Source: Small Island Developing States
Four hundred and sixty civil society organizations from 115 countries sent a joint letter to UN Member States regarding the need for meaningful civil society participation in the July 2020 session of the UN High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF). With the 2020 HLPF expected to take place in a virtual format, the letter calls for “inclusive virtual modalities” to support effective stakeholder involvement.
The letter explains that “HLPF processes derive strength from the engagement of diverse actors,” and civil society participation is key to implementing the SDGs. It recalls that in April 2020, UN Secretary-General António Guterres underlined the importance of promoting and protecting civic space in response to COVID-19.
Regarding the voluntary national review (VNR), the signatories call on UN Member States and UN agencies to:
- Allow for at least three responses from Major Groups and Other Stakeholders as part of each VNR presentation;
- Publish all “shadow” VNR reports from civil society on the UN’s official HLPF website; and
- Ensure that written questions are answered within a month of the HLPF, if time does not allow during the VNR session.
The 2020 HLPF is expected to include VNR presentations from 47 national governments.
Other recommendations include listing civil society-led side events in the UN’s official programme of side events, and prioritizing voices from national civil society groups for inclusion in the HLPF. The signatories also note that an enabling environment to support diverse stakeholder involvement must account for digital divides.
Also in preparation for the 2020 HLPF, the executive summaries of contributions from 15 stakeholder groups have been compiled and released in advance unedited form on the HLPF website. They have been submitted from: women; children and youth; NGOs; local authorities; workers and trade unions; education and academia; business and industry; persons with disabilities; volunteers; the stakeholder group on ageing; Asia-Pacific regional civil society organizations; Together 2030; LGBTI; the Sendai Group on disaster risk reduction; and the scientific and technological community.