written by Jyotsna Mohan, regional coordinator, Asia Development Alliance (ADA)
Asia Development Alliance (ADA) along with Asia Democracy network (AND), Communities of Democracy (CoD), Centre for Human Rights and Development (CHRD) and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Global Alliance for Reporting Progress on Peaceful Justice and Inclusive Societies organised the Ulaanbaatar Democracy Forum from 26 to 28 February 2019 at Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, under the theme “Promoting Peace, Human Rights and Democracy through Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 16+ - Peaceful, Just and Inclusive Societies in Asia and beyond.” The SDG 16+ indicates that SDG 16 is a stand-alone goal itself but need to be implemented as an integral part of the SDGs in connection with other goals in particular cross-cutting goals.
The main objectives of the UBDF 2019, are:
i) to review and share good practices of Asian governments and CSOs’ engaged in implementation and monitoring of the SDGs in particular the goal 16+,
ii) to strengthen collaboration and partnerships among multi- stake holders such as the government, international organizations, public institutions, CSOs, private business, etc. on goal 16+,
iii) to develop an action plan in preparation for the UN Asia Pacific Forum on Sustainable Development (Bangkok, 27-29 March), UN High Level Political Forum (HLPF) (9-15 July) and SDGs Summit during the UN General Assembly (24-25 Sept.) with focuses on goal 16+.
The three days’ workshop deliberated the issues of implementation, monitoring and review mechanism of agenda 2030 by the UNESCAP, UNDP, members states and civil society organizations. The workshop also discussed linking human rights with peace, gender, environment and various thematic issues apart from the issue of shrinking and expanding spaces of the civil society. One of the important deliberations was on integrate sustaining peace in the implementation of the SDGs through an international peace agenda such as the UN SG’s Agenda for Disarmament and PCAP 2030.
The forum was attended by over 100 participants from over 16 countries all over the world including Deirdre de Burca, Forus Advocacy Co-ordinator. During the two-day long forum, approximately 120+ participants from 41 countries including 30+ Mongolian participants attended the meetings. UBDF2019 was a great opportunity to review and share good practices of Asian governments and CSOs engaged in implementation and monitoring of the SDGs in particular the goal 16+, and to develop an action plan in preparation for the UN Asia Pacific Forum on Sustainable Development (Bangkok, 27-29 March), UN High Level Political Forum (HLPF) (9-15 July) and SDGs Summit during the UN General Assembly (24-25 Sept.) with focuses on goal 16+.
The key trends identified during the three days events were:
a) declining democratic and human rights values,
b) shrinking civic space and rising inequality. The key challenges, opportunities identified were, facilitating regional coordination, supporting formal framework for CSO-government engagement and enhancing capacity on SDGs across nations and regions around the globe, apart from strengthening review and monitoring process, and instutionalising SDG 16 as a global cross cutting priority together with SDG 17, bridging the data gap and raising public awareness and advocacy.