Strong partnerships with civil society critical to development 

08 Apr 2011

New York — Meeting with members of the Civil Society Advisory Committee, Helen Clark, UNDP Administrator, reaffirmed the organization’s commitment to strategic partnerships with civil society to achieve shared development goals. The two-day consultation session with civil society leaders focused on development trends of importance to UNDP’s role and relevance in the multilateral arena. “The committee is a breath of fresh air,” Helen Clark said, and underlined the need for UNDP to join forces with civil society partners in addressing the complex development challenges of today.

The committee called for a strong UNDP role in the emerging climate fund, noting that climate change is the issue that civil society globally is most engaged with the United Nations. “We are at a crossroads between selective or inclusive models of multilateralism” said Committee member John Cavanagh, Director of the Institute for Policy Studies (Washington D.C.), adding that civil society strongly advocates for UN leadership of the fund.

Committee members also urged UNDP to support the emergence of an empowered civil society in countries undergoing a political transition in the Arab States region. “The UN in general can be more involved in political process leading to justice. Countries in transition such as Tunisia and Egypt are in some cases creating constitutions or new social contracts and the UN should be taking the lead,” said Ziad Abdel Samad, Executive Director of the Arab NGO Network for Development (Lebanon).

Committee members commended UNDP for the choice of equity and sustainability as the focus for the 2011 Human Development Report (HDR), offering potential for a rich and challenging dialogue on core development principles. “Through the HDR there was actually a complete reconfiguration of the way the world thinks about development,” said Ingrid Srinath, Secretary-General of CIVICUS (South Africa), calling on UNDP to continue to develop cutting-edge human development indicators. “UNDP should be the hub for new governance models that re-engineer the equation between state, market, and society.”

The nine civil society representatives who attended this year’s meeting on March 24-25 are part of the Civil Society Advisory Committee to UNDP, which is composed of 15 leaders from several parts of the world. The Committee was created in 2000 to advise UNDP senior management on key areas, such as democratic governance, human rights, gender equality, environmental sustainability, the Human Development Report and the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) – eight internationally-agreed goals which seek to alleviate poverty by 2015.

More information about the UNDP Civil Society Advisory Committee

About UNDP’s work with civil society organizations