Ghulam M. Isaczai's remark at the Panel Discussion dedicated to the role of Civil Society in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals”

First of all, I would like to thank Mr. Ali Ahmadov as Chair of the NCCSD for initiating a series of discussions around the SDGs issues that offer opportunity to engage with a wide range of stakeholders.

SDGs agenda is too ambitious to be realized just by governments on their own. The unprecedented spirit of broad-based participation and inclusiveness is embedded in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development that calls for all countries and all stakeholders to act in collaborative partnership to implement SDG commitments. This forum opens up a dialogue with a major stakeholder group in the SDG related process – civil society.

Let me recall that the negotiations that led to the formulation and adoption of the 2030 Agenda in September 2015 were unprecedented in their openness and engagement of all key stakeholders – Member States, international organizations, civil society organizations, local authorities and the private sector alike. With support of the United Nations, Azerbaijan has conducted two rounds of inclusive National Consultations involving the government, civil society, young people. The engagement of civil society in these consultations has enriched the debates, built awareness, and resulted in concrete suggestions and proposals reflecting the aspirations of the people of Azerbaijan on the future they want.

The role of the CSOs in the SDG process is not accomplished with their participation at the SDG formulation stage. With the adoption of the SDGs, civil society groups have even more important roles to play.

To represent the interests of everyone, civil society should listen to people and be aware of their needs and concerns.  Their biggest role will be translating the voices of the poorest and most marginalised citizens into rational or strong arguments that are acknowledged and addressed by the local governments.  They are torchbearers in protection of human rights that help to identify groups of people whose rights have been violated, neglected or overlooked in development processes.

4Q6A2474Another critical role of civil society is to be agents of accountability that eventually will ensure that governments are held responsible for results. By adopting 2030 Agenda Member States also agreed to conduct regular and inclusive reviews of progress drawing on contributions from civil society, community groups, the private sector and other stakeholders.

While national governments hold primary responsibility for delivering services in their country, CSOs are sometimes better suited to meet the needs of people, as they can be more flexible than the government and can identify creative and innovative alternative solutions.

Additionally, CSOs have an important role to play in data collection by promoting innovative tools such as mobile technology and IT-based platforms that complement traditional forms of large-scale data collection. Beyond supporting data collection, CSOs also have the important role of directly monitoring the local implementation of the SDGs.

Dear representatives of the civil society,

As it is stressed in its 48th paragraph, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is a global vision of the people, by the people, and for the people – and this, we believe, will ensure its success. You are the voice of the people. By working with the government, international community, by building coalitions among yourselves you can make your voice strong and enhance your impact in the implementation of SDGs.

Thank you very much.

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