Report written by Dafne Murillo, Cross-cultural Youth Exchange Fellow
New York, NY (July, 2019) – During the HLPF week, the NGO Major Group annual meeting took place. This was an opportunity for the heads of different NGOs across the world to get together and discuss the successes and challenges of the group, as well as strategize moving forward how to best serve their constituencies. One of the main themes was the creation of horizontal interlinking between NGOs and other major groups that have a shared mission. For instance, NGOs working towards the empowerment of women could join with the civic society groups representing feminist organizations across the world. This followed a conversation about how to better localize NGO efforts to guarantee strong community participation. Such action requires building cohesive partnerships between regional and local NGOs, as well as making sure that we, as NGO representatives, are doing the best we can to achieve accessibility. For me, this means making sure the language we are using is accessible and transparent. A clear example that came up was the use of the UN-jargon; for instance, when we talk about Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the 2030 Agenda. How many people in underserved communities have access to this language? Something I noticed by sitting at the table of this NGO Major Group meeting was the lack of diversity in the room. There was a concerning lack of POCs, despite the fact that a lot of these NGOs were doing work in communities of color. This made me wonder, how are NGOs excluding the most vulnerable voices of their own constituencies from the conversation by adhering to the UN’s inaccessible terminology? On this note, TDN founder Ariel Rojas urged the heads of NGOs to take into consideration the cultural aspects of implementation when working on the ground and to include the small NGOs that often cannot participate because of their size or lack of familiarity with UN technicalities.
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