Policy Forum on Development Confirms EU Commitment to CSO Involvement
About 80 development practitioners, representatives of civil society organisations, local authorities and members of European institutions exchanged on the New Communication on Civil Society, and the post-2015 Development Agenda. They stressed the need to involve civil society and local authorities, particularly during their first discussion on the new Thematic Programme on Civil Society Organisations (CSO) and Local Authorities (LA).
The members of the Policy Forum on Development met for its second interim meeting on 18-19 October 2012, as a follow-up of the Structured Dialogue process. The Forum is a multi-stakeholder dialogue space that brings together representatives from Civil Society Organisations and Local Authorities from the European Union (EU) Member States and partner countries, as well as representatives from the EU institutions such as the EEAS (European External Action Service), the EP (European Parliament), the EESC (European Economic and Social Committee), the CoR (Committee of Regions) and the EIB (European Investment Bank), to discuss and debate about EU Development policy. This forum offered the opportunity to consult members on the new CSO-LA thematic programme, drawing from the new policy: "The roots of democracy and sustainable development: Europe's engagement with Civil Society in external relations", published on 12 September 2012.
A session was dedicated to the presentation of this new policy, which has the objective to ensure the promotion of a more conducive environment for civil society. It builds on a long-standing partnership with civil society groups and particularly on the results of the "Structured Dialogue", a two-year consultation with civil society and local authorities from Europe, Asia, Latin America, Africa and the Neighbourhood region.
Addressing members of the forum during the session on Post-2015, European Commissioner for Development, Andris Piebalgs, said that "for the EU to play an active role in the global debate on development post-2015, we need partners like you, as truly representative organisations, to continue providing us with your inputs, as you have done through the public consultation and, more broadly speaking, through the Structured Dialogue and this successor forum."
Commissioner Piebalgs further explained that the post-2015 agenda should lie on three pillars: decent living standards for all, human rights and good stewardship of natural resources.
Sitting on the forum’s panel, Member of European Parliament (MEP) Eva Joly stressed that the need to involve civil society applies both to EU Member States and to partner countries. The aim is “to broaden up the scope of people that can be involved in the decision-making process”, she said. “There is a need to make sure that the European Commission talks to the right people, such as local authorities, members of the opposition and civil society”, she concluded.
Aroma Dutta, representing the Private Rural Initiatives Program, a civil society organization from Bangladesh, explained that civil society plays a major role at the grassroots level in her country for building the capacity of local authorities and thus pushing for decentralisation.
Co-panelist Jean-Pierre Elong Mbassi Secretary-General of United Cities and Local Governments of Africa, told a success story: the fight against HIV in Uganda has been possible thanks to an initiative decided at national level and transferred to local authorities. This should be applied to other development challenges, he said, such as privatisation, alphabetisation, or health care “because the closer you are to the people, the most efficient the policy will be”.
Perkin Francis Duri, acting Secretary General of the United Citizen Local Government of Africa, added that the relationship between local authorities and civil society needs to be better defined.
Leyla Yunusova, representative of civil society in ENPI region, stressed the challenge to get governments and civil society organisations to work hand in hand.
Tanya Cox, from Save the Children is chair of the Beyond 2015 European Task Force. She stressed the difficulty for policy makers to reach out to people in rural areas in Africa or in Asia.
The momentum built by the Structured Dialogue process is gathering and manifesting in these follow up meetings. But while policy is on track to assist engagement with both local authorities and civil society in order to achieve results for post-2015 goals, participants at the Policy Forum raised important issues that will require continued efforts from all parties.
Please visit the capacity4dev.eu Public Group, “Policy Forum on Development: Consultation on the new thematic programme on CSO-LA"
These recent capacity4dev.eu ‘Voices and Views’ also refer to engaging civil society in the consultation process: