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Perspectives from civil society on the millennium development goals and post-2015 agenda: focus on small states and vulnerability

Publication date:
L. Murray
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The interconnectedness of the Millennium Development Goals mean that lack of progress in one area can undermine gains in another.

In 2012 the Commonwealth Foundation, in partnership with the United Nations Millennium Campaign, launched Breaking Point. It brought together civil society actors and stakeholders in fourteen countries to reveal deep deficits with civil society experience of and engagement with the MDGs framework. This brief examines the results of these consultations amongst small states, focusing on their vulnerability to
economic shocks, natural disasters and the rising risks of climate change.

The brief suggests small states require specific attention in the areas of:

natural disasters,
climate change (including access to climate funding),
rising national debt,
instability in global markets;
crime and corruption,
and poverty related to land ownership inequalities.

Future development goals must speak to globally agreed themes but be sufficiently flexible to address national and sub-national priorities.

Government and donors should facilitate greater partnership with civil society by introducing more enabling laws and policies and building capacities of civil society to participate better and engage in consultations more proactively and meaningfully.

Government Ministries should have dedicated CSOs desks to facilitate such partnership. At the community-level, even relatively simple actions
such as village notice bulletins can spur citizen engagement, especially for environmental issues.

Furthermore, a shift away from direct budget support by donors to
governments, and basket approaches that combine the resources of several donors. In such circumstances, the potential for support of civil
society effectively becomes transferred to the national government and where the relationship is weak, this is disempowering civil society.