Leo Williams shares his thoughts on CSOs and a post-2015 framework

Leo Williams Beyond 2015Leo Williams in the International Coordinator of the Beyond 2015 campaign, which brings together over 260 civil society organisations from more than 60 countries that work together to influence the creation of the Post- 2015 Development Framework. Prior to this role, Mr Williams worked as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) Officer for Bond, the UK membership organisation for NGOs working in international development, and the Scotland Malawi Partnership, a large network of organisations and individuals working between Scotland and Malawi. Having studied Arabic, he also worked to promote peace and justice between Jewish and Arab citizens of Israel together with the Givat Haviva and the Abraham Fund Initiatives.

How has the establishment of the MDGs framework enhanced the voices of CSOs in the global South since its inception in 2000? Please elaborate on whether or not there was a significant increase of involvement from global South actors during the past 13 years, in a way that was lacking at the creation of the MDGs.

I have certainly seen a marked increase in the engagement of actors from the global south in the Beyond 2015 campaign. For example, in late 2010, the majority of governments, UN departments and CSOs were of the opinion that it was too early to start talking about 'post-MDGs' for fear that it would mean less focus on achieving the MDGs before the 2015 deadline. Relatively quickly this became an untenable position as CSOs started to realise that it had taken governments over a decade of 'summitteering' to agree the Millennium Declaration which led to the MDGs. In 2010 and 2011 we did not have the luxury of a decade – we needed to ensure that these conversations started as soon as possible, to ensure the process to develop the next framework was participatory, inclusive and responsive to the voices of those most affected by poverty and injustice – rather than to have been written by a small group of UN insiders.

To what extent has the presence of civil society organisations (CSOs) globally increased upon decision making and consultative platforms during past years and how are they currently being convened within the Post-2015 Agenda?

Within the Post-2015 Agenda, CSOs are convened in a variety of different ways in relation to decision making and consultative platforms:

  • Over 600 CSOs from almost 100 countries participate in the Beyond 2015 campaign, which is led by an Executive Committee consisting of 6 CSOs from the global south and 6 from the global north.
  • At the national level, Beyond 2015, the Global Call to Action against Poverty (GCAP) and the International Forum of National NGO Platforms are co-convening 30 national civil society deliberations on the post-2015 framework. Lead agencies in each of these countries are organising these deliberations and follow up advocacy work. Lead agencies are support by regional coordinators in Africa, Asia, Europe and Latin America. Lead agencies make every effort to be included in the UN led national consultations, feeding in the results from their deliberations.
  • Lead agencies are convening Beyond 2015 input into the 11 thematic consultations. In some cases, these lead agencies sit on the UN convened advisory bodies running the consultations. In others, lead agencies or members of the drafting team present the paper at the physical meetings.
  • In relation to the High Level Panel, CSOs have organised under the umbrella of Beyond 2015 UK hub to organise the CSO Outreach days in London. In Africa, CSOs formed the Africa CSO Working Group to organise the outreach days, and in Asia CSOs are forming the Asia CSO Facilitation Group.
  • CSO engagement in the Open Working Group remains to be formalised. One proposal on the table is that of the Major Groups.

What changes in the relationship and development practices of States, corporations and civil society are expected to occur as the international community transitions from the MDGs to Post- 2015 Agenda?

I would expect that states and corporations should be better held to account in the post-2015 agenda, assuming that the agenda puts in place robust accountability mechanisms, as called for by the Beyond 2015 campaign.

"The framework must set out enforceable accountability and transparency mechanisms and processes at national, regional and global levels. This must include national oversight and independent review mechanisms at the international level with multi-stakeholder participation. The framework must include monitoring mechanisms with reliable, comparable and disaggregated data (both quantitative and qualitative) and baselines. These mechanisms must also operate with maximum transparency of source and use. The responsibilities of different actors, including, civil society, governments, multilaterals and private sector actors, must be clearly reflected at all levels of the framework so that actors are able to hold one another to account. Monitoring processes must promote a deep, holistic view of development, sustainability and justice, and must avoid reducing the framework to simplistic measures."

I would hope that states will accept that this needs to be a universal agenda, recognising shared global challenges and including the obligations, ownership and accountability of every country to respond to the needs of ALL. States should accept that there will be a need for contextualised national targets are needed for different countries, reflecting different challenges and strengths, and inspired by the principle of common but differentiated responsibility.

The framework must reflect and support the active participation of ALL people in their individual and collective development process. The development, monitoring, re-planning and implementation of the framework must be based on extensive consultation involving all stakeholders especially people living in extreme poverty and marginalization. Citizens should thus be much more involved and engaged in this process – which should be people focused.

The next agenda should help build a world where political and economic systems deliver well-being for all people within the limits of our planet's resources.

How is the World We Want 2015 Campaign being utilised by Beyond 2015 to mobilise civil society within the Post-2015 Agenda?

Beyond 2015 worked with GCAP and UN Millennium Campaign to provide a toolkit to enable lead agencies to structure and organise their national civil society deliberations under the banner of the world we want. Such deliberations are currently underway in 30 countries throughout the world.