Today Brenda King, president of the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC)'s Sustainable Development Observatory (SDO) presented the EESC's recently adopted opinion A European Sustainable Development Civil Society Forum to a meeting of the Council of the EU gathering together three preparatory bodies - the Working Party on International Environmental Issues, the UN Working Party and the Working Party on Development Cooperation. The main focus of the meeting was the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
The opinion was requested by the Dutch presidency of the EU following an EESC recommendation to set up an efficient mechanism to implement the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in the EU.
"The 2030 Agenda is a multi-stakeholder agenda. SDGs can only be implemented if civil society, businesses, trade unions, local communities and other stakeholders take an active role and ownership. The EESC has used the past year to investigate models for effective civil society involvement in sustainable development. We found that for the implementation and monitoring of the 2030 Agenda at EU level a mechanism for civil society involvement is missing", explained Brenda King.
The EESC's proposal is to set up a European Sustainable Development Forum. The Forum should be as inclusive as possible without compromising efficiency, involve high-level participants from the European Commission and invite representatives from the Council of the EU and the Parliament. It should be managed by a board with a majority of members from civil society and stakeholder organisations and some members from the Commission and the EESC itself. The Forum must be well embedded in the processes of SDG implementation, monitoring and review. It should be organised as a continuous working process and serve as a platform to discuss the design, set-up and arrangements of the EU framework for SDG implementation.
The idea was discussed in several intensive hearings with experts from civil society organisations and received broad support "Our main message is that such a Forum will be feasible and beneficial for both sides, the EU institutions and non-governmental stakeholders", argued Ms King. "The Committee would regard it as its own role to host this Sustainable Development Forum. As the facilitator the EESC would bring to the Forum its capacity to reach out to various interested parties and to ensure cross-sectoral integration.…Of course, we would like to set up this Forum in partnership with the European Commission. We hope we will be able to start this partnership soon ", she concluded.
She also called on the Council to support the EESC's proposal in its deliberations on resolutions on the 2030 Agenda.