A sharing and planning meeting of Nepal SDGs Forum was held at the office of NGO Federation of Nepal (NFN) on 2 January 2020. The meeting was focused particularly on engagement of the civil society or NGOs/CSOs in the Voluntary National Review (VNR) process and the role on inclusive achievement of SDGs in general. The meeting was held in participation of government representatives, CSOs/NGOs, and INGOs.
The meeting started with a brief presentation by NFN's Deputy Secretary General Arjun Bhattarai. The presentation was an update of the national and international events and processes and how civil society is being engaged at regional and global levels. In addition, Executive Director of NFN, B.B. Thapa, shared that NFN has been representing civil society and CSOs in different forums and mechanisms of the government.
Firstly, being focused on the VNR, CSO leaders and individuals involved or interested in this process brainstormed or expressed their views. Dr. Padma Prasad Khatiwada, Sanjay Raj Neupane, Saloni Singh, Narendra Khatiwada, Rita Bastakoti, Benu Maya Gurung, Seema Luitel, Shyam Adhikari, Dr Netra Prasad Timsina, Bhakta B.K., Dr. Keshab Raj Khadka, Ganesh B.K., Shanta Laxmi Shrestha and Shanta Lall Mulmi expressed their views representing different networks, themes and areas of expertise.
Summing up the views expressed by the individuals as above, civil society/CSOs need to contribute to the government's initiatives for the VNR but it is essential that civil society's engagement enhances the inclusion and contributes to making sure that no one is left behind. Although different NGOs/CSOs as well as Major Groups and Other Stakeholders can come up with their specific focus and reviews, Nepal SDGs Forum will integrate all the inputs and perspectives of diverse cross-cutting themes and goals in the civil society report on VNR. This report will be the one and only common report of the civil society. However, there will be other complementary reports focused to particular themes and goals. These complementary reports may consist of analyses and fact sheets while avoiding duplications and overlaps. In fact, all the organizations and individuals will have an opportunity and contribute while maintaining coordination and synergy. The speakers have duly acknowledged that the civil society effort needs to be consolidated so that they are listened and are given due recognition. It was also highlighted that the VNR report shall be broader, 'political amalgamation' that will serve as an advocacy tool for civil society. At the same time, the private sector engagement in accelerating the achievement of SDGs was acknowledged.
Responding to these concerns and views, Hon'ble Member of National Planning Commission, Min Bahadur Shahi, shared and updated the policies, process and progress of the government on SDGs and specifically about SDGs. He advised all the NGOs/CSOs and networks to work in a coordinated way so that their efforts are consolidated and streamlined and it becomes convenient and practical for the government to give due consideration to the suggestions and recommendations. Only such consolidated report will bolster civil society position. Mentioning that NGO Federation of Nepal and National Cooperative Federation are representing in the National Steering Committee chaired by the Prime Minister, he said, government values the engagement of civil society. He informed that the Government is preparing a corporate social responsibility (CSR) framework. Finally, he urged everyone to "consolidate the CSO movement" and assured that thematic reports by CSOs will be considered by NPC.
Dr. Madhusudan Bhattarai from NPC advised that the CSO report on VNR should be submitted early on so that NPC will have time to incorporate it in government's report. He also advised to develop a civil society knowledge platform in order to facilitate learning and sharing, particularly on SDGs.
Finally, Chair of the meeting and NFN's President Jit Ram Lama assured that Nepal SDGs Forum will coordinate among all the thematically focused organizations, networks, and INGOs making sure that the VNR report is consolidated and inclusive.