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Eighth Session of the UNGA Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals

Monday, 17 February 2014
The 8th Session of the United General Assembly Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals* was held from 3 to 7 of February 2014 and dealt with a group of thematic areas divided in three clusters: oceans and seas, forests and biodiversity – promoting equality, including social equity, gender equality and women’s empowerment – conflict prevention, post-conflict peace-building and the promotion of durable peace, rule of law and governance.

For this session, more than 120 statements and presentations upon the various thematic areas from the Major Groups and stakeholders were submitted.

Like all sustainable development processes convened under the UN, the OWG interfaces with non-state actors using the Major Groups structure defined in Agenda 21. Representatives from each of the nine Major Groups sectors were seated as official observers to the OWG sessions, and could flag the Co-Chairs to intervene in the discussions accordingly. Observers were usually given the floor to speak after political groups and governments have had a chance to intercede. Stakeholder interventions must be coordinated through the major groups organizing partners. The elected in the first session co-chairs of the OWG, Permanent Representatives of Hungary and Kenya to the UN, had in addition requested to hold open and inclusive meetings with major groups and other stakeholders the morning before each OWG session. The meetings were organized around the themes considered by the OWG on that day.
 
To facilitate the inclusive and transparent planning of these meetings, interested stakeholders were encouraged to join an open steering committee to organize each session. The work of the steering committee included selecting two panellists to make brief presentations to frame the issues, and compiling a speakers list for those who wish to follow up with reactions and brief interventions. The process for major groups and stakeholders begun with individual contributions or thematic outcomes via two e-based forums, the World We Want for thematic and national consultations and SDGs E-Inventory.

Main conclusions of the 8th UNGA OWG were that oceans, seas and forests are vital life-support systems and important elements of global biodiversity, where equity and peaceful societies are the basis for sustainable development while conflict prevention and post-conflict management should be integral components of sustainable development. The valuable contributions of Major Groups to the sessions’ discussions were also recognized by the Co-Chairs. One such contribution was the observation that a good business plan will be needed if any goals are to be achieved, and that means of implementation could be viewed as part of that plan. The Co-Chairs also noted as important the question raised by Major Groups as to how the High-Level Political Forum would be empowered to perform its important oversight function in monitoring progress towards the sustainable development goals.


Note
* The Open Working Group (OWG) was established on 22nd of January 2013 by decision 67/555 (see A/67/L.48/rev.1) of the General Assembly. The Member States have decided to use an innovative, constituency-based system of representation that is new to limited membership bodies of the General Assembly. This means that most of the seats in the OWG are shared by several countries. The OWG was mandated to hold eight sessions focusing on various thematic and cross-cutting issues on SDGs and to prepare a proposal on goals that will be coherent with the UN Development Agenda beyond 2015, which will be submitted to the 68th session of the GA. After the conclusion of its eight initial stocktaking sessions, OWG will proceed to five formal decision-making sessions that will take place from March through July 2014 with the purpose of presenting to the UNGA, by September 2014, its final report of recommendations for consideration


Source: UNDESA/ Economic and Social Development/ Sustainable Development Knowledge Platform
For further information:
http://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/index.php?menu=1565
http://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/content/documents/1692OWG_methods_work_adopted_1403.pdf
http://www.un.org/en/development/desa/news/sustainable/owg-at-transitional-moment.html
http://www.worldwewant2015.org/
http://sdgseinventory.org/



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