Ms. Maria Francesca Spatolisano Assistant Secretary-General for Policy Coordination and Inter-Agency Affairs

Opening Session
Civil Society SDG Forum

Distinguished Moderators,
Executive Secretary of ECLAC, Mrs. Bárcena
Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am honored to join you all at this important Forum of Civil Society for SDGs!.

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development reflects the voices of millions of people from across the globe who informed Government leaders of their aspirations for the world we want.

I am sure that many of you were there among the major groups and other stakeholders who enthusiastically engaged in the intergovernmental processes to elaborate the Agenda and its 17 integrated Sustainable Development Goals.

As a result, today, we are celebrating this universal Agenda which is truly “of the people, by the people and for the people”.

Today’s Summit is your summit. It is befitting that your representatives are speaking in the Leaders Dialogues along with Member States and the UN system.

I have a few points to make and all revolve around what we can and should do together.

Earlier this afternoon, Member States adopted a declaration by consensus. It commits world leaders to a decade of action and delivery for the SDGs. It also commits them to come together in durable partnerships with all relevant stakeholders, including civil society, the private sector, academia and youth.

It is clear that the SDGs will only be reached with the participation of all countries, all stakeholders and all people.

Ladies and Gentlemen,
The success of our collective journey to 2030 will greatly depend on how effectively Governments—who, let’s not forget, spearhead the implementation of this transformative Agenda—can engage: Parliaments, local authorities, indigenous peoples, civil society, the scientific and academic community and the private sector in its follow-up. It requires bridging the gaps between people and national policy-setting.

In many countries – including in some who have presented their Voluntary National Reviews at the High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development – we are seeing how effective public participation can lead to better laws, policies and transparency in Government. All of these factors help to foster accountability and inclusion.

For example, target 16.7 of the SDGs is about ensuring responsive, inclusive, participatory and representative decision-making at all levels. You have a critical role in advocating and promoting this transformation at the national and international level.

Of course, we need an enabling environment for participation. This is clearly expressed in SDGs 16 and 17—the goals on peace, justice, strong institutions and on partnerships for the SDGs.

Responsible leadership, legal frameworks that adhere to human rights standards, and greater investment in transparent and accountable institutions are critical to make this happen.

Civil society should be given the space, the tools, the resources and the capacity development it needs to steer the implementation and follow up of the 2030 Agenda, at all levels.

Success is also measured in how well we manage to engage the most marginalized, vulnerable and excluded communities and individuals.

In all this, ladies and gentlemen, you can make the difference. This is why I am so pleased to see you all gathered here today.

At a time when multilateralism is often under attack, you are demonstrating its very dynamism. Indeed, multilateralism is also about bringing actors from all countries and walks of life around the table to find common solutions to our shared challenges.

This kind of multi-stakeholder multilateralism is the only way to navigate the complex challenges we are facing today – from the ambitious SDGs to frontier technologies. It unleashes multiple ideas. It creates an understanding of the realities at the local and country level. It galvanizes efforts from all sides and produces solutions that enjoy society-wide consensus.

This is why the United Nations now increasingly works through platforms that embrace civil society and other actors. A chief example is the High-level Political Forum which is, today meeting as a summit. Other powerful examples are the ECOSOC multi-stakeholder forum on science, technology and innovation, and the Internet Governance Forum.

More than ever, the United Nations is your home, and we need you here to achieve the SDGs.

Dear participants,

On behalf on the Secretary-General, I urge you all to engage in the coming Decade of Action and Delivery for achieving the 2030 Agenda. Our collective ambition to deliver on the SDGs is critical for our common future.

DESA as always, stands ready to facilitate your engagement in the United Nations.

Thank you very much.

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