Thank you for this opportunity to address all of you in Brussels.
Civil society organizations are playing critical roles in response to the Syria crisis, both inside Syria and in neighboring countries.
Your organisations are not only a source of hope for the scores of people still suffering, but also a critical resource. The services you provide, whether access to basic social services, livelihood programmes, addressing child labour and marriage, or supporting civil documentation, provide much needed cohesion and stability for these people. And you do all of this in Syria while under the constant threat of conflict.
As the international community looks to move beyond humanitarian assistance to address longer-term challenges in countries like Jordan and Lebanon, civil society organizations will remain important partners. These organizations give voice to the voiceless as a greater emphasis is placed on addressing longer term development challenges and reforms which need to be premised on inclusion, decent work and access to basic services for all - particularly in health and education.
Inside Syria, NGOs, CSOs and faith-based organisations already play important roles in providing support to affected populations from access to basic social services to livelihoods. However, they will increasingly need to spearhead stronger links across what have been the boundaries of conflict to date in order to foster long-term reconciliation and peacebuilding as the time becomes right.
In Jordan, UNDP works with civil society partners on a platform called“MATEEN” – a network of community based organizations now active in six Governorates. “MATEEN” in Arabic means strong, cohesive, and deep-rooted, and this network is designed to be the voice of the community on social cohesion. In Lebanon, civil society partners have been key to our peace building programme; and in Egypt to the implementation of local community development programme.
Inside Syria, we have engaged civil society partners as the main network for delivering our programme and are working increasingly with organisations from all sides.
UNDP remains highly committed to our partnership with civil society partners and recognizes their central role in response to the Syria crisis, and well as to achieving Agenda 2030 and the Sustainable Development Goals.
I am pleased that your deliberations will feed into the Ministerial session tomorrow, and I wish you all a very fruitful discussion today.