During the course of 2015, our leaders and governments committed themselves to several agreements that have the potential to shape the future of people and planet over the next few decades. While there are mixed views in civil society about whether the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Paris Agreement on climate change are ambitious enough, almost everyone agrees that civil society needs to play an active role in keeping the spotlight on these commitments, working on implementation, and holding our leaders to account for the promises they have made.
Civil society has mobilised in a variety of ways in recent years to influence the post-2015 sustainable development process and climate negotiations. Whether it was organising on policy and advocacy through Beyond 2015 and other platforms, or mobilising on the streets through action/2015 or the Global Climate March, civil society has kept up the pressure in recent years.
Over the last 12 months, many civil society organisations and activists who have been involved in these initiatives have started to turn their attention to what comes next. Discussions of how civil society should organize and mobilise around international agreements on sustainable development were held in Tunis (April), Addis Ababa (July), New York (September), Paris (December), Istanbul (March) and Bogota (April).
This process revealed that there was widespread enthusiasm to harness the positive energy that has been created through civil society initiatives of recent years and build a strong and inclusive global platform to connect and support civil society activities on sustainable development at all levels (local, national, regional and global). It was felt that a new global platform would add value to civil society in at least three important ways.
First, there has been much interest in a space for sharing information on the sustainable development agenda across issues and across countries. It would provide a space to share resources and strategies for advocacy, policy, programmes and mobilisation and facilitate collaboration amongst civil society actors. Secondly, there have been clear calls to redress the imbalance in capacity within civil society itself, especially between well-resourced CSOs and the rest. Thirdly, there was also a recognition that whatever comes next should represent a step change in the ways that civil society organises and mobilises around this agenda.
Conscious of the need to build a broad-based movement and of the need to strike an effective balance between pausing to draw lessons and retaining the momentum, the following four global civil society networks have agreed to work together to oversee the next steps in building this new global platform on sustainable development:
- CIVICUS is the world alliance for citizen participation which has members in more than 170 countries and has incubated previous initiatives such as action/2015 and GCAP.
- Climate Action Network International (CAN) is a worldwide network of over 950 NGOs in over 110 countries working to promote government and individual action to limit human-induced climate change to ecologically sustainable levels.
- Global Call to Action Against Poverty (GCAP) is a global civil society movement calling for an end to poverty and inequality, with national coalitions in 85 countries and regional coordination in Africa, Asia, Latin America and Caribbean and Europe.
- International Forum of National NGO Platforms (IFP/FIP) is a network of 64 national development NGO platforms and 6 regional NGO coalitions from 5 continents.
There is also a Facilitation Group that provides an advisory role to Action4SD´s host organisations and the Working Groups to ensure programs and strategies stay on track. The group is ultimately responsible for implementing programmatic activities at the regional level.
This international platform would not be possible without the ambition, dedication and good will of the volunteers that donate their expertise and energy to the project.
A special thank you to our project translators, Mathe Kinyana and Walter Leiva for translating content into French and Spanish.