Mozambican Workers, Peasants and NGOs Promoting Civil Society's Contribution
to Sustainable Development Agenda
New York, 20 August Mozambican peasants, workers, teachers, women,
environment and development have joined together to form a nation-wide network
to promote sustainable development at the national level and at the World
Summit on Sustainable Development that starts later this month in Johannesburg.
"It is the first time a large network of NGOs and popular movements from
all over Mozambique are participating in the preparations for an international
summit. It has never happened before," says Norberto Mahalambe of the NGO
ABIODES, which is the focal-point co-ordinator for the newly established
Mozambican civil society network.
According to Mahalambe, there are active groups in every province in the
country. "'At the moment, we daily receive a lot of information from the
provinces. It comes from all kinds of organisations because this is a common,
people-driven process. The Mozambican Worker's General Union has asked its
members to participate, and so has the Mozambican Peasant's National Union. We
are creating a broad movement with national coverage, which we hope will
continue to develop after the Summit in Johannesburg. This will create the
strength that civil society needs to put pressure on government on more issues
than is currently the case."
At first, he said, representatives from many groups were highly sceptical about
Summit. "They thought that a fancy Summit in Johannesburg was none of
their business, so why waste time and energy on it."
But despite some reservations, preparations began early in 2001 when LINK-NGO
Forum, an umbrella organisation for Mozambican and international civil society
organisations, invited its members to initiate an assessment of the state of
sustainable development in Mozambique for the occasion of the WSSD. The result
was a working group that continued to meet regularly and eventually agreed on
the principles and plans for the process.
From March to November 2001, the group worked to extend the process to
organisations representing the 'major groups' identified in the Agenda 21 and
to faith-based organisations in all ten Mozambican provinces. Major efforts
were made to join regional and international alliances, and consequently, Amade
Sucá from the Mozambique farmer union (UNAC) was elected to be part of
the regional core group for Southern Africa as well as the representative of
Southern Africa in the African NGO Steering Committee.
The increasing activity level - combined with access to financial support from
the Danish 92-Group - necessitated an administrative and organisational focal
point for the preparation process. This led to the creation of a co-ordination
group which in addition to ABIODES consists of the National Peasant's Union,
the Mozambican office of IUCN, CIFOA and the LINK-NGO Forum being the principal
umbrella-organisation of NGOs in Mozambique.
The national network has played a crucial role in the preparation process for
the Summit, Mahalambe said. "Each province identified a local organisation
to act as focal point, thereby forming a nation-wide civil society network
interested in discussing sustainable development. Each focal points had the
responsibility of making room for participation of all interested organisations
in an open and democratic manner.'
Through meetings organized by the network, Mozambique's civil society reached
general agreement on principles and plan of action for the preparation process.
Gathering representatives from all provinces and major groups, the network
helped crystallize approval of the "Maputo Declaration" that defines
the commitments of civil society in the preparation process and identifies the
ten main issues to be focused on in the promotion of sustainable development.
It has also worked for the legitimization of the coordination group and the
focal points as co-ordinators of the preparation process, and has approved a
plan of action for lobbying, advocacy plans, and for collecting the necessary
data to prepare a civil society assessment of the state of sustainable
In addition to the data collection, undertaken with scarce resources, the
network has also promoted an information campaign. Programmes and have appeared
on national radio and TV, and community radio stations have aired the
programmes as well. The daily national newspaper 'Noticias' has written about
the process, and so have various civil society newsletters. The national focal
point has launched a free of charge newsletter, Sustentando, ('sustaining' in
Portuguese), which can also be found on the Internet at
There have been cultural activities such as mini-marathons in different parts
of the country and in a nation-wide competition, children and teenagers were
asked to respectively draw and write their vision of sustainable development.
"The level of involvement has indeed been above our expectations,"
Mahalambe said, "and the overall picture is that all provinces have
participated in the process, although some more actively than others."
Visions for Johannesburg and beyond
Using the data gathered throughout the country, the network hired an
independent consultant to prepare a national civil society assessment on the
state of sustainable development in Mozambique.
"We took this draft back to the provinces where it was discussed by a
total of approximately 150 civil society representatives in three seminars to
cover the whole of Mozambique," Mahalambe said. Based on the collected
inputs, the report was revised and a new draft was released for the second
National Seminar, which took place on the 27-28 June, 2002. More than 80
delegates from all over the country discussed and revised the document that
eventually will evolve into the final version of the national report to be
presented at the Global Forum during the WSSD."
Although much has already been accomplished, Mahalambe says the process is
really only about to begin. The co-ordination group, he expects, will be
represented in Johannesburg by at least 60 delegates from different civil
"This will allow us to participate in different expressions, forums and
other activities, but we will also host a number of debates as part of the NGO
Global Forum program," Mahalambe said. And there is much to discuss.
"We want to discuss the subsidies to agricultural production in the North
that distort world market prices and African agricultural production. We need
to discuss how to initiate a local economic development that can serve as a
tool for combating poverty and halting the social-economic exclusion.
Furthermore, we must begin to demand clear policies, decentralised strategies
and donor assistance with skills and resources in order to prepare better for
the natural disasters that are endemic to Mozambique. And finally, looking
beyond the WSSD, the civil society network has already started to discuss the
content of a Plan of Action for post-WSSD activities in Mozambique."
By Thorkil Green Nielsen, Ibis information officer and Jan Nikolai Kristensen,
adviser to LINK-NGO Forum, Maputo, Mozambique - placed by the Danish NGO Ibis
Further information about the work in national networks in 25 countries in
Africa, Latin America and Asia can be found on the website
www.rio10.dk, which is
decentralised updated by the national focal points. Further information can
also be obtained from Hans Peter Dejgaard (email@example.com)
Copyright © United
Department of Economic and
Comments and suggestions
24 August 2006