Following are UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed’s video remarks to the “Global Perspectives 2020 Experience – Passion for Inclusion!” conference organized by the International Civil Society Centre, today:
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is a pleasure to join you for this important conference. Thank you to the International Civil Society Centre for organizing it.
The United Nations commitment to civil society participation is enshrined in the United Nations Charter. Indeed, since our birth 75 years ago, the United Nations has worked with civil society across the world to advance social inclusion, peace, development and human rights. Civil society engagement was an important element in the formation and adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). And as we look ahead, we know civil society actors – local, regional, global; formal and informal; secular and religious – are fundamental to all our work.
The diversity and importance of civil society has been especially evident during the COVID‑19 pandemic. You and so many organizations and groups like yours have worked hard to meet the concerns and needs of vulnerable people and to amplify their voices. You have advocated with Governments for the best course through the pandemic and for the need to reinforce ambitious global solidarity and effective global cooperation. And you have worked to counter disinformation and measures that undermine people’s rights, public trust and social cohesion.
Despite your best efforts, and some truly inspiring action from Governments, the global response to the pandemic has fallen short. We are all concerned about the impacts that the pandemic is having on poverty reduction, on gender equality, on youth employment and so much more.
At the same time, the pandemic has created new awareness of the fragility of our world and on the deficiencies that leave so many societies vulnerable to shocks and crises – whether conflict, climate, economic or health‑related. It has helped highlight the unsustainability of our current development model. And it has demonstrated that when public demand is met with political will, transformative changes are possible.
We now have a new generational opportunity to embark on a rapid transition to a more just, equal and sustainable world called for by the 2030 Agenda. As we begin this Decade of Action to deliver the SDGs, seizing this opportunity must be our focus. We need to find a way to unite to direct power and resources towards our common objectives. We need to find ways to unite people and organizations working on a diversity of issues – across traditional boundaries and from the local to the global. And we need to ensure that the general public – not just officials and experts – are driving this transformation.
The United Nations is counting on our indispensable partnership with civil society to help us deliver the action, resources, policies and public support needed for the world to recover better, to build a more inclusive and sustainable future and to achieve the SDGs by 2030.
With the United Nations development reform taking hold in countries, our country teams are working not just to protect civil society space but to engage civil society on socioeconomic response and recovery plans and on those critical interventions that will help unlock transformative change.
And one of our flagship programmes for the SDGs is modelling a new way of working with civil society. The Spotlight Initiative, a partnership with the European Union to end all forms of violence against women and girls, has at the heart of its model a true partnership. Civil society participates in decision‑making, design and delivery of programmes, and regular consultations from the local to global levels of representation.
We have a great deal of work ahead of us. But working together, supporting one another throughout this Decade, we can translate our shared passion for inclusion into progress for people and planet.