Stakeholder Democracy: Represented Democracy in a Time of Fear  Available Now.


June 2018

Juen saw an interview in Science X on how the science community has engaged in the UN processes over time. 

Could you tell us about the history of the Major Group for Science and Technology? Why was it created and what was it supposed to do? Was this a first in the UN system?

In the runup to the Rio Earth Summit (1992), Maurice Strong, who was the Secretary-General for the Summit, recognized that it was important to have ‘different stakeholder’ views – not only in developing Agenda 21, but also in helping to deliver it. This approach was a departure from the default model of grouping all NGOs together as “civil society”.  

The Earth Summit recognized nine stakeholders, including the Science and Technology Community. For the first time, science and technology were given a seat at the table to ensure that member states could hear the latest scientific evidence. But the new system also enabled women to have a chance to explain the gender aspect of policies. It ensured that the next generation – youth and children – and Indigenous Peoples would have a voice. It also brought in local government as a stakeholder, recognizing that in many cases they would be important partners in delivering the outcomes.

Most of these ‘stakeholder groups’ organized global conferences to develop input for the Earth Summit’s main outcome document. In particular, the scientific community gathered in November 1991 to develop input for the Earth Summit at the Vienna International Conference on an Agenda of Science for Environment and Development into the Twenty-first Century (ASCEND 21). The conference was organized by the International Council of Scientific Unions (ICSU) and the Third World Academy of Sciences (TWAS).

After the Earth Summit, as governments established their Councils of Commissions for Sustainable Development, nearly all of these started by engaging the national leaders of each of the Major Groups. These bodies then played a key role in the years after the Rio 92 conference in ensuring effective follow-up at the national level. The interview continues here. 

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May 2018

I had the change to be a respondent to the revised People First Principles for Public-Private Partnerships for achieving the SDGs at the UNECE meeting in May in Geneva. “Scaling up: Meeting the challenges of the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development through people-first Public-Private Partnerships”. A full copy of my speech is available here. 

The Principles:

Principle 1: Projects and Action Plans

Principle 2: Capacity Building

Principle 3: Improving Legal frameworks for People-first PPPs

Principle 4: Transparency and Accountability

Principle 5: Risk and de-risking

Principle 6: Procurement: Promoting, Value for People

Principle 7: Resilience and Climate Change

Principle 8:  Innovative Financing: Impact Investing

The outcome actions were in line with what I called for:

  • While recognizing a growing consensus in support of the Guiding Principles, the proposed changes on governance, better definitions, among others discussed should be incorporated.
  • UNECE also acknowledged the need for a strong, one UN perspective on PPPs and the SDGs.  Unified guidelines will be more powerful in assisting policy makers to develop PPPs that put people- first and achieve the ambitious outcomes of the SDGs.
  • Therefore, as a next step, the Guiding Principles will be sent to the other UN Regional Commissions to get comments and decide how to jointly implement them in countries. 
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April 2018

The second book Governance for Sustainable Development Volume 2: Implementing the 2030 Agenda by the Friends of Governance for Sustainable Development which is coordinated by the governments of Germany, Nigeria, Romania and the Republic of Korea. This volume is edited by Akinremi Bolaji, Jens-Michael Bopp, Yeongmoo Cho, Cristina Popescu, David Banisar, Felix Dodds and Quinn McKew

Achieving sustainable development requires an enabling environment. Governance plays a crucial role in creating those conditions, notably, for our purposes in the implementation of the 2030 sustainable development agenda process. From creating new platforms to reforming old ones, the process must live up to this standard and its mechanisms should be geared towards fostering this type of new international environment and cooperation for sustainable development. This is the second volume produced by the Friends Group. The first volume presented the period from late 2014 to the end of 2015. The Group also has a website which it places the papers that are being discussed at the Friends Group’s meetings, which can be found here. The chapters of this book are a reflection of the rich contributions made by governments, intergovernmental bodies and stakeholders to the three workshops that the Friends Group hosted in 2017.
The chapters are:

