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Peoples’ participation in implementation, follow up and review of post-2015 Development Agenda: An african perspective

Without a strong political commitment for implementation, follow-up and review, and participatory involvement of people and their organizations, there is a high risk that the outcomes from these processes could just end up in papers.

The year 2015 is an important one for global development as the Millennium Development Goals endorsed in 2000 with 8 goals, 21 targets, and 60 indicators are coming to an end in less than 100 days. In the same period, the international community is expected to endorse an ambitious, transformative, and people centered post-2015 development agenda comprised of 17 goals, and 169 targets. The indicators for the post-2015 development agenda are work-in-progress and scheduled to be completed by March 2016.

Several key processes are happening in 2015, such as the approbation of the Addis Ababa Action Agenda, which includes an agreement on follow-up and review mechanism for Financing for Development commitments; the endorsement of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030; the upcoming Climate Change negotiations at the 21st Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC (COP-21) in December 2015; and the Intergovernmental Negotiations (IGNs) on the post-2015 Development Agenda, which ending on 31st July 2015 with the final outcome document that is going to be tabled to the Heads of States and Government at the United Nations Summit in September 2015.

With all these key processes happening, it is important to focus on the content, citizens and civil society participation, but also most importantly to focus on their implementation, follow-up and review, and the role of citizens and civil society in the same.

As opposed to the Millennium Development Goals, the post-2015 Development Agenda has been inclusive, gathering citizen’s priorities through national consultations in 88 countries (36 from Africa), 11 global thematic consultations, and online surveys through my world survey.

Civil society has also been engaged in regional processes shaping the post-2015 development agenda framework. In Africa, civil society organizations played an active role in coming up with the Common African Position on post-2015 Development Agenda (CAP) providing them with full ownership of the process.

However, without a strong political commitment for implementation, follow-up and review, and participatory involvement of people and their organizations, there is a high risk that the outcomes from these processes could just end up in papers.

For the plans to hit the ground running as of 1st January 2016, and to effectively leave no one behind, therefore we need strong political commitment and institutional frameworks at national level to support the implementation of the agenda which is twice the size of the MDGs, and involving the three dimensions of sustainable development stablished at the 1992 UN Rio conference: Economic, Social and Environment dimensions. A study conducted by United Nations Economic Commission for Africa revealed that countries have taken different approaches in developing and implementing National Strategies for Sustainable Development. While some countries are improving or restructuring the decision making process to achieve a full integration of social, economic and environmental pillars and include a broad range of participation, others have taken a complimentary approach, whereby a separate strategy document that embodied the broad strategic framework was prepared, then other strategies and planning instruments were updated to incorporate the sustainability principles espoused in the framework strategy.

Even though efforts are underway in most countries to ensure timely and effective implementation of the post-2015 Development Agenda, this still teaches us and tells us a lot about political commitment for implementation. All in all, coordination of the three pillars has not been easy in most countries in Africa.

Recognizing these gaps and inline with the Beyond 2015 campaign focus shift from Policy to Action, the campaign in Africa is focusing more on implementation and follow-up and review at national and regional level insisting on effective integration of people and their organizations into the follow-up and review mechanisms at national level.

These efforts have led to meetings between civil society organizations and their governments, CSOs participation in national consultations on the post-2015 Development Agenda, and to join as part of national delegations for the Intergovernmental Negotiations on the post-2015 Development Agenda. The Civil Society Engagement Mechanism has become a model in the region and beyond. Its replication is current ongoing in a number of countries.

The campaign is actively engaged in regional implementation, follow-up and review processes through the African Union Commission, African Development Bank and United Nations Economic Commission for Africa. This includes a side event at the UN in May on Regional and National Follow-up and Review Mechanisms: opportunities and challenges for the post-2015 Development Agenda in Africa, which was organized in collaboration with the Permanent Mission of the United Republic of Tanzania and African Union New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD).

The campaign in Africa is also leading the process of institutionalization of the role of major groups, civil society, and other stakeholders in agenda setting, implementation, follow-up and review of the Sustainable Development Agenda in Africa (this includes both post-2015 Development Agenda and Africa’s Agenda 2063)..

Existing follow-up and review mechanisms such the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM), and the Africa Regional Forum on Sustainable Development (ARFSD) already have good civil society engagement mechanisms which need to be strengthened. It is crucial for the achievements of the post-2015 Development Agenda to be assessed through the eyes of the citizens especially of the most marginalized and the ones living in poverty.

Stephen Chacha, Beyond 2015 Regional Coordinator – Africa