Thursday, 12 December 2013

A good mix of stakeholders and a spirit of inclusivity? How the first post-2015 Geneva Dialogue left me buzzing

Friday 29 November 2013, Palais des Nations, Room XXVI, 10:00 am in Geneva 

I walk into an already bustling room mostly filled with Ambassadors and other diplomats standing or seating behind their country’s name plates and enjoying a chat before the session starts. 

I immediately spot her.

Amina J. Mohammed, Special Adviser to the United Nations Secretary-General on Post-2015 Development Planning. I also recognise Arancha Gonzalez, the new head of ITC. These are two of the women that I admire the most in the multilateral system. They are in conversation with other speakers gathered around the small perimeter near the podium. 

Stephen Hale of Oxfam International is also there, as are high level representatives of the WTO, of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development and a lady CEO of a Panama-based food company. They will soon be joined by Guy Rider, the ILO’s  Director General. They are gathered here today upon the invitation of Dr Mukhisa Kituyi, the new Secretary General of UNCTAD

I stand there for a moment looking at the scene and taking it all in. I love get-togethers, even if only as an observer. I walk towards colleagues already seated at the edges of the room, where we, (civil) servants ordinarily sit. We exchange a few words of greetings and soon the meeting starts.

Dr Kituyi’s warm voice reminds the audience of the purpose of the meeting, the first Geneva dialogue on the Post-2015 development agenda. He wants personal opinions, an atmosphere of dialogue, no country or regional positions, he says. The latter, he advises, can be taken to the Open Working Party in New York. He stresses from the outset that in contributing to shaping “the critical narrative that will shape development for the next twenty years”, the Geneva dialogues are meant to “give oxygen to substantial, horizontal engagement” involving trade institutions, the business community and civil society.

In the three hours that follow, most speakers from the podium and from the floor stick to his indications. Amina Mohammed speaks passionately about the need for the next development agenda to keep the emphasis on impact at the country level. “This will have to be a transformational agenda”, she hammers on. “It must make economic sense, business sense, and moral sense. It must connect people to decent livelihoods and decent jobs.” Jobs, trade, SMEs, inclusiveness of the process and real influence on final content. These are the issues that are brought to the fore.

It is 1pm. The exchanges come to an end.

I feel excited, energized and a strong sense of belonging. Though there have been other consultations on the Post-2015 development agenda in Geneva, the Dialogue is the first one of its kind. Time will tell us what its influence will be. I walk past colleagues who have worked hard on making the event a success and stop to offer some words of congratulations. Back to my office, I pick up the draft I was working on, stare back at my computer, but cannot help pondering about the power of multistakeholder gatherings.

The room was full and stayed full all of that morning because that is what a good mix of governments, businesses and civil society do to meetings. Plus, they make them livelier. I have had the privilege to be part of teams in which we strive to make such mixes a cornerstone of all engagements at country, regional and international levels. We use a needs-based approach to allow everyone involved at every level feel ownership of our work. 

It is this spirit of inclusiveness that creates the buzz, the excitement, and ultimately, the momentum that we help generate when advocating for policy change for Sustainable Development, with a big D.

Everything I say in my occasional blog posts and comments is in a personal capacity. You can follow me on Twitter at @milasoa

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.