Reflections from our Network Coordinator regarding the UN CSO Conference 2024

June 14, 2024

In the lead up to the Summit of the Future, scheduled for September, Civil society organizations gathered in Nairobi under the auspices of the United Nations to provide recommendations into the Pact of the Future and ongoing negotiations being led by the governments of Namibia and Germany. The GPI Network was well represented by various members including our Network Coordinator Wanjiru Kanyiha, who made a presentation on GPI as a pathway to financing SDGs. You can read more about the conference here and find her submissions here. We shall be fully engaged in the planning process in the lead up to the Summit for the Future and we call upon all members of the Network to reach out if you want to collaborate around this strategy.
(The following are the reflections)


Reflections on the United Nations Civil Society Organizations Conference: Bridging the Finance Gap for Global Change

Last week, I attended the United Nations Civil Society Organizations conference in Nairobi, a gathering that brought together over 2,000 participants from around the world. As a representative of the Global Public Investment (GPI) Network, my anticipation was mixed with scepticism, but I remained cautiously optimistic about the potential for meaningful dialogue and action.

For the first time in over sixty years, a UN Civil Society Conference was hosted in the Global South, signalling the UN’s commitment to regional inclusivity and the recognition of the voices of civil society from the Global South. This decision holds profound implications, acknowledging the challenges faced by many in the Global South who are often unable to attend such conferences due to funding constraints and visa restrictions.

The significance of this shift cannot be overstated. By bringing the conference to Nairobi, the UN provided a platform for voices that are too often marginalised or overlooked in global decision-making processes. It was a powerful symbol of solidarity and a recognition of the invaluable contributions that civil society actors from the Global South make to shaping the global agenda.

The diversity of voices present at the conference was striking. From human rights activists to climate advocates, from grassroots leaders to health organisers, the breadth of perspectives underscored the interconnectedness of global challenges and the importance of collaboration across sectors. In workshops and impact coalitions, ideas flowed freely, from novel innovations to tried-and-tested strategies, as participants engaged in dialogue and exchange.

Amidst the discussions, moments of solidarity emerged, reminding us of the power of collective action. Calls for an immediate cease-fire in Palestine resonated deeply, while health advocates passionately pushed for specific agendas in the Pact for the Future. These moments served as a testament to the capacity of civil society to drive change and stand in solidarity with communities facing injustice.

As a representative of the Global Public Investment (GPI) Network, my focus was on rethinking the international financial architecture and addressing the financing gap for addressing global challenges and specifically the SDGs. The urgency of this task cannot be overstated. The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) remain imperilled by a significant financing gap, posing a threat to the realisation of our collective aspirations for a more just and sustainable world.