X Civil Society Development Forum

November 30, 2021

Opening address by Dafina Gercheva, UNDP Resident Representative in Ukraine, 30 November 2021

Excellencies, dear leaders, and representatives of civil society,  

On behalf of the UNDP, I am delighted to welcome you to the 10th Civil Society Development Forum.  

I would like to congratulate the organisers of this event, on the successful mobilization of civic activism around fulfilling people’s aspirations for building just, fair, inclusive, prosperous, and peaceful society. The Civil Society Development Forum has become the largest national platform for inter-sectoral dialogue, where the exchange of ideas and learning of best practices are flourishing.  

This year, the Forum is dedicated to the 30th Anniversary of Ukraine’s independence. The focus of our discussions will be on the role of civil society in building democracy, protecting human rights, strengthening social cohesion and national unity. According to the Freedom House Nations in Transit 2021 report, civil society in Ukraine remains “the principal guardian of Ukraine’s democratic development”.  

Over the past 30 years many CSOs have become powerful platforms for improving the lives of Ukrainians through advocating for change, making government more accountable, engaging citizens, and giving a voice to the most vulnerable.

Dear Participants,

We are living in challenging times. While we are making progress worldwide in a number of important dimensions of the Sustainable Development Goals, such as: reduction of poverty and maternal and child mortality; improvement of basic education; expansion of the access to public services, and much more. We are also facing complex and formidable challenges.

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, which is global, deadly, and multifaceted, is hitting hard on the fundamentals of human development: income, health, and education, and is further exacerbating vulnerabilities and inequalities. This is a challenging moment in our collective history — yet, these unforeseen events present all of us with an opportunity — to respond and help prevent and prepare for future shocks with a new paradigm and business model that go beyond the status quo.

The COVID-19 pandemic also exposed deep pre-existing rifts between the relatively comfortable and the most vulnerable – gaps that separated people along lines of digital access, income, gender, class, ethnicity, and education.  It is therefore important to recall that mainstreaming the Sustainable Development Goals in the national and sub-national policies, development plans and budgets is a fundamental pre-requisite for a sustainable recovery and equitable and inclusive human development going forward. We must focus our efforts on ensuring that no one is left behind as the country moves forward, or the country may fall back in response to a future shock.

Recovering forward from COVID-19 emergency better and greener, advancing sustainable development and enhancing Ukraine’s prosperity, stability and resilience call for “whole-of-government” and “whole-of-society” approach.  The role of civil society to steer and accelerate social transformation is critical and indispensable!

Collective and decisive efforts are required here and now to enable civil society to thrive. 

In closing, I would like to wish you very productive, animated, and constructive deliberations.

I am confident that the Forum will serve as a powerful platform for learning and knowledge sharing, networking, and engaging around building a better future for all Ukrainians.  

Thank you!