We, the undersigned civil society organizations from the Western Balkan countries, active in the fields of poverty reduction, marginalized groups including women and Roma, environment protection, education, as well as anti-corruption, transparency and human rights protection,
Having in mind that the UN General Assembly will vote on the new global development agenda in September 2015 - Sustainable Development Goals - addressing fields of poverty eradication, health, education, gender equality, elimination of inequality, environment protection and climate changes, employment and decent work, energy, access to justice for all, effective institutions on all levels and global partnership for sustainable development;
Acknowledging the relevance of the SDGs for all Western Balkan countries, particularly in light of the social impact of the economic crisis, high level of unemployment, growing poverty and widespread inequality, need to ensure energy security and efficiency, improve protection of environment, combat climate change and necessity to strengthen institutional arrangements;
Recognizing that only when global commitments find their place in national policies, plans and specific measures, and when adequate financial resources are allocated to its implementation, can we expect to turn the SDGs into a truly transformative agenda and have tangible results on the national and local level;
Considering that the SDGs are highly convergent with the EU membership aspirations of the countries in the region, but that they also go far beyond it, their effective implementation may underpin the reform processes and development plans on the national level;
Emphasizing that building effective and inclusive institutions, establishing accountability of the government, ensuring access to justice and peaceful societies as proposed by the Goal 16 should be at the center of the development agendas of all the countries around the world, including the developed countries.
Call upon our governments to:
1. Vote for the adoption of the Post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals in the General Assembly in September 2015.
Thus, they will open new prospects for sustainable development of our countries and endorse and contribute towards an effective resolution of local, regional and global developmental problems. What is more, governments will thus work towards achieving one of the priorities of the EU foreign policy and underscore their commitment to their own future in the EU.
2. Make additional effort - until the final decision is made by the UN General Assembly - to actively advocate with other countries to support the proposed list of Post-2015 SDGs, including Goal 16: Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels.
Building such institutions, which serve citizens’ needs, is a stand-alone goal and democratic value in itself, but it is also an important precondition for achieving other development goals.
3. Launch an inclusive and participatory process of setting national targets and action plans for the entirety of the SDGs, as soon as they are adopted.
This is a prerequisite to ensure that priorities which reflect national and local needs are set and effective implementation and monitoring mechanisms established. Civil society participation and engagement in all phases of the process is essential in achieving the set goals. Local authorities also have specific role to play in setting and achieving agreed targets.
4. Strengthen regional cooperation and build regional partnership in all fields where the achieving of the national goals requires joint efforts and synergy.
This will also be a contribution of Western Balkan countries towards revitalizing global partnership for sustainable development, as stated in the Goal 17 of the proposed SDGs.
Initiated in Belgrade on June 26th, 2015,
at the Regional Civil Society Conference
Post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals
in the Western Balkans