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- Concept Note for South-South Civil Society Conclave 17-18 Dec 2018 1.pdf (346.0K) 3download DATE : 2018-11-21 15:30:40
South-South Civil Society Conclave on Development Cooperation
17-18 December 2018 New Delhi, India
Development Cooperation around the world promotes and accords a legitimate space for Civil Society Organizations (CSO) to liaise with multilaterals, financial institutions and bilateral agencies. Participation of Civil Society Organizations in Development Cooperation is the key driver for providing the pulse on needs and requirements of diverse geographies, communities and beneficiaries that ultimately results in achieving policy objectives. As the global world moves towards expansionism in multi-stakeholder participation for targeting development goals, Civil Society becomes a proactive vehicle to provide alternative perspectives, strengthening accountability mechanisms, reviewing social frameworks and augmenting productivity of programs, schemes and projects. A notable trend recorded in many multilateral institutions is the deepening of engagement processes with Civil Society, which have made the sector an important factor for tackling new generation of development challenges. Many of these issues are at the heart of the evolving stronger relationships among institutions, governments and CSOs which facilitates a triangulated cooperation.
Increasing Regional Cooperation among Governments
Over the last few years’ strategic development cooperation among countries such as Bhutan, Bangladesh, India and Nepal has increased crystallizing in the commencement of large-scale industrial projects, investments and strengthening trade and commerce. Through the deployment of various regional cooperation groupings there was an initiation of a formal process to achieve economic integration in the region, creating commercial linkages and work towards achieving diplomatic objectives. In 2016, the BBIN regional cohort came into being as a sub-regional architecture of countries in Eastern South Asia that focuses to formulate, implement and review quadrilateral agreements across areas in water resources management, connectivity of power, transport, and infrastructure. Likewise the Bay of Bengal Multi- Sectoral Trade and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) came into being that would serve promoting cohesive trade and technology exchange between India and Eastern South Asian countries. Proximity between ASEAN and South Asia countries has also taken a different shape, building on shared mutual
aspirations through increasing economic cooperation resulting in a host of agreements and partnerships that are redefining the region’s shared prosperity agenda. However despite growth reaching zeniths there are huge obstacles in areas of water and sanitation, energy access, agricultural productivity and future climate change risks and is a prime example of growing regional disparities. With more than 441 million inhabitants, Eastern South Asia is home to 6% of the world's population and 25% of South Asia's population. However development indicators in this region provide a host of challenges with the number of economically disadvantaged forming a huge laggard in the envisioned growth zone. While the groupings aim to be the wheels for promoting stronger economic integration, the penultimate objective lies in strengthening foreign policy objectives of positioning India’s strategic interests. However concerns mount when economic considerations overweigh human rights and sustainable development issues, where civil society can play a key role in providing critical inputs for designing policy objectives of these groupings. Regional Cooperation cannot be imagined without seamless connectivity and it is universally experienced that economic corridors always include an issue of displacement of local populations and weak mitigation actions for unintentional climate change affects. Similarly multilateral groupings often tend to ignore gender sensitive policies; given the exploitation of women across trading routes and corridors is a serious concern that needs solution based integrated approach with member countries. It is on this context that Civil Society in South Asia needs to collectively pitch in for creating a robust forum to track development cooperation objectives of these various South Asian groupings and create assessment tools that would aid in promoting regional cooperation.
Civil Society’s Participation
Civil Society inclusion in processes and mechanisms of development cooperation become imperative for realizing an efficacious regional-economic cohort in the sub-regional perspective. Many a times, the engagement level for development cooperation is circumscribed to Governments with Civil Society not finding due space for participation. Such gaps in participation can cause policy misalignment considering that Civil Society has had a major role in pushing forward development-centric and people driven legislations. It is envisioned that South-South Civil Society Conclave can be a potent platform for addressing the modalities required for a civil society perspective on development cooperation in the region since the level of engagement between countries has attained momentum. It is intended that a conclave on this format can be a trigger for nurturing sensitivity on inclusive participation through a comprehensive South-South triangulation that promotes regionalization and multi-stakeholder participation and provides requisite channels for advocacy. The conclave will also solicit the participation of Civil Society Organizations from Bangladesh, Bhutan, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Nepal & ASEAN countries who will learn and share their experiences from interfacing with their respective Governments in the area of Development Cooperation. It is also an intended that the conclave will act as a collectivized forum for providing the primer for Southern-centric Civil Society leadership in the sub-region and work on preparing country strategies for regional cooperation.
The region’s civil society has a rich experience of participating at multilaterals which have shadowed the Government-Government agendas but there exist no arena for structured discussion and interfacing with respective governments and missing C2C exchange when it comes to Development Cooperation. Additionally there has to be a critical examination of engagement strategies with multilaterals such as on G20-C20 whether Civil Society engagement has lived up to its expectations or requires a renewed approach. Notably Civil Society platforms for dialogue and discussion need activation in regional forums that mirror Multilateral Development Banks such as Asian Development Bank and World Bank which
have dedicated space for Civil Society Advocacy. As an apex body of Civil Society Organizations in India, VANI aims to convene this conclave by virtue of its unique network of 550 CSO’s across India, its fraternal relations with CSOs from East Asia, South-East and Eastern South Asia and being the legitimate voice of policy dialogue on India’s Civil Society advocacy with the Government of India.
Format of the Conclave
The Conclave will be divided in two parts with the first day being a preparatory meeting focusing on collectivizing Civil Society Organizations across India to be sensitized, capacitated and informed about structure, purpose and objective of the conclave and the important role of Civil Society in India’s development cooperation. The participants will range from 100-120 VANI member Civil Society Organizations. The second meeting will include participation of Civil Society Organizations from India, Eastern South Asia and South-East Asia, Government of India representatives, Academicians and Think Tanks and will focus on the broader objectives and engagement strategy in development cooperation on the new regional formations and existing global multilateral platforms.
Assessing Civil Society participation and inclusion in Development Cooperation dynamics of South-Asia, South-East Asia and Eastern Asia for comprehensive South-South Cooperation.
Mutual exploration of strategic collaborations between Civil Society, Government and Regional formations
Review of Civil Society engagement in existing multilateral platforms such G20-C20.