Brussels, 1 November 2017/ ACP: Members of civil society, private sector, and other economic and social partners from across Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific gathered for the first dialogue of its kind at the ACP House on 30-31 October, to provide input on major issues affecting ACP countries, such as climate change, private sector development, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the future of ACP-EU relations.

The aim of the 1st ACP Non-State Actors (NSA) Forum, held under the theme “Towards the ACP We Want: The Role of Non-State Actors,” was to provide a platform for an exchange of views, and to set a clear path forward that would guarantee more support to NSA as a consultative grouping in the ACP and ACP-EU frameworks. This would entail an enhanced role in the ACP Group’s governance process, through more participatory and inclusive policy dialogue, as well as more involvement in defining, implementing and monitoring ACP development strategies.

In his opening remarks, the ACP Secretary General H.E. Dr. Patrick I. Gomes highlighted the key role of Non-State Actors in promoting sustainable development, as enshrined in the ACP-EU Cotonou Agreement – an international treaty that governs the interactions between the European Union and the ACP countries in terms of trade, development cooperation, and political dialogue.

“Unity and a common approach of solidarity should therefore continue to be the light to guide ACP discussions on challenges related to a more powerful and dynamic future of our organisation. My hope is that this NSA consultation process will further deepen the ongoing dialogue, and enrich the ACP’s future in a changing international, political, economic and social context,” he told the meeting. (Read the full statement)

Participants addressed three strategic pillars identified in the policy framework document ‘The ACP We Want’ adopted by the ACP Council of Ministers in 2017, which captures the main elements of the future outlook of the ACP Group, including priorities for the anticipated renewed ACP-EU Partnership post-2020. Discussions at the meeting are expected to feed into those currently held in preparation for negotiations of this new cooperation between the EU and ACP countries.

During the meeting, NSAs made several key observations in relations with these three strategic pillas, including the need to deepen intra-ACP trade integration and investment cooperation, and support improved NSA participation in the global economy, including through further development of industrialization and services sectors in ACP states. They identified the development of science, technology and innovation to be fundamental tools for the implementation of the 2030 Agenda. Finally, the NSAs endorsed SDGs 16 and 17, which reinforced the link between peace, security and development, as acknowledged in the Sipopo and Port Moresby Declaration of the ACP Heads of State and Government.

Clear recommendations were made for the ACP Group to recognise the role of NSAs in the fight to end poverty and promote sustainable development at national, regional and all-ACP levels. Given their active engagement communities and knowledge of issues of concern for local communities, NSAs were especially well-placed as advocates for the poor and marginalised members of society.

The ACP NSAs urged the ACP Group to organise an institutional network to ensure structured dialogue, business continuity and sustainability through the establishment of an ACP Non-State Actors Consultative Group to the Committee of Ambassadors and ACP-EU Institutions. They called for concrete support to the ACP NSA Consultative Group in their efforts to achieve the objectives of Article 4 of the Cotonou Partnership Agreement.

The recommendations are scheduled to be submitted for consideration to the ACP Council of Ministers this December 2018.

Read the full statement by the Secretary General

(Photos from top: ACP Assistant Secretary General in charge of Political Affairs and Human Development Amb. Leonard Ognimba, Head of Department who organised the meeting; Participants from various regions of the ACP Group; the ACP Secretary General H.E. Dr. Patrick Gomes (Centre) along with the Chairman of the ACP Committee of Ambassadors, Amb. Amadou Diop of Senegal opened the forum.)

– ACP Press