All actors must contribute if we are to reach the goals set out in the 2030 Agenda. Civil society will be crucial: it is clear that if civil society is active at the national level, with the means and space to act, it will play a vital role in reaching the SDGs. It is the responsibility of governments to reach these goals, and to respect and promote civil and political rights. It is civil society’s responsibility, however, to contribute to this effort and to be accountable for its actions in doing so. One of its key roles will be to act as a watchdog, making sure that governments fulfil their commitments to the SDGs.
The findings of this report show that civil society’s contribution at the national level will be vital in all countries of the world. However, a look at the nine countries in the High-Level Group shows that their degree of engagement varies, and that not all members of civil society are able to urge their governments to deliver on the 2030 Agenda, because they face legislative and other obstacles introduced by those same governments. The complex and integrated nature of the agenda requires civil society to work together across thematic areas as well as across local and national borders.
The civil society group on the High-Level Group on the 2030 Agenda is one successful example of how civil society organizations can come together, strengthen each other and speak together in a strong voice. The current situation in Brazil, as described in the case study, is therefore our shared concern, and we will watch what happens, supporting our colleagues there in keep the space they have fought for over so many years.
We therefore recommend that civil society:
- Work in solidarity, by collaborating and building alliances across thematic areas and borders. Civil society worldwide must support CSOs in those countries where civil and political freedoms are restricted.
- The members of civil society who are working on the 2030 Agenda must take responsibility for ensuring that the grassroots are kept informed and are able to contribute in a meaningful way. This means building strong collaboration between CSOs at the national level, making sure that organized civil society is well connected to the grass roots, in a relationship that is built on mutual support and the exchange of information and ideas.