Civil society, COVID-19 and the UN’s Decade of Action – Invitation and programme

Date: 8 July 2020

Time: 2-3.30pm CEST / 8-9.30am EDT

Location: This side event will be held online. Details for connection will be shared with all registered participants. Participation is limited and will be granted on a first come first served basis.

Registration: Please register here before 7 July 2020, 4pm CEST/10am EDT.


We are at a decisive moment for the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals with the UN launching the Decade of Action to make sure we realise the SDGs by 2030 while governments and civil society are grappling with the impacts of the COVID-19 crisis. This side event will explore the crucial role played by civil society organisations in guaranteeing a ‘whole of society’ approach in both the SDG monitoring and review process around Voluntary National Reviews (VNRs) as well as for the recovery measures after COVID-19.

Civil society participation ensures that all voices are heard and that women, young people as well as particularly vulnerable groups are adequately involved so as to live up to the principle of leaving no one behind. This side event will provide you with an opportunity to exchange about civil society’s role in working towards policy coherence for sustainable development and bringing transformative change during the Decade of Action.



Moderator: Patrizia Heidegger, SDG Watch Europe/European Environmental Bureau

Opening speech

Karoline Edtstadler, Federal Minister for the EU and Constitution at the Federal Chancellery, Austria

Setting the scene: Global trends on CSO participation in SDG political processes
Shannon Kindorney, Forus/Canadian Council for International Cooperation

Experience sharing in break-out groups
Break-out Group 1: VNRs – best-practices and lessons learned for meaningful CSO engagement
Input from: Lisa Weinberger, SDG Watch Austria; Lubna Sayed Qadri,Wada Na Todo Abhiyaan
Facilitator: Nadège Lharaig, European Environmental Bureau

Break-out Group 2: SDGs as the compass for COVID-19 measures – how to ensure civil society is not sidelined
Input from: Prof Comfort Onifade, Civil Society Coalition for Sustainable Development; Marta Iglesias, Futuro en Común
Reaction from: Cillian Lohan, European Economic and Social Committee
Facilitator: Marie-Luise Abshagen, German NGO Forum on Environment and Development

Break-out Group 3: Cross-sectoral coalitions as amplifiers to have all voices heard
Input from: Florence Syevuo Kenya SDGs Forum; Marie-Laure Vercambre, French Water Partnership
Facilitator: Sylvie Bénard, Association 4D

Discussion with government representatives
Ione Belarra, State Secretary for the 2030 Agenda, Spain
Antonella Mei-Pochtler, Head of Strategy Unit Think Austria, Special Advisor to the Federal Chancellor, Austria
Rose Keff, Office of the Special Adviser to the President on SDGs, Nigeria
Representative of the French government
CSOs representatives of the break-out groups
Summary and closure of the side event

For more information:

Khaled Diab

Acting communications manager