Advocating sustainable, fair policies and meaningful CSO participation

When institutions such as development banks, UN departments or governments design policies that aim to protect the environment and people who rely on natural resources, they often forget to ensure the meaningful participation of civil society. So despite the good intentions, sometimes the impact of these policies or plans is negligible, or even adverse. Therefore, we do our best to give our civil society partners from the Global South a seat at the table.

This led to some remarkable successes in 2017. For example, the Dutch dredging company Van Oord started talking to local communities in Suape, Brazil, and in Jakarta, Indonesia local fishermen organised themselves and halted the controversial Jakarta Bay project. The Dutch development bank FMO held a civil society consultation and reviewed its social and environmental policies thereafter.

Another good example that shows the importance of CSO participation in decisionmaking processes is the contribution by Both ENDS and other Drynet members at the 13th Conference of the Parties of the UNCCD (UN Convention to Combat Desertification). We developed a mutual advocacy strategy in order to make the voice of civil society heard at the UNCCD in the future. We advocated against CSOs being sidelined and managed to have their role included in the preamble of and the decision on the UNCCD Strategic Framework 2018-2030.

Our efforts also helped to get gender equality and the empowerment of women, girls and youth included in the Strategic Framework. Furthermore, Both ENDS and Drynet supported the implementation of the Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests in the Context of National Food Security (VGGTs).

The VGGTs focus on land tenure, which is crucially important in the fight against desertification and land degradation. Access, ownership and control of land are key to successfully implementing sustainable land management and restoration.

Thanks to the efforts of Drynet members and many other CSOs, the UNCCD Strategic Framework now acknowledges the importance of the VGGTs in the combat against desertification and land degradation. Read more about our activities and results at the UNCCD COP13.


Ana Di Pangracio of FARN (Argentina) speaking at UNCCD COP 13 (photo IISD)