The United Nations’ Post-2015 development agenda will define global development priorities between now and the year 2030. Those of us in civil society have been watching, reading, tracking and trying to figure out where we can insert ourselves in a helpful, productive and strategic way. This can often feel like a swim through an ocean of acronyms, dates, processes and position papers. Here’s a quick rundown of events and opportunities to get involved in the coming months. Click through the timeline at the bottom for dates of specific events (a BIG thank-you to colleagues at IPPF-EN for compiling the timeline information, and to friends at the International Women’s Health Coalition (IWHC) for highlighting key opportunities).


The Opportunity: Open Working Group on the Sustainable Development Goals (OWG)

Since the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) in July 2012, a group of member states have been convening for eight “stock-taking” sessions on a variety of topics ranging from universal health to cities to gender equity. These discussions build off of The Future We Want outcome document. Now the OWG is moving into the formal decision-making phase, with five additional sessions from March through August to discuss and finalize a report to send to the UN Secretary General. The role that civil society will have at these meetings (i.e. consultations, similar to the OWG morning briefings, with the co-chairs and member states) is still unclear. We anticipate more information on this front during OWG 8.

What you can do: Hitch your ride to a Major Group. Established in 1992 during Agenda 21, there are nine sectoral Major Groups that are the main channels through which citizens and civil society can organize and participate in international negotiations. The Women’s Major Group is a global force of more than 400 organizations dedicated to gender equity and women’s human rights. They have worked tirelessly to produce briefing papers and conduct advocacy on issues ranging from sexual health and reproductive rights to women’s rights in disaster settings.

The Opportunity: Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) &  Commission on Population & Development (CPD)

As member states continue to develop their positions and priorities on post-2015 in advance of intergovernmental negotiations in September 2014, both CSW 58 and CPD 47 will be important venues for defining the need for a standalone gender equality goal and associated cross-cutting targets. CSW58 is focused on “Challenges and achievements in the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals for women and girls.” CPD’s theme is “Assessment of the status of implementation of the Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development.”

What you can do: Reach out to member states. These conversations can help get a sense of their priorities for CSW 58 and CPD 47. Ask what would be helpful for them as they prepare their remarks, statements and position. Offer your expertise as a resource. Encourage them to call for a stand-alone goal on gender equality and women’s human rights in the post-2015 framework, as well as for equality (including gender equality) to be a crosscutting priority across all dimensions of the sustainable development framework.

The Opportunity: U.N. General Assembly High-Level Events

Beginning this month, the President of the General Assembly will be hosting a series of high-level consultations.  One of these events, on March 6-7, will highlight the contributions of women, the young and civil society.

What you can do:  Emphasize priority issues such as reproductive health and rights by suggesting potential speakers and continuing to call for broad civil society participation in these meetings. For more information about the high-level events, click here.

As you can see from the timeline, there are many parallel processes taking place, including sessions with the Committee of Experts on Sustainable Development Financing, an important climate summit in September, and many other events. And the formal intergovernmental negotiation process does not begin until September 2014! So as we engage in this process, it is important to remember that it is a marathon, not a sprint, and at times can feel more like a maze. And then, of course, there are the means of implementation. As civil society, we need to be continually committed to driving robust conversation throughout the process.