Statement by Jeffery Huffines, CIVICUS, NGO Major Group Organizing Partner on behalf of Major Groups and other Organizations

Statement by Jeffery Huffines, CIVICUS, NGO Major Group Organizing Partner on behalf of Major Groups and other Organizations

HLPF Informal Informals, 14 May 2013

Thank you very much for the opportunity to speak to OP 16 on Major Groups and other stakeholders that includes “enhanced consultative role and participation of the Major Groups”. I would also add that we fully support OP 24 that requests the SG “to carry over all the remaining funds from the CSD Trust Fund to a voluntary Trust Fund of the Forum” and would ask the Member States to not eliminate it as a cost cutting measure.

Last month members of the Major Groups and NGOs active in the post-2015 development agenda met to discuss issues of common concern where they all agreed that it is only through strong means of implementation which includes financing for sd, together with a robust institutional framework, will ensure the successful achievement of the future SDGs and the post-2015 development agenda.

In this regard the Major Groups and other stakeholders call for the establishment of a dedicated high level institution with universal membership, complete with a secretariat and reporting to the UNGA and ECOSOC, to replace the CSD. Recognizing the “hlpf” is just a placeholder name, such an institution could be called the UN Sustainable Development Committee.

The Children and Youth Major Group strongly affirms that the following factors must lie at the core of any HLPF proposal:

•    Action, Implementation and Accountability through the adoption of a hybrid “AMR-UPR+” mechanism and synergy with the SDGs Framework.
•    Ensuring long-term decision making by establishing a High-Level Representative for Future Generations as part of the HLPF.
•    Establishment of a Council on SD under the UNGA, with the authority to adopt binding decisions and with universal membership.

All Member States have agreed time and again that the active participation of all groups of civil society is essential if the goals of sustainable development are to be realized. We take note of Member States agreement during the course of the Rio+20 negotiations, in particular paragraph 43 of the Rio Outcome Document , that the inclusion of Major Groups, civil society organizations, and relevant stakeholders – including persons with disabilities -- is vitally important to effective sustainable development policy and implementation.

However within framework of this current draft resolution, we note that the participation of Major Groups and other stakeholders is ensured only in the preparatory meetings which should take place before the Senior Officials Meeting. Yet if the Senior Officials Meeting is eliminated, and Major Groups are not granted consultative and participation rights at the Ministerial or Heads of State levels commensurate with the practices of the CSD, where then would the Major Groups participate?

The Major Groups have high regard and respect for the UNEconomic and Social Council, ECOSOC, but are well aware of the restrictive nature of the ECOSOC rules of procedure, which in effect rules out all the participatory practices and modalities granted major groups through twenty years of CSD and by three consecutive Summits (UNCED 1992, WSSD 2002, Rio+20 - 2012).  As a consequence of this we ask for a new body to be established, that would include the participation Major Groups, civil society and other stakeholders as mandated by Agenda 21.
Deliberations among MGs/CSOs have also begun to consider the “enhanced consultative role and participation of Major Groups” by considering specific practices for stakeholder engagement in the HLPF process, which build on the Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD), as well as drawing on best practice elsewhere, such as the FAO’s Strategy for Partnerships with Civil Society Organizations and its Committee on World Food Security (CFS) and Human Rights Council peer review process.

Enhanced Principles of engagement for your consideration include:

1. The principle of non-regression should be respected and effective modalities or practices for participation from the CSD and elsewhere in the UN system must be granted and any new rules and practices must not regress with respect to either current formal and informal practices.
2. Financial support for participation should be upgraded and a trust fund or similar mechanisms should be developed to encourage and enable Major Groups and other civil society organizations, giving priority to the poorest and most marginalized people, to participate in any new post Rio, post 2015 mechanisms, including travel to participate in meetings, as well as capacity-building, outreach, review and evaluation. Obstacles to participation must be identified and addressed, such as marginalization and stigmatization of people living in poverty, lack of access to relevant and understandable information; and opportunity costs.
3. Major Groups and other stakeholders should be integrated in review and evaluation processes concerning the full implementation of sustainable development at all levels as these stakeholders are already engaged in such work around the world and their involvement will contribute to operationalizing review processes and bring grassroots knowledge and marginalized voices to the agenda.

The CSD practices that should be continued in the HLPF include:

•    To be accredited without constraints according to regular ECOSOC procedures or through a special accreditation fast track system as developed through CSD;
•    To have active access to all meetings, processes and bodies including during all stages of decision-shaping. This access should be at all levels, such as intersessional committees, bureaus, ministerial-level meetings, drafting and contact groups, Friends of the Chair, etc.;
•    To have timely access to all information and documents, including negotiating documents as negotiations proceed;
•    To have speaking rights in all meetings, with the same opportunities as governments to express views and opinions;
•    To be allowed to comment on the chairs’ text in the plenary in an orderly manner prior to negotiations taking place, as such respecting the intergovernmental nature of the meetings;
•    To submit documents including thematic background documents with equal status to those of Member States;
•    To contribute actively to developing UN background documents relevant to agenda themes and to the secretariat reports that would extract content from written contributions from stakeholders with equal status to those of Member States;
•    To prepare and set up with the UN secretariat and Bureau a dynamic two day multi-stakeholder processes with full participation of governments;
•    To organise and carry out with the cooperation of the UN secretariat side events and roundtables whose outcomes are duly reflected in reports written and in the final decisions taken;
•    To be given the opportunity to be fully involved in country preparations that are relevant to the themes in order to better be able to follow up decisions taken, within their respective constituencies at the national level;
•    To self-organise capacity building workshops in relation to intergovernmental meetings, thus preparing stakeholders with updated knowledge of the proceedings.

We thank the co-facilitators very much for this opportunity to address the delegates at these important negotiations of the hlpf, particularly as it relates to non-state actor participation. To conclude the Major Groups and participating CSOs look forward to sharing with Member States their written proposals as well as proposed text for OP 16 by Major Groups Organizing Partners within the 10 day review period of this draft resolution.


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