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Developing the capacities of civil society globally for a successful implementation of the SDGs

Civil society must have a central role in monitoring and implementing the SDGs. Even though its capacities and potential differ between countries, civil society is generally a key player in local, national and global development efforts. Civil society must therefore be an important partner in Agenda 2030 programs and policy-making, alongside governments, donors, the private sector and other stakeholders.

These were the main points of the IFP’s Policy Paper on “Developing the capacities of civil society globally for a successful implementation of the 2030 Agenda” launched during this years’ High Level Political Forum in July 2017 in New York.

A coordinated global approach to capacity development

The national NGO platforms and regional coalitions across the world who are members of the IFP have begun to actively engage with the Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development. Their early experience makes it clear that there is an urgent need for the international community to plan for, and fully resource a coordinated global approach to the capacity development of civil society.

Taking account of the diversity of civil society

Civil society organizations globally are extremely diverse. Any capacity development aimed at increasing their effectiveness in monitoring and implementing Agenda 2030 must take account of this diversity. A wide variety of actors must therefore be enabled to participate in the capacity development initiatives planned.

Ensuring strong collaborative partnerships

A successful implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development will depend on strong collaborative partnerships between governments and other actors at all levels. Civil society should be included in these partnerships. They should be involved at all stages of the program-cycle: planning, consultation, implementation, monitoring and review.

These partnerships will require effective information-sharing and the collaborative development of new approaches to move the Agenda 2030 forward. Many of the skills and capacities needed for the effective functioning of these multi-stakeholder partnerships do not currently exist within different sectors. This is true of civil society globally. Despite the crucial role it plays in development, it is under-resourced and under-supported in many contexts.

Identifying the capacity development needs of civil society

As a first step, the systematic and objective identification of the capacity development needs of civil society globally is required. This process should examine the internal capacities of CSOs. It should also assess their ability to engage externally in multi-sectoral partnerships and influence their environments.

Scope of CSO Agenda 2030 capacity development

To overcome the Agenda 2030 implementation challenges, CSOs will need capacity development linked to activities in which they may not previously have engaged. These activities are likely to include data collection and analysis linked to monitoring, or engaging with the private sector in multi-stakeholder partnerships.

CSOs will need to improve their partnership and advocacy strategies and develop their innovative capacities, to ensure successful implementation. Capacity development will also be critical to promote the scaling- up of programs linked to the Agenda 2030.

There will be a need for CSOs to focus more on the development of in-country practical skills, and less on academic theory. Capacity development initiatives will need to take existing capacities into account, identify local knowledge and mobilize it from the beginning.

CSOs will require not just skills training, but the development of systems to deal with the challenges of working with multiple stakeholders and of managing accountability, transparency and effectiveness issues. Increased leadership and learning will be needed for CSOs to become more effective in their planning, monitoring, and evaluation activities.

Improved access to information, training materials and relevant experts will be critical elements of successful capacity development programs aimed at civil society. Online platforms providing open- content education and training materials will help to facilitate these processes.

Conclusion

The experience of IFP members in starting to monitor and implement the Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development has convinced our global network that there is an urgent need for the international political community to plan for, and fully resource a coordinated approach to the Agenda 2030 capacity development of civil society globally. At the HLPF in New York in July this year the IFP launched its new policy paper calling on the UN, its Member States and other major donors to:

(i) Plan for, and develop a coordinated global approach to the capacity development of civil society and other stakeholders, linked to the monitoring and implementation requirements of the Agenda 2030.

(ii) Provide support and assistance to global networks such as IFP, and to other regional and national networks to identify the Agenda 2030 capacity development needs of their member organizations.

(iii) Create a Global Fund to promote the capacity building and development of different stakeholder groups involved in Agenda 2030 monitoring and implementation, with a focus on civil society. Ensure that the Global Fund is distributed in a way that respects the universality of the agenda and the diversity of needs expressed by civil society from different regions.

To see the full version of the IFP Policy Paper on “Developing the capacities of civil society globally for a successful implementation of the 2030 Agenda “please use the following link.

The press release (see link here) was issued to the international media, UN institutions and other key stakeholders.

Deirdre De Burca