Study Recommends Improvements to Major Groups Framework

Undsd26 July 2013: A new study analyzes the history of the Major Groups programme of the Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD) and offers suggestions for a new framework of Major Group engagement with the High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF). The study is announced in the latest issue of the 'Sustainable Development in Action' newsletter from the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs' (DESA) Division for Sustainable Development (DSD).

Commissioned by DSD's Major Groups Programme, the study titled 'Strengthening Public Participation at the United Nations for Sustainable Development: Dialogue, Debate, Dissent, Deliberation' highlights the best practices and challenges faced by Major Groups participating in UN activities, and looks to new and emerging principles of engagement. It was conducted through a series of interviews with actors from civil society, Member States, and the UN system. It details the establishment of the Major Groups in the CSD process and lessons learned from the current framework for participation created by Agenda 21. The report also looks at other examples of civil society engagement across the UN system.

Concerns expressed with the current framework for engagement include the limited quality and quantity of funding for broad participation. The report finds that access to timely information, meetings, processes, documents, and speaking opportunities would strengthen stakeholder participation, and recommends that adequate resources be dedicated to capacity-building and funding. Among other recommendations for structural and technical improvements to the Major Groups programme, the report encourages the UN system to commit to a greater engagement of stakeholders and civil society, while calling on Major Group members to broaden participation through self-organization. Member States are also encouraged to respect the activities of the Major Groups and seek an active debate with the stakeholders. [Publication: Strengthening Public Participation at the United Nations for Sustainable Development: Dialogue, Debate, Dissent, Deliberation] [Publication: Sustainable Development in Action, Volume 1, Issue 7]