  1. Principles and Practices of Multi-Stakeholder Partnerships for Sustainable Development - Guidance and Oversight from UN Decisions Minu Hemmati, MSP Institute and Felix Dodds, Tellus Institute
  2. High-Level and UNGA Resolutions on Sustainable Development Governance: Existing Language for Committee of Experts on Public Administration David Banisar, Article 19
  3. Executive Summary from Inter-Agency Task Force Meeting on Public-Private Partnerships UNDESA
  4. Draft Principles for Public-Private Partnerships James Goldstein, Communitas Coalition
  5. Citizen Data around Governance for the Sustainable Development Goals Davis Adieno, CIVICUS World Alliance
  6. Supplemental indicators for Goal 16: UNDP and the Community of Democracies H.E. Dr. Ion Jinga, Permanent Representative of Romania to the UN
  7. Private sector contribution to financing the Sustainable Development Felix Dodds, Tellus Institute
  8. Suggestions for how to approach SDG targets that fall between 2020 and 2025 Felix Dodds, Tellus Institute
Available on Amazon (Kindle coming soon)
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March 2018

I served as the moderator for the dialogue, which represents part of UN Environment’s commitment to deliver on the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development outcome document: ‘The Future We Want’. This document calls for “the active participation of all relevant stakeholders, drawing on best practices and models from relevant multilateral institutions and exploring new mechanisms, to promotetransparency and the effective engagement of civil society” within the framework of its decision to strengthen the role of the United Nations Environment Programme as the leading global environmental authority.

Stakeholder engagement has been an important component of the development of UN Environment since its inception at the 1972 UN Conference on the Human Environment. The concept of ‘Major Groups’ was pioneered by the first UN Environment Executive Director, Maurice Strong, when he was Secretary-General of the Earth Summit in 1992. He recognized that categorizing all nongovernment actors under the term NGO or civil society meant that not all voices were being
heard. He understood that in policy discussions it is vital that women are able to provide a gender perspective, that youth can present the views of the next generation, that indigenous peoples are given the opportunity to talk about environmental impacts on their land, and that local and subnational governments can help inform national governments of the challenges to implementation at the local level. In 2004, UN Environment recognized the need to hear the voices of a broader range of stakeholders – beyond the nine Major Groups. This was also reflected by the UN as a whole in the 2030 Agenda.
Multi-stakeholder dialogues in other forums could also be used to inform the development of UN Environment’s own approach to embedding stakeholders in the workings of UN Environment
Assembly and UN Environment. The UN Commission on Sustainable Development from
1998 to 2001, is an interesting example. The first two days of each session were given over to four multi-stakeholder dialogues on issues that Member States were going to negotiate, enabling them to draw useful lessons into policy decisions. This approach might be worth considering for future UNEA sessions.
The development of the Sustainable Development Goals provides a good illustration of how governments, the UN and relevant stakeholders can contribute their expertise to negotiations, encouraging them to engage in the implementation of these goals and targets.
Multi-stakeholder partnerships will play a critical role in helping to implement UNEA decisions,
particularly if stakeholders are engaged in the development of those decisions. 
UNEP Perspective Paper 30 available here. 

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February 2018

Now out my 15th book - Power to the People: Confessions of a Young Liberal Activist 1975-1988 

This book explores the role that the Young Liberal Green Guard had on UK politics in the 1980s. It aims to inspire future young politicians of whatever political views the truth of Margaret Meads statement that: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has.” Felix Dodds was Chair of the National League of Young Liberals (1985-1987). He was also a member of the Liberal Party Council (1983-86). His has written or edited fifteen books the first of which was ‘Into the Twenty-First Century: An Agenda for Political Realignment. (1988)’. He was an Advisory Editor for New Democrat International (1988-1992). He is the President of Amber Valley Liberal Democrats.


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January 2018

Addressing the Nexus Workshop organized by UN Department for Economic and Social Affairs Division on Sustainable Development.  My presentation can be found here. 

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December 2017


Photo by IISD/ENB Mike Mururakis

I had the honor of moderating the Multi-Stakeholder Dialogue “People and Pollution”.  at United Nations Environment Assembly 3. There were two sessions the first looking at the impact on pollution and the second on how we might address the problems. Opening the Dialogue was Ambassador Marie Chatar-dová the President of EcoSoc. She was followed by three presentations:

Sascha Gabizon, is Executive Director of Women in Europe for a Common Future and co-facilitates the Women’s Major Group at the UN ensuring participation of over 1000 Women’s organisations in the Sustainable Development Goals policy processes

Olga Speranskaya,  the CoChair of IPEN (International POPs Elimination Network), a global network of non-governmental organisations working towards a toxic-free future where she has focused on the design and implementation of IPEN global strategy to address pollution sources, domestic and international chemical safety policies and processes

Halima Hussein, a Kenyan lawyer working with Natural Justice: Lawyers for Communities and the Environment. She supports marginalized communities obtain fairer environmental decisions by empowering them to use the law and thereby mitigate the impacts of extractive and infrastructure projects affecting their culture, land, and environment.

