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Background information on Major Groups participation in the CSD


Since its creation in 1992, the CSD has provided generous access to major groups, and is at the forefront of experimentation in this domain. The first multi-stakeholder dialogue segment was introduced in 1998, as a unique participatory mechanism enabling direct interaction between major groups and Governments on specific topics. The 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) succeeded in integrating major groups even further into the intergovernmental process. The post-WSSD era has also been characterised by a growing intra-major groups collaboration that led to some tangible partnerships and new forms of cooperation.

With the increasing recognition of the essential role played by major groups as key partners in the WSSD follow-up, new formats for major groups participation in CSD continue to be developed, aimed at stimulating more productive dialogue and inspiring collaborative efforts among Governments, major groups and the UN system, building on lessons learned from past traditions and practices.

Intergrated participation (2003-present)

Currently the post-WSSD phase builds on the multi-stakeholder dialogues experience and provides innovative formats for interactive participation. Major groups are now integrated in the various activities planned throughout the official CSD sessions, including thematic discussions, expert panels, interactive discussions within the Ministers during the High-level Segment. Major groups contribute their expertise to technical discussions on thematic issue areas and offer solutions for furthering implementation of sustainable development and take part in partnerships to implement them. As part of the preparatory work leading up to the CSD meetings, the CSD Secretariat collaborates closely with key major groups' networks from a coordinating group of organizing partners made of credible networks who are invited by the Bureau to facilitate the engagement of their major group sector.

Multi-stakeholder dialogues (1997-2002)

At the Earth Summit+5, the UN General Assembly deliberated that the CSD should conduct "a high-level policy debate aimed at consensus-building on sustainable development". As an integral part of that effort, it was agreed that the CSD should "strengthen its interaction with representatives of major groups, including through greater and better use of focused dialogue sessions, and round tables."

The Program of Work for CSD-6 through the WSSD (1998-2002) translated the above decision decision by pioneering multi-stakeholder engagement through multi-stakeholder dialogues, which have informed the deliberations of the Commission on different topics since 1998.

Multi-stakeholder dialogues helped to promote meaningful participation among major groups and Governments in the intergovernmental decision-making process. The dialogues emerged as a significant component of the official meetings, and grew to become accepted as part of the process, rather than as an ancillary event taking place on the margins of negotiations. 

The preparation for the dialogues was itself a multi-stakeholder process, involving a steering group of organizing partners from each major group.

The content of the dialogue was determined in consultation with the CSD Bureau and the organizing partners facilitated by the CSD secretariat. The organizing partners engaged in consultations with their major group to draft a 'dialogue starter paper' (a position paper) and determine who would speak for the group during the dialogue. The dialogue papers were released as part of the official documentation in languages without editing the content.

The Chair's Summary of the multi-stakeholder dialogue segments reflected the areas of discussion covered during the dialogues and highlighted recommendations made by the major groups. Chair's summaries were included in the official report of each meeting, and can be accessed using the links on the right side of this page.

The WSSD succeeded in integrating major groups fully into the intergovernmental process, continuing the tradition of the multi-stakeholder dialogue and going further to establish the presence of major groups in high-level roundtables, expert panels, and partnerships for sustainable development. 

See the analysis of the CSD experience with multi-stakeholder dialogues.