Freshwater Action Network
– grassroots influencing on water and sanitation

Filling the gaps at the UN civil society consultation on the MDGs

Lajana Manandhar

The following is a guest post from Lajana Manandhar, FANSA steering committee member and Country Convenor of FAN Nepal pictured right, about her participation at the UN civil society consultation on the Millennium Development Goals

This is the first time that I am writing to share with you my feelings after participating and speaking at the UN civil society hearing on the Millennium Development Goals (MGDs) in the General Assembly (14 – 15 June 2010).  Let me sum up my feelings in a few key points for your clear understanding on my experience from the Hearing.

Very little talk of sanitation and slum issues

Most of you must be well aware that a total of 52 speakers, representing various civil society networks and the private sector were selected out of the 760 applicants, to speak at the UN General Assembly. The selected speakers made statements in the four sessions over two days. What amazed me was that, in all of the statements made, very few – I think only four or five speakers – mentioned water and sanitation issues and then only briefly. Even fewer touched upon the slum issues in the urban area.

Educating others about water as a cross-cutting theme

If I was not there, water and sanitation in general and urban slum needs specifically would have been completely missed out from the discussion. The hot topic repeatedly touched upon by most of the speakers were gender equality, human rights, governance (transparency), aid effectiveness, climate change, agriculture (food security) etc.

For me it was clear that water and sanitation and slum issues are not in the core of the heart of the many civil society leaders. So my first learning from the hearing was – we have not done enough to  educate, network or work with our own fellow civil society organizations to contribute in influencing for the achievement of MDG 7 Target 10 or reflect this agenda as a cross cutting theme throughout all the MDG goals.

100 missing member states – why?
Around 70 member states turned up to listen to the hearings. But that still left more than 100 states not in attendance. I’m told this is normal for the UN. But that was the most disappointing part of the hearing for the people like us who actually came to make the member states listen.

Why they did not come, we do not know. We can just make wild guesses for their absence from the informal interactive hearing on MDGs. What else can we do? The Task Force, set up by the President of the General Assembly to assist and prepare for this hearing, has worked tirelessly for the last three months to make this event take place. Member states had the opportunity to hear from a range of civil society organizations carefully selected to ensure representation from all the corners of the globe and diverse experiences  and hear their views, frustrations, insights and recommendations on the MDGs to ensure as much progress is made over the next five years by 2015, the MGD deadline!

But so many member states thought this was not important enough an opportunity to participate and interact with the people who are working hard on the ground to make the UN goals, our common goals, achieved as much as possible.  Probably they think that they knew too much, they have the solutions and they don’t need to hear any more.  Probably they thought that they will read the report and not waste time in sitting in the hearing…

… Oh!  I had a chat with Merlie Mendoza, one of the speakers from Philippines, about the low interest shown by the member states in the hearing. We both shared a similar feeling. Aren’t our governments paying these representatives based in New York to represent the nations in the UN Meetings? And how do they report back to their governments? Whatever it is, this just shows that we have a long and difficult way to go, to make our own governments take the MDGs in the core of their hearts including MDG Goal 7 Target 10.

Comment from Wordpress blog where this was originally posted:

lumanti Says:

A good one ……………..Very powerful voice, Lajana di!!!! Congratulations..

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