Raising the CSO voice in the UN financing for development arena


Lucrezia Giordano, CPDE ICSO sector

The CSO Partnership for Development Effectiveness (CPDE) was actively involved in the CSOs’ plans for the 2023 UN Forum on Financing for Development (FfD), at the United Nations Headquarters in New York from 17th to 20th April. The CPDE delegation’s main goal was to discuss the CSO perspectives on the implementation of the Integrated National Financing Frameworks (INFFs) in the official sessions and side-events with the ambition of enhancing rightsholders’ participation in the INFFs at the country level.

We joined the CSO Financing for Development (FfD) Mechanism in pushing CSOs’ FfD agenda further. CSOs played a crucial role in the Forum, bringing diverse perspectives, advocating for marginalised communities, and holding governments and international institutions accountable. CSO delegates aimed to strengthen their collective voice, amplify their impact, and explore synergies for joint advocacy efforts beyond the Forum; the CPDE delegation contributed to these efforts by actively engaging in discussions, side events, and bilateral meetings to ensure the voices and the concerns of their constituencies are heard.

The way CSOs engaged in the Forum shone a light on their role in arenas such as the UN FfD. CPDE delegates recognized many positive elements to their participation in the Forum, highlighting how CSOs’ ability to coordinate their participation in official sessions was instrumental in making their voices heard by filling all the available slots in an organized manner. The delegates noted how CSOs actively advocated for progressive policies and reforms by raising critical issues such as the need for increased Official Development Assistance (ODA) quantity and quality, for debt cancellation, and for reforms in the governance of the international financial institutions.

Through their engagement, CSOs pushed for policies that align with the principles of development effectiveness and the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). They underscored the importance of meaningful participation in decision-making by calling for inclusive and participatory approaches that involves CSOs from the planning stage to the implementation and monitoring of INFFs, urging governments and international institutions to recognise their expertise, knowledge, and on-the-ground experience in shaping effective financing strategies.

The CPDE delegates highlighted how networking, building alliances, and collaborating with like-minded organizations was another key part of CSOs’ involvement in the Forum. These interactions facilitated the exchange of best practices, strategic discussions, and opportunities for future collaborations. The CPDE delegation engaged with members of the CSO FfD Mechanism and participated in bilateral meetings with key stakeholders such as UNDP, UNICEF, UNDP, UNDESA, UNICEF, OECD, and SIDA. More specifically, in the framework of CPDE’s work on INFFs, the delegation attended a CSOs-led side event with the participation of UNDP, UNICEF and SIDA, where all the interested parties agreed to soon finalise a research on country cases.

Nevertheless, it is possible to bring up some critical aspects to CSOs’ engagement in the Forum: the lack of CSOs involvement in the design and dissemination of an Outcome Document, where the UN clearly outlines the action points to address CSOs concerns. The quality of engagement is another critical aspect since delegates perceived it as a “box-ticking” exercise without any formal assurance that CSOs’ concerns would be taken into consideration in future policies.

In conclusion, CSOs’ engagement at the UN FfD was instrumental in shaping the discussions, advocating for progressive policies, and holding stakeholders accountable. Through their active participation, CSOs ensured that the voices of marginalised communities and civil society constituencies were reflected in the official decision-making; CSOs’ ongoing monitoring and accountability efforts will continue to play a vital role in driving effective financing for development and the realization of the SDGs. However, it is critical to keep pushing for a more effective CSO engagement as well as for international agencies’ accountability in the implementation of inclusive policies that take CSOs voices into consideration.#


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