Civil Society Dialgoue with High Level Panel

The Civil Society Dialogue with key United Nations (UN) personnel and members of the High Level Panel (HLP) on the Post 2015 development agenda took place on September 24th at the Church Center for the United Nations (CCUN), a civil society community space across the street from the United Nations Headquarters in New York City. Over 200 C)ivil Society (CS) representatives, UN and HLP staff attended the dialogue which took place even before the High Level Panel met officially as a group. The CS Dialogue marked a significant precedent with the High Level Panel meeting with representatives of non-governmental organizations in an open forum to begin a conversation on critical elements of planning the Post-2015 global development agenda. The CS Dialogue set a precedent which we hope will be followed at the next meeting of the High Level Panel in London on November 1 -2 with an informal meeting with representatives of civil society.

Featured were members of the UN Secretary-General’s HLP for the Post 2015 Development Agenda. Friday before the event the number of HLP members was confirmed at five. Before the weekend was over it had increased by one to six. An hour before the event it was confirmed that seven panelists would participate. In the end, nine participated, these include: H.M. Queen Rania Al Abdullah (Jordan), Tawakel Karman (Yemen), John Podesta (US), Gunilla Carlsson (Sweden), Fulbert Gero Amoussouga (Benin), Horst Kohler (Germany), Jean-Michel Severino (France), Betty Maina (Kenya) and Emilia Pires (Timor-Leste). Each panelist was allotted time for brief welcoming remarks which turned into more lengthy introductory remarks by most. For a summary, please see the UN-NGLS Round Up. For bios of the HLP, see HLP bios. For information of Post 2015 Process and engagement entry points, see 3 Pillars handout distributed by UN-Non-Governmental Liaison Service (UN-NGLS) at the CS Dialogue.

The Dialogue also included two civil society discussants (Bernadette Fischler of Beyond 2015 and Paul Okumu of African CSO Coalition on Principles & Partnerships) and Feminist Task Force Global Coordinator, Rosa Lizarde, as moderator. The diversity of civil society was reflected in the interventions from the floor which included workers (ITUC/Sara Burke/FES); socially excluded and impoverished communities (Paul Divakar/Dalit human rights); inclusion of international financial structure analysis for Post 2015 (Bhumika Muchhala-Third World Network); disabilities rights; rural/grassroots women (Fatima Ahmed, Sudan); women’s movement (Shannon Kowalski/IWHC and women’s coalition on 2015), environmentalist (Patricia Lerner, Greenpeace International), inclusion of youth and more women’s issues via twitter.

The participation of four high level UN representatives, nine members of the High Level Panel, numerous aides of the HLP, including two staff members of the HLP co-chair and UK Prime Minister David Cameron, representatives of many UN agencies (NGLS, UNMC, UNDP, DESA, UNV, UN Women were co-supporters), as well as an engaged civil society present in the room and online indicated a high level of interest in civil society engagement with the HLP. The CS Dialogue put in motion what we hope, and what was mentioned by the moderator in her introductory remarks, is a consistent, in depth and genuine dialogue with civil society and NGOs on the Post-2015 process, as well as to set a precedent to hold these civil society dialogues at the next gatherings of the HLP.

The CS Dialogue provided an initial “meet and greet” directly with the HLP even before the HLP had met officially for the first time (they met the next day on Sept. 25th). Nevertheless, the fairly strong showing and the expressed solidarity with civil society by many members was an indication that HLP, at least those present, view civil society as partners in the dialogue around Post 2015. Some mentioned how the development agenda and narrative needed to shift dramatically and called for a more “robust approach.” Strong supportive statements came from Queen Rania, Gunilla Carlsson, Emilia Pirez (comes from civil society) and Yemeni activist Tawakel Karman who said, “I will be your voice” on the HLP.

It also provided the opportunity to meet the key persons in the Post-2015 Development Agenda. These panelists are listed below with more details on them below:

Women’s groups were visible at the CS Dialogue and online on the twitter feed, including on the FTF handle @FemTaskForce. The CS Dialogue happened in conjunction with the September launch of www.worldwewant2015.org

Panelists included:

Amina J. Mohammed (Assistant Secretary General, Special Adviser of the Secretary-General on Post-2015 Development Planning, Ex-Officio, High-Level Panel on Post-2015 Development Agenda)

  • John Hendra (Co-chair of UN Development Group, UN Women)
  • Shamshad Akhtar (Assistant Secretary General, Department of Economic and Social Affairs)
  • Homi Kharas (Lead Author and Executive Secretary of the High Level Panel)

Amina J. Mohammed, Special Adviser to the Secretary-General on Post-2015 Development Planning – Amina is the key person from the S-G’s office who will orchestrate much of the planning and strategizing involved in the Post 2015 process. She has already met with members of the UN NGO Post-2015 Working Group a month ago and was a strong voice for civil society participation. She stressed that the process will be open, inclusive and transparent. One definite promise made at the Dialogue was to respond to a critique of the HLP Terms of Reference by certain members of civil society (see Beyond 2015/GCAP with support from ITUC and CIVICUS. The FTF together with GCAP pushed to include some gender analysis into this critique.).

Amina also introduce Nelson Muffuh, (formerly with UNMC Africa) the new Multistakeholder Outreach Coordinator in Amina’s office and a key liaison for civil society.

John Hendra, Co-chair of UNDG, and Assistant Secretary General (ASG) of UN Women, emphasized among other points the country and thematic consultations which fall under his purvey. He emphasized the civil society/UN web platform http://www.worldwewant2015.org (see more info below) as a means for substantive inputs and sharing of information. UN Women together with UNICEF are conveners of the Inequalities Consultation.

Shamshad Akhtar, ASG DESA, is a key person for the sustainable development goals (SDG) agenda and the Intergovernmental Open Working Group on SDG (part of Rio+20 follow-up).

Homi Kharas, Lead Author and Executive Secretary of the Secretariat of the HLP, will be the collector of information from the HLP members to author a report of their recommendations. The HLP staff, including an Outreach Coordinator for stakeholders, is still being put together.

Next Meeting of the HLP: The next meeting of the HLP is in London on November 1-2. Initial plans included a first informal day with a civil society dialogue and a closed door session the next day with the HLP. The first meeting was originally planned for Monrovia, Liberia but was changed after the HLP met on September 25. Information from the meeting indicated that HLP co-chair David Cameron took charge of the meeting resulting in a change of location to London for the next meeting. Civil society input at the next meeting is key.

The UK government representatives have requested input about the CS Dialogue for the London meeting and have been open to suggestions. The FTF has called for gender balance in the representation of civil society at the CS Dialogue as well as equal representation from the Global South and North. We are soliciting information from partners who have colleagues in London who might be able to attend. For those interested in strategizing on the London meeting, please contact me at FeministTaskForce_at_gmail.com .

The event was co-organized by GCAP, Beyond 2015, CIVICUS, Stakeholder Forum and the FTF. It was co-supported by  UN-NGLS, UNMC, UNDP, DESA, UNV, and UN Women and moderated by Feminist Task Force Global Coordinator, Rosa Lizarde.
This event was live-streamed on www.worldwewant2015.org.

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