by Zahra Bazzi
The Agenda 2030, which looks into achieving important goals for the improvement of people’s lives at the same time save the planet through joint efforts of all development partners, is very ambitious. Yet stakeholders engaged in the High Level Political Forum (HLPF) reiterated their commitment to work toward those goals. However, the commitment to “leave no one behind” necessitates special consideration to the systemic challenges in relation to the structural, economic, financial, social, demographic, ecologic and geographic issues which generate inequalities and affect the countries’ choices.
At the HLPF, it was apparent that many of those challenges remain insufficiently addressed in national and global strategies and plans towards 2030. Hence, all the developmental partners at the national, regional and global levels were enjoined to build a genuine international cooperation based on the core principles of the global partnership for development, highlighting the rights-based approach and the principle of common but differentiated responsibility.
What should this partnership be like?
To achieve the 2030 Agenda, an integrated action must be adopted just as greater effectiveness and efficiency must be promoted in development cooperation. This cooperation is essential for leveraging new resources and new types of co-operation and for engaging a wider array of actors. In addition, balanced relationship based on the core principles of the Aid and Development Effectiveness must be ensured, particularly respecting democratic ownership and mutual accountability principles.
During the HLPF, civil society was indeed provided space to bring people’s voices to the global table. The Major Groups and stakeholders were enabled to autonomously establish effective coordination mechanisms for their participation and were allowed to attend all official meetings, have access to all official information and documents, called to intervene in official meetings, present written and oral contributions, and make recommendations, even on the agenda of the HLPF.
However, the design and discussion processes in the third HLPF remained largely voluntary and government led. As voluntary national reviews, there was no explicit mechanism selecting the country cases nor were there bases for assessment. During the forum, the governments were provided enough time for reporting and deliberation while the civil society organizations (national and regional) were only given two minutes to raise a single question. The time for answers is also limited so most of the questions were left hanging.
People’s voices are powerful only to the extent that they are given power. It is apparent from the engagement at the HLPF that space for civil society engagement in the review process must be expanded at various levels – national, regional and global – in the coming 15 years if we are looking at a partnership that effectively works for people.
Arab NGO Network for Development (ANND)