C.S.Os and N.G.Os vital in decision making

Addressing the progress of commitments made to Small Island Developing States (S.I.D.S.) accelerated development involves looking deeply into many different facets of development.

At the S.A.M.O.A. Pathway multi-regional preparation meetings this week, one of those facets was the role of civil society and the private sector, and how they can affect change as genuine partners to government and to society at large.

A panel representing government, the Pacific Island Forum Secretariat (P.I.F.S.), non-government organisations and the private sector presented on how they see the issue, followed by questions from national delegates. 

Deputy Director of the Pacific Island Association of Non-Government Organisations (P.I.A.N.G.O.), Emeline Siale Ilolahia, said civil societies can go where Government simply can’t always go.

“Civil societies need to be in the middle of the conversation about who we are, and how we live,” Ms. Ilohahia said. 

She said it’s challenging for civil society organisations (C.S.Os) to work in the inter-governmental space, but they are needed to influence policies. 

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The S.A.M.O.A. Pathway meetings saw many national representatives of C.S.Os and N.G.Os, as well as government diplomats. 

U.N.E.S.C.O. representative to the Pacific, Nisha facilitated the panel and discussion. Before opening the floor, she told the room how C.S.O’s are mediating voices in democracy.

“Civil society is the critical voice that gets the best out of society,” she said.

A delegate for the Maldives said how in a majority Muslim country, C.S.O’s are able to get up close and personal with groups of women and youth to talk about sexual and reproductive health in a way that government possibly couldn’t.

Secretary General of P.I.F.S, Dame Meg Taylor said the Pathway’s lofty goals will succeed only with institutional support, and with that comes accountability based on clear, agreed upon needs, especially as the discussions venture beyond inter-governmental.

“We need to anchor that accountability at a national, regional and global level,” she said.

Despite progress, Dame Taylor called for more awareness and proactive reporting and accountability to the S.A.M.O.A. Pathway partnerships.

“An accountability framework is the missing ingredient,” she said.

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