An important milestone towards a more sustainable future, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development marks the beginning of a 15-year process of transformative change for people and planet.

CONCORD – the European NGO Confederation for Relief and Development whose 28 national associations, 20 international networks and 3 associate members represent 2,600 NGOs across Europe – would therefore like to emphasize the important part civil society has played and will continue to play in making this vision of human rights and well-being for all within planetary boundaries a reality.

As stated in the 2012 Commission Communication, ‘an empowered civil society is a crucial component of any democratic system and an asset in itself’, contributing ‘to more effective policies, equitable and sustainable development and inclusive growth’ and participatory democracy by ‘representing and fostering pluralism’ and ‘articulating citizens’ concerns and growing demand for transparent and accountable governance’. ‘CSOs’ participation in policy processes is key to ensuring inclusive and effective policies’, and ‘synergies between states and CSOs can help overcome challenges of poverty, widening inequalities, social exclusion and unsustainable development’.

Although the role of civil society in the implementation and monitoring of the 2030 Agenda seems to be widely recognised by the international community, in the last few years 96 countries took measures to repress citizens and restrict space for CSOs (CIVICUS, 2015). It is therefore important that the EU and its Member States, as well CSOs, involve and support civil society across the globe, in a structured manner at every step in the implementation process, so as to empower people, create ownership and ensure accountability.

This paper further outlines and provides recommendations for EU and MS to support the following CSOs roles:
– Our role as analysts and advocates on strategies, policies, budgets and programmes
– Our role as implementers for sustainable development and capacity builders
– Our role as awareness raisers and citizen engagers