Volunteer Groups ask the UN to support effective engagement of all stakeholders in SDG progress review

At the 2015 meeting of the High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF), Volunteer Groups asked to be fully engaged as key HLPF partners and suggested ways to enable effective stakeholder engagement.  These requests are part of a Position Paper that Volunteer Groups submitted to the HLPF, along with a letter from the Chair of the International Forum for Volunteering in Development (Forum), the Chair of the Post-2015 Volunteering Working Group and the World President of the International Association for Volunteer Effort (IAVE).

The Forum has met on 26 June-8 July in New York to debate on "Strengthening integration, implementation and review - the HLPF after 2015".

HLPF2015 w250Civil society briefing, 30 June 2015

Mr Adjmal Dulloo, FORUM and post-2015 Volunteering Working Group coordinator, spoke on behalf of Volunteer Groups (see picture on the right). He presented five key recommendations to the HLPF to support effective engagement of all stakeholders in the sustainable development era. In particular, one of these is about creating a "dedicated, permanent and independent Secretariat" for the HLPF, to support the delivery of global review and follow up of the post-2015 agenda. This Secretariat should have sufficient resources to increase HLPF effectiveness, including "to facilitate the broad engagement of civil society and other stakeholders and to manage an agenda of thematic and institutional assessment". Mr Dulloo's full speech

Just before Mr Dulloo, Ambassador Pio Wennubst, Assistant Director General at the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, had stated that "stakeholders should be given adequate space to participate in the [annual HLPF] reviews", and that "the Global review needs to trigger reactions at country level". Switzerland, he said, sees citizens and stakeholders as having a key role in building capacity and ownership for national reviews, including through citizens-generated data. His conclusive remarks pointed at leveraging the HLPF design for extended stakeholder participation: "The unique HLPF modality resolution has the potential to modernize the way the UN works. Let's make sure that we use that potential."

Video of civil society briefing, 30 June 2015 - Mr Dulloo's statement at 57'18'' - Swiss Delegate at 55'10''

HLPF session on Realizing the SDGs: Matching ambitions with commensurate means of implementation − resources, technology and capacities, 8 July 2015

Ms Megan Haddock, International Research Projects Manager at the Center for Civil Society Studies of The Johns Hopkins University and Member of the Post-2015 Volunteering Working Group, gave a presentation on behalf of Volunteer Groups.

Using the experience of the development of official standards for the measurement of volunteering and civil society, she emphasized that civil society and volunteer groups "must be engaged as partners in the planning, capacity building, and use of technologies and resources with government – not just in the implementation after the fact – so that the outcomes are more effective, more efficient, more transparent, more accountable, and more useful to the people and communities they seek to serve."

Recommending four areas of actions to enable these partnerships, Ms Haddock encouraged Member States and the HLPF to recognize the potential of actively engaged citizens to leverage the resources, technologies, and capacities of government actors to match the ambitions to localize the Post-2015 agenda and ensure that no one is left behind.

About the HLPF and its modalities

The HLPF is the intergovernmental body providing political leadership, guidance and recommendations on sustainable development. It follows up and reviews the implementation of sustainable development commitments and, as of 2016, the post-2015 development agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The Forum replaced the Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD).

Along with Major Groups and other stakeholders, Volunteer Groups have been granted comprehensive participatory opportunities in the HLPF through UN General Assembly Modalities Resolution A/RES/67/290.

This Resolution explicitly names and encourages different stakeholders, including Volunteer Groups, "...to autonomously establish and maintain effective coordination mechanisms for participation in the high-level political forum and for actions derived from that participation at the global, regional and national levels," and decides that representatives of relevant stakeholders shall be allowed to "submit documents and present written and oral contributions."

Such recognition enhances the role of civil society, including Volunteer Groups, to systematically engage with their Government in reporting on SDG progress.