Providing a platform for civil society
As the world transitions from the eight Millennium Development Goals to the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), it has become apparent that civil society and non-governmental organizations are absolutely vital in making sure that the new 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is realized for all of the world’s people.
In the post-2015 era there is increasing reliance on the diverse stakeholders who comprise civil society to contribute to, monitor, review and ensure transparency and accountability for the implementation of the 2030 Agenda.
Today, the United Nations, through the NGO Branch of the Office for ECOSOC Support and Coordination, in UN DESA, promotes the inclusion and contribution of nearly 4,200 non-governmental organizations in consultative status with the Economic and Social Council, and the many other organizations active in the development field.
Increasingly, NGOs in consultative status are taking advantage of a variety of opportunities to have their voices heard in the United Nations, be it high level meetings, consultations, thematic debates, or briefings. The Open Working Group on the SDGs was the most inclusive process in the history of the United Nations: a systematic process to solicit substantive contributions from all stakeholders to shape and fine tune the 2030 Agenda that culminated in incorporating a multitude of views.
Another recent and noteworthy event was the consultation that the Second Committee organized with NGOs in consultative status with ECOSOC in October 2015 for the first time in its 70-year history. This was a concerted effort to enable NGOs to offer concrete suggestions on ways to rationalize the agendas of the Second and Third Committee of the General Assembly and of ECOSOC, and to better reflect the priorities of the SDGs. The success of the event prompted the Chairman to declare that this event had set a precedent for other Committees to engage in similar manner with non-governmental organizations.
In addition to supporting the work of the ECOSOC Committee on NGOs, the NGO Branch facilitates the active engagement of civil society in the myriad of formal and informal activities of the UN System and continues to look for innovative ways to enhance further the substantive participation and contribution of civil society to the work of ECOSOC, specifically and the United Nations, in general.
The Committee on NGOs has now also kicked off its regular session. Running through 3 February, this session is expected to consider 275 new NGO applications for ECOSOC status. It will also review the quadrennial reports of NGOs in general or special consultative status.
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