisms" on 25 October, among others. Several missions including Brazil, Mexico and Tanzania, openly questioned whether two sets of development goals for MDGs and SDGs should be considered post-2015. Significantly, Major Groups were invited to provide answers to the questions at the 16 October event.
To access the excellent presentations and power points on these issues, please visit the Second Committee web site at http://www.un.org/en/ga/second/67/sideevents.shtml.
NGO Major Groups Advocacy Strategy
The 9 Major Groups are at a moment of crisis and opportunity. We are in crisis given the fact that Major Groups have no official standing in the GA where all Rio+20 intergovernmental processes reside. Major Groups have no funding, official speaking rights or guaranteed access to Member States or draft resolutions of the GA. Consequently, Major Groups and Organizing Partners are receiving no funding from DESA for communications, capacity building or travel to New York to engage the GA. Much to our disappointment, Organizing Partners were recently informed by DESA that the funds earlier expected to support capacity building of Major Groups in the context of the CSD-20 Regional Implementation Meetings are no longer available. Then there are the multiple entry points of the post-2015 development agenda to also engage and coordinate.
However, Major Groups also have the opportunity to self-organize, and invite other stakeholders (including local communities, volunteer groups and foundations, migrants and families as well as older persons and persons with disabilities as identifed in para 43) to join them. The Major Groups Organizing Partners recognize the urgent need for the Major Groups to more effectively coordinate their responsibilities which include consulting with stakeholder networks, communication, outreach and advocacy, and liaison with UN DESA DSD. A transformed and enhanced Major Groups system with an autonomous secretariat will require Major Groups to take greater responsibility for their own fundraising managed outside of the UN system.
The NGO Organizing Partners would like to hear your ideas for the development of a Major Groups NGO advocacy strategy through the commencement of the CSD in May 2013. We need to designate focal points for the various Rio+20 outcomes based upon the NGO thematic clusters model, that will include clusters for SDGs and IFSD/HLFP advocacy. We need to designate regional and national focal points as needed to help coordinate advocacy interventions at the UN & specific national capitals. Towards this end, we invite interested NGO representatives to sign up for the "NGO MG Members for UNGA 2012" by looking it up through http://groups.google.com as it is through this google group that we will develop the specifics of our advocacy strategy going forward.
Now is the time to act!
Submitted by Jeffery Huffines on behalf of the NGO Organizing Partners