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SDG 16, SESSION 1 Strengthening Institutions for Change: Fostering Effective and Inclusive Governance for Sustainable Development

Dear all,

My name is Valentina Bodrug-Lungu. I’m coming from Republic of Moldova, Gender-Center and WMG, but I am here today to speak as a representative of civil society, as part of the UN ECE Regional CSO Engagement Mechanism.

My name is Anton Martinov. I’m coming from Bulgaria, International Youth Alliance, but I am here today to speak as a representative of civil society, as part of the UN ECE Regional CSO Engagement Mechanism.

Effective governance is an important precondition in order to implement any in-sector reform and to achieve important commitments under the SDGs. SDG 16 should be a key driver and provides a clear opportunity to consolidate regional and national efforts to achieve sustainable development in the European and Central Asia region and beyond.


Takin into consideration the complexity of issues covered by SDG 16, we would like to stress special attention on following:

  1. Establish and strengthen independent and effective National Human Rights Institutions in compliance with the Paris Principles, who serve as bridge-builders between state authorities and NGOs, and support NGOs in accessing to and having impact on law and policymaking processes and ensuring that laws and policies are inclusive and effectively address all groups in societies.
  1. ‘Empowering people’ requires public policies enacted by Member States to follow the principles and standards of international human rights treaties and to uphold the human values shared across countries and cultures. This includes policies for all at all ages, gender, abilities which are often uncoordinated, fragmented or non-existent.
  1. Ensure the highest level of transparency in the functioning of institutions and in the policy-making process including through access to documents complemented by a legislative footprint that publicly discloses the input from interest groups. To ensure inclusive participation of all groups at all stages of decision making process.
  1. All countries must recognize and challenge the existing multiple forms of discrimination such as based on age, gender, disability, LGBTI, ethnic groups, migrants, etc. A gender lens with the intersections is needed.
  2. Access to information throughout the life course is key to achieve SDG 16. Indicator 16.10.2 refers to the number of countries that adopt and implement constitutional, statutory and/or policy guarantees for public access to information. This goal has been achieved as 90% of the world’s population lives in a country having a right to information law or policy. We recommend to focus on the implementation and monitoring how effectively governments and authorities are implementing laws by providing vital services and holding them to account.
  3. Armed conflicts, the militarization of societies and the weakening of democracy undermine freedom of association, endanger the physical integrity of union organizers and leaders and ultimately affect the power and strength of the trade union movement. Civic space continued to close around the world and decent work and democratic rights grew weaker in almost all countries, while inequality continued to grow – the number of countries that deny or constrain freedom of speech increased from 50 in 2017 to 54 in 2018. Thus, to implement and achieve SDG 16, promoting the decent work agenda and its four pillars – employment creation, social protection, rights at work, and social dialogue – is key. Human and labour rights, freedom of association and collective bargaining, hand in hand with social dialogue are not only essential ingredients for sustainable economic growth and job creation, but also the pillars of democracy-building. Building and fortifying democratic processes is in turn a cornerstone for just development. Working for peace, democracy and rights means securing a decent standard of living for all. It means social justice, equality and equity for everybody.
  4. It is therefore imperative to build on the foundation offered by UNSCR 2250 in shift from reactive and remedial security responses to a more proactive approach to support positive resilience of the majority of young people and other vulnerable groups. Measures aiming to support the implementation of the UNSCR 2250 through the changes operated at political level to build youth-inclusive mechanisms, incentives and benefits for governments.
  5. To ensure the involvement of CSOs, including younger and older persons and women’s NGOs, in the process of conflicts’ negotiation and mediation. Transforming systems that reinforce exclusion to address structural barriers limiting youth, older persons, women’ participation in peace and security.
  6. Localization of international standards and national documents on Women, Peace and Security, Agenda 2030 in order to ensure its mainstreaming into policies at local level – ensuring the “Leave No One Behind” principle. Governments and multilateral organizations must commit to partnerships based on trust with diverse civil society partners working on peace and security, including youth and women organizations, marginalized groups.
  7. Remodel EU governance to face current challenges while giving life to the principle of partnership, including civic participation. Review and reform of existing mechanisms for participation, together with new and different structures and ways of working between the EU institutions and other stakeholders in line with SDG 16.
  8. The main purpose of our and our partners working on this issue is to put ourselves in the first place: putting into control and non-use of depleted uranium weapons. Exploring and neutralizing the consequences of using this type of weaponry is possible, given the irreversibility the damage to people and the environment. Publicize the problem not only in the Balkan region but also elsewhere in the world where this type of weapons is already used have data about Iraq and Sirya. We should give transparency and ask for accountability on these issues from all international institutions and organizations. To give publicity and access to information not only to those affected by the public at large. In order to put pressure on those who allow themselves to use this type of weaponry.
  9. We do not want to judge those who have caused it, we want to be held accountable to the international community and to force them to stop using this type of weaponry. History is for historians to judge it we need to create and secure the future – safe and with better living conditions for future generations. If we do not, we will be judged by them one day. And we will remain in history as those who are guilty of doing nothing against those who destroyed the planet.
  10. Develop an action agenda for a global platform on partnerships for peace and security and SDGs among CSOs, international cooperation agencies and like-minded government and relevant international organizations in the future.
  11. To ensure connection between SDG 16 and international documents such: CEDAW General Recommendation no. 30 on women in conflict prevention, conflict and post-conflict situations, Beijing Platform for Action, Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security, UNSCR 2250, ILO Convention 169
  12. In terms of indigenous people – to “ratify ILO Convention 169, and ensure prior and informed consent by indigenous people in terms of all planning that impacts their lives”.
  13. To ensure interlinkages between SDG 16 and other SDGs.


Note: the materials were prepared with contribution of representatives of different groups and individuals.

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