Opening address by RCEM (Strategy meeting part 1 – Advocacy strategising) – agenda setting of our strategy meeting
by Marianne Haslegrave, Commonwealth Medical Trust
Thank you, Hanna,
Ms Monika Linn, participants and guests, friends
We would like to welcome you all to this Strategy meeting.
UNECE-RCEM is an inclusive and friendly civil society platform established to enable stronger cross-constituency coordination and ensure that the diverse experiences and voices of all constituencies in each sub-region of the UNECE are heard and acted on in intergovernmental processes at both regional and global levels. That is why UNECE RCEM organises a pre-RFSD civil society forum, such as this one. We also include governments and
UN agencies. We are very keen that there will be a strong and inclusive regional civil society voice both within the HLPF in July, and in its follow up.
As countries in the UNECE Region begin to build forward following the COVID-19 pandemic, to ensure that the SDGs are back on track to be achieved by 2030, we see the partnership of Governments, UN entities and CSOs as being critically important. Many of our members are involved as front-line workers in preventing the spread of the coronavirus; ensuring the treatment and care of those infected and affected; and keeping our essential services going. Budgetary provision at all levels for universal access to health care, with employment guarantees and for social protection must be of the highest priority.
As Civil Society organizations, we are concerned about the shrinking space for CSOs which can seriously undermine the implementation of the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs in the post-COVID-19 era in all parts of the UNECE region. Therefore, as UNECE-RCEM, we welcome the annual inclusion of Goal 16 with its focus on institutions and justice, as well as Goal 17 on partnerships, evidence and improved data to leave no one behind.
Nevertheless, as the UNECE-RCEM, we are very concerned as to the lack of clarity in the arrangements for the Regional Forum official sessions that have been made, insofar as there are few opportunities for our full participation. Apart from two speaking slots in plenary
and two in the roundtables, it is not obvious how civil society views will be integrated into the peer learning. We also note that they focus on the economic and the environmental concerns at the expense of the social dimensions of sustainable development. Building forward transformatively post COVID-19 will require all our efforts in the social dimension as the pandemic has shown us that people from young to old from marginalised groups have been most adversely affected.
We would also ask that our recommendations be included in the RFSD outcome document.
Furthermore, we would like to reiterate the importance of inclusive access for all persons with disabilities in regional forums including UNECE RFSD. We are therefore pleased that at the last moment provision for interpretation for deaf persons is being provided in line with UN commitments on disability inclusion.
It is unacceptable to exclude any person from the sustainable development debate: everyone must be heard, which is why we invite all participants in this meeting to engage actively in developing our advocacy statements for the official sessions of the Regional Forum. As in previous years, this year we would look forward to addressing Governments and UN entities in order to call for active action for SDG achievement.
Thank you very much and I wish us all productive collaboration at the Regional Forum 2021.