Nepal: National civil society consultation on Rio2012

A National Civil Society Consultation on the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio2012) was organized in Kathmandu by Rural Reconstruction Nepal (RRN, focal point of Social Watch), in collaboration with the National Planning Commission and the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development.

"We must understand that we have a common yet differentiated responsibility as civil societies in relation to put forward our concerns, issues and agendas in the upcoming UN Conference," said at the meeting the president of RRN, Dr. Arjun Karki.

He further explained the politics and dynamics of the ongoing negotiation between the various economic and political blocks in relation to the conference.

The consultation was attended by more than a hundred participants representing national and international civil society organizations (including peasants, women, youth and consumers associations and children and human rights defenders), government delegates and academicians.

"As governmental delegates or as civil society representatives, we must take into consideration that our presentation at Rio 2012 should encompass the national concern as a whole," said at the meeting Dr. Deependra Kshetry, Vice-Chair of the National Planning Commission.

"Nepal’s agenda should not merely highlight the national concerns but also encompass those of allied countries as well," added Dr. Madhav Karki, Deputy Director General of the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development.

Mr. Robert Piper, UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Nepal, said that "much of the progress that we see in the development sector for the last 20 years is largely due to the contribution and effort of the civil societies. I am convinced that the Rio summit is where Nepal deserves to take centre stage. It is Nepal’s Summit."

Speaking as the representative of Nepali civil society organizations, Ms. Apsara Chapagain, Chairperson of Federation of Community Forest Users Nepal said "we must always be aware and understand what is sustainable development, who is it for, and why, and if we have reached the people that we are aiming to reach".

RRN is leading the national civil society consultation process in Nepal towards Rio2012. RRN has already organized regional consultations in Biratnagar, Chitwan, Pokhara and Nepalganj with the participation of groups of peasants, workers, natural resources users, indigenous groups, dalits, women and other marginalised communities including representatives of different federations and networks working in the field of development.

Civil society recommendations resulting out of this national consultation will be handed over to the Government of Nepal and will also feed into the parallel People’s Summit that will be taking place alongside the official conference.