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Civil society organisations propose strengthened partnerships to achieve sustainable development
Published on September 3, 2013 Email To Friend    Print Version

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados -- Caribbean and Pacific civil society organisations have proposed to their governments that strengthening partnerships with them will contribute to achieving sustainable development in small island developing states (SIDS).

The call was made at the SIDS Inter-regional Preparatory Meeting held in Barbados 26-28 August 2013, which was held to prepare for the Third International Conference on Small Island Developing States which will be held from 1 to 4 September 2014 in Apia, Samoa. The theme of the conference was “Sustainable development of Small Island Developing States through genuine and durable partnerships”.

In a prepared statement delivered to the meeting on behalf of the NGO major group, Nicole Leotaud from the Caribbean Natural Resources Institute (CANARI), noted that civil society organisations “bring to the table our connections and knowledge of issues and opportunities on the ground, perspectives from diverse stakeholders which we represent, and our innovative, integrated and inclusive approaches to development”.

One of the nine major civil society groups participating in the meeting in Barbados, the NGO major group identified four priority areas that must be addressed for sustainable development in SIDS: participatory governance, economic development, ocean governance and building resilience to risks. They also recommended specific practical actions that need to be taken to address these priorities.

Much of the discussions of the preparatory process have focused on identifying practical and pragmatic actions that could be taken by all countries to accelerate implementation of sustainable development priorities set by SIDS in previous conferences in Barbados in 1994 and Mauritius in 2005. SIDS will also be promoting their priorities in global discussions on development of new sustainable development goals to replace the current Millennium Development Goals which end in 2015.

As SIDS countries recognise that progress towards achieving these priorities has been slow, civil society organisations called on SIDS governments to recognise the significant contribution that they are already making to sustainable development, and to develop or strengthen mechanisms for public sector-civil society partnerships that would enable them to make a greater contribution.

Mechanisms proposed include: enabling policies and legislation; strengthening representation on national, regional and global decision-making and advisory bodies; strengthening appropriate channels for engagement with government and development partners; sharing information with, and seeking information from, civil society on key development issues; and supporting dialogue among civil society on national, regional and global decision-making process.

Although civil society is increasingly being recognised as a vital “third sector” operating alongside the public and private sectors, in practice much more needs to be done to develop effective partnerships to better leverage the expertise, knowledge and experience of civil society.
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