Advocacy and Participation
The role non-governmental organizations play in social development is rapidly growing across Africa. NGOs have made important contributions to reaching the poor, proving they are able to help the most disadvantaged groups whereas governments have been unable or unwilling to do so and to respond quickly to emergencies (UNDP). Their familiarity with local conditions as well as with the social, cultural and traditional aspects of the population, direct contact with local communities and grassroots groups and their ability to disseminate information places them in a position to help implement more participatory local development initiatives.
Most African NGOs lack direct access to relevant practical and strategic information as well as access to financial resources to cover travel and subsistence costs to attend international meetings. These organizations have fewer opportunities to be involved in intergovernmental processes. Due to this lack of resources the group of NGOs involved in intergovernmental forums has often been dominated by Northern based NGOs.
As part of the globalization trend, key issues of significance to communities in developing countries are now being taken on at international level. The effective participation of Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) in these international conferences and in meetings is essential for strengthening the role of CSOs in influencing global decision-making processes.
- Identifying key specific issues to focus and lobby for during relevant environmental intergovernmental meetings;
- Disseminating information on outcomes of relevant intergovernmental meetings;
- Compiling information on local experiences, campaigns, needs and priority issues and case studies for presentation at relevant intergovernmental meetings;
- Monitoring and promoting the implementation of international agreements at national and regional levels in Africa;
- Supporting and facilitating African organizations to participate in international events such as UN meetings;
- Assisting African NGOs to prepare for effective participation in international forums related to the environment and sustainable development on issues affecting local community benefits and rights.