See also Participation
The 60th Annual DPI/NGO Conference
took place at UN Headquarters in New York from 5 to 7 September
2007. These conferences are the most important annual gathering
of NGOs in association with the ECOSOC or the United Nations
Department of Public Information (DPI) and have been held every
year since the founding of the UN. They are a unique opportunity
for NGOs to network with each other and directly influence
public policy BY STIMULATING EFFECTIVE ADVOCACY.
Despite the cost of travel, more than 1,800 representatives of
Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) from over 80 countries
attended roundtables and workshops during the three-day event in
order to review the scientific evidence on climate change,
including its consequences on indigenous peoples, water
security, land use and the politics of energy -- and make
recommendations on solutions.
Organized by DPI in collaboration with the NGO/DPI Executive
Committee, the Conference also crafted a
Framework for Action which was drafted
by the current leadership of climatecaucus in partnership with
the rest of the conference prticipants. This inspiring document set out the
consensus view of the participants on the threat of catastrophe
posed by climate change and called on participants to take
ACTION to mitigate - and in some cases - reverse the effects of
this environmental crisis.
To achieve that aim, the Declaration called for a framework for
action, which consisted of a Report to the Secretary-General,
which will set out the views of the NGO community; but also a
permanent discussion between NGOs, a network effect organized
through working groups. You are invited to join the process,
which continued into 2009 and will continue into 2010 and
beyond. There was a specific call for climatecaucus to
emerge as a distinct NGO to service the world.
Why Civil Society
NGOs have been influencing public policy through direct advocacy
for action since before the founding of the UN. In fact, it was
the discussion of NGOs that truly led to the League of Nations
and the UN as expressions of the world's public for peace
instead of war as a solution to conflict. It has not always been
easy for NGOs to adequately deal with the forces of governments
and commerce, as was seen at UNCTAD II in 1968 when they were
largely ignored. But in 1972 the Stockholm conference on the
environment marked a change. NGOs met in parallel sessions with
government and UN leaders. Over 25 United Nations conferences
have followed that model since 1972, including the World
Conference on Disaster Reduction (WCDR) in 2005 during which
40,000 private citizens participated in a variety of forums.
30,000 women from 4,000 NGOs participated in Beijing in 1995.
The Second World Conference on the Environment in Rio in 1992
saw a massive NGO presence, followed by a participation of
30,000 in Johannesburg in 2002. What is important however isn't
the impressive growth in participation; rather it is the growth
in trust that governments and the UN provide civil society --
totally different from UNCTAD II. Policy makers care about what
we have to say, even at the level of the Security Council, which
invited NGO officials to participate in the discussions on the
Great Lakes disaster.
The 60th DPI/NGO Conference and the effort to implement its
Declaration was another opportunity for NGOs to make a difference
across political, economic, geographic and social lines -- to
outline practical observations about the impact of climate
change, what we can do about it, and what we recommend be done
by international organizations and governments. Now that we
completed the initial mandate, we need you to
continue to be part of this effort, to help us craft action plans for the
future, because the need is great -- nothing less than saving
our planet. If you can't be in New York, do not worry.
We are prepared to represent you.