Support to Africa Working Group on SDGs/Post 2015 and Financing for Development

For the past two years The Africa Platform Initiative has been actively engaged with the Global process that is intended to lead to a new development framework, known as the Sustainable Development Goals and the Post 2015 agenda. While the engagement has been at various levels, the most intensive has been the Intergovernmental discussions and negotiations in New York, involving UN member

The engagement of Civil Society and member states, unlike past development processes, provided a rare opportunity to influence both the process and the outcome of the Sustainable development Goals.

Civil Society engagement with the SDG agenda was primarily restricted to two formal processes- online input and a one hour meeting with the Co-Chairs of the Intergovernmental process on the SDG an hour before the main discussions.

Our support to the Africa Working Group has focused on the following areas:

In June 2014, Civil Society from Africa, with the support of the Africa Platform Initiative supported 14 Africa CSO leaders to travel to New York to engage directly with member states, primarily African diplomats who are directly engaged in the negotiations.

This was an unprecedented move, and a bold one by African Civil Society for three reasons.

First it was the first time that a non-European delegation was going to engage directly with the member states as one collective group.

Secondly it was the first time that the main target was our own African diplomats.

Finally it was the first time that the engagement was based on a three-pronged strategy-listening to the concerns of  Government, sharing discreetly the  first and only African Civil Society Position  on the SDGs while also seeking to build personal relationships with as many governments as possible.

The delegation managed to accomplish what many CSOs had only thought about. In addition to meeting over 15 Senior African Diplomats, the team held sessions with almost the entire top UN leadership of the Post 2015 agenda as well as several other European Diplomats who are central to the Post 2015 agenda. Other meetings were held with CSOs in New York who are actively engaged in the Post 2015 and SDG agenda.

The relationships and discussions have led to several other engagements. UNDP was able to follow up with an active engagement with the team that has continued to date. Discussions with African diplomats led to invitations to share our concerns with the Africa Union and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA).

In July part of the delegation were back in New York, this time to meet with selected African diplomats.

And in September a section of the Africa Working Group was in New York to meet additional governments and UN personnel during the United Nations General Assembly.

The Africa Union and the coalition of African Diplomats in New York (known as Africa Group) has since invited the AWG to be more strategically engaged in supporting three areas of engagement in the Global Post 2015 process- linking the SDG agenda with the Africa 2063 Strategic Plan, collective advocacy on key areas of common interest, including accountability, and the development of an implementation strategy for the final goals, due to be agreed upon by all member states in September 2015

Global Engagement on Civil Society Advocacy in Africa

This project was implemented in three stages.

The first stage was a series of telephone interviews with selected members of the AWG who were part of the engagements in New York in 2014. The intention of an interview process is to reach those who may not eventually be available for the second stage, while also capturing some key lessons that may not be covered in the second stage of the discussions. It is intended to bring out reflections on both process and personal experiences with engagement.

The second stage involved a facilitated face-to-face meeting with the AWG participants.

This was a session for active learning, sharing and capturing of some key opportunities emerging from the experiences of these CSO leaders. It acted as a session to lay out a strategy for the next eight months of the SDG agenda.

Finally interviews were held with selected government leaders who are part of the on-going intergovernmental process and have had considerable interaction with Civil Society over the past two years. Specifically it targeted those that are at the leadership of the SDG agenda.

The engagement will involve three groups of AWG membership

  1. Senior level experience- Those who engaged at a senior level from their own organizations and were therefore looking at the engagement from a more strategic rather than process view-
  2. Process engagement- These are the individuals who engaged at a strategy level, but were keener on influencing the process and delivering outcomes for their own organizations and the AWG.
  3. The final category is the people who were doing the ground work-the planning, setting the appointments, and deciding who was worth meeting.

The Global Report from the engagement will be launched in September 2015 during the UNGA Session in New York. The videos from the interviews are available at the Commonwealth Foundation website.