Responding were:

  • Ms Molewa,  South African Minister Water and Environment
  • Dr Lin LI Director, of Global Policy & Advocacy WWF International 
  • Jane Patton, Plastic Pollution Coalition 
  • Mr Kiisler Estonia, Minister of the Environment,

 The second session had the following two presentations:

Photo by IISD/ENB Mike Mururakis 

Eritai Kateibwi, a  Young Champions of the Earth for Asia Pacific In January 2017, he organized a major beach clean-up on Betio Red Beach historical site

Kaya Dorey, the founder of NOVEL SUPPLY CO. a sustainable apparel line made in She is also a Young Champion of the Earth, and is striving to create a zero waste, closed-loop model that takes responsibility for the products she creates. 

Responding were:

  • Minister Tiilikainen, Finland’s Minister for the Environment, Energy, and Housing,
  • Minister Alexander Teabo, Kiribati's Minister for Environment, lands, and AgricultuDevelopmentent
  • Minister Helgesen, Norway's Minister of Climate and the Environment
  • Minister Schauvliege,  Flemish Minister for Environment Nature and Agriculture and nrg4SD Co-Chair for the North

 The meeting opened to further comments on what was said and what was missing from:

  • Minister Ms Skog, Sweden'ss Minister for the Environment
  • Ms. Vijoleta Gordeljevic Health and Climate Change Coordinator Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL) 
  • Marc D’Iorio, Ph.D. Canada Director General Industrial Sectors, Chemicals, and Waste at Environment and Climate 
  • Nick Palombo  International Chamber of Commerce 
  • Jane Nishida, Principal Deputy Assistant Administrator for EPA's Office of International and Tribal Affairs (OITA) 
  • Sarah Nelson Birdlife International and Head of International Policy at RSPB
  • Leida Rijnhout Friends of The Earth Europe and the co-coordinator of the NGO Major Group

 The dialogue focused on root causes for different aspects of pollution, including making the connections to poverty, rule of law, women’s rights and human rights. Respondents included Ministers and different stakeholders.

Photo by IISD/ENB Mike Mururakis 

Pollution is in everything we do: it is in what we eat, it is in the air we breathe, the water we drink. Pollution is not just an environmental problem but a social, economic and health challenge. Implications of pollution affect people all around the world.  But specifically, the poorest and most vulnerable people suffer the most – the poor, women and children.

Therefore, tackling pollution contributes to all dimensions of sustainable development by fighting poverty, improving health, creating decent jobs and protecting our natural resources and biodiversity.

Messages from the dialogue for you to consider:

  • The implementation of global agreements is critical.
  • There is a need for multi-stakeholder and multi-level collaboration
  • Member states need to further develop mechanisms to enhance coherence and efficiency.
  • Too often laws are ignored in countries – increased capacity support is needed in many developing countries to support the implementation of national laws.
  • Governments can do a lot more to incentivize sustainability as for example the carbon tax.
  • They can put out recycling targets and have innovation schemes. 
  • Green public procurements need to be expanded at all levels of government 
  • Circular economy is important approach we need to take out the chemicals 
  • Data and monitoring underpins all approaches to addressing pollution and should be at the core of multi-level partnerships. 
  • Building public awareness of the problem will mobilize political will
  • Voluntary commitments are a good first stage. But it is not enough. More regulation is needed at the international and national level.
  • Extended producer responsibility should be built in to all products
  • We need to make sustainable products more affordable with government incentives
  • Clean industry and other stakeholders should work together in Multi Stakeholder partnerships to promote innovative solutions and help build local capacity to address pollution.
  • Addressing corruption in public and private sectors will underpin all approaches to addressing pollution.
  • UNEA more clearly needs to input to the HLPF – this should include UNEA 4 addressing the environmental contribution to the Heads of State HLPF in 2019



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