© UBDF 2019

By Deirdre de Burca, Forus Advocacy Co-ordinator 

Ulaanbaatar – February 2019 

I wrote this article from Ulaanbaatar in Mongolia where I was representing Forus at the Glocal Advocacy Leadership Academy (GALA), training being run by the Asia Development Alliance (ADA), the Forus Regional Coalition in Asia.  

The focus of the training was “Integrating Peace and Human Rights into Civil Society Engagement with SDGs in Mongolia”. This event was followed by three days of the Ulaanbaatar Democracy Forum which is a Regional Consultation on “Promoting Democracy, Human Rights and Peace through SDG 16+: Towards Peaceful, Just and Inclusive Societies in Asia.” 

The Asia Development Alliance organised the GALA training for NGO networks across Asia and supported the Ulaanbaatar Democracy Forum. Forus provided financial support to these important regional civil society capacity development events. 

The programme for both events included a range of important and interesting speakers including Ambassador Enkhsaikhan, Blue Banner about the PyeongChangGlobal Peace Forum (PGPF) 2019, H.E. Mr. D. Tsogtbaatar, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mongolia, a representative from the Government of South Korea, Mr. Thomas E. Garrett, Secretary General, Community of Democracies (CoD) and Ms. Beate Trankmann, UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative in Mongolia.

After having spent five days spent attending both events, I have met a huge range of CSO networks from different parts of Asia including Mongolia, Malaysia, Indonesia, Pakistan, Timor Leste, Kazakstan, Japan, Nepal, Sri Lanka, South Korea, and Cambodia, amongst others. I have been very positively struck by the level of co-ordination and networking that is taking place between CSOs across this region linked to the Sustainable Development Goals.  

I have also been struck by the very important role that our regional coalition partner ADA has played in helping to bring together these CSO networks from different countries in the region and providing them with high quality training on different aspects of the SDGs. The focus of the training on this occasion has been Goal 16 of the SDGs which deals with issues of Peace, Democracy, Human Rights, Governance, Human Security and Justice.  

Indeed Forus, ADA and the TAP network have agreed to collaborate over the coming months to produce a Global Spotlight Report on Goal 16 of the SDGs that will include national case studies from our civil society members across different regions. This report will be launched at the UN High Level Political Forum (HLPF) in New York in July 2019. 

The enthusiasm and overall engagement of Asian CSOs who have been attending the GALAA training and the Democracy Forum here in Ulaanbaatar has been extremely impressive. Given the widespread public cynicism about formal politics that seems to affect so many countries across the world, the passion, vision and enthusiasm of these civil society organisations as they discuss the challenges and opportunities surrounding the implementation of the SDGs in their countries is very inspiring indeed. I have listened with great interest as the Asian CSOs present have shared intelligence and collectively strategized about how best to ensure the implementation of the SDGs in their region. 

There is clearly a huge appetite amongst civil society organisations globally to see the ambitious and potentially transformative agenda of the SDGs implemented in their countries and at the level of their local communities. Of course, civil society alone cannot realise the transformative vision of the SDGs without the co-operation of governments everywhere, and indeed the co-operation of a range of other stakeholders including the private sector. 

Forus is committed to working closely with regional coalition partners like ADA on relevant policy and advocacy work to secure proper financial support and capacity development for civil society globally to fulfil the critical role it can play in realising the positive and transformative vision of the Sustainable Development Goals.  

It is clear that the SDGs won’t be achieved across the world without the support of an active, engaged and well- resourced civil society sector. I am happy to say that the events I have attended in Mongolia this past week have convinced me that civil society is already successfully mobilising and showing leadership in the implementation and monitoring of this important and timely global agenda of sustainable development.  

Forus will continue to work with all of its civil society partners at global regional and national levels to make sure that this important work is properly resourced and supported.