Session 1 – Day 2

Realising the transformational potential of the 2030 Agenda and promoting an enabling environment for civil society and local authorities

 Tuesday 26 June (09:30 – 11:00)


The vision of the Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development for transformation and fundamental change to the “Business As Usual” model of development, is extremely important if we are to effectively address the very serious social, economic and environmental issues currently facing humanity. For this purpose, the Agenda 2030, adopted by the UN Member States, sets out a set of values and principles in its Declaration and Preamble[1]:

If the Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development is to be implemented by the EU in a way that promotes truly systemic change, then these important principles must be fully operationalised.

 Enabling Environment

All UN member countries also supported Agenda 2030’s call for “partnerships between governments, the private sector and civil society” and recognise the essential role of Local Authorities to implement and monitor the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). An enabling environment is clearly a prerequisite to allow for the effective implementation of the Agenda 2030.

An enabling environment can be understood as the governance, policy, legal, financial, socio-economic and/or socio-cultural conditions that affect the capacity of citizens to individually or collectively participate and engage in civil society and in the lowest tier of the national government. An enabling environment therefore implies that all stakeholders have the freedom and capacities, to participate and engage in the civic and political life of their societies. Yet quite a number of countries are reported to be restricting the space for civil society to operate, with a “shrinking space” for CSOs and including social movements, while on the other side do not devolve powers or do not attribute adequate financial resources to regions and cities. Together with civic space, other priority areas to address when creating an enabling environment for Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) and Local Authorities include resource mobilisation to allow for sustainable funding and action, and strengthening internal capacities of CSOs & social movements[2]. For LAs, the “Enabling Environment” can be defined as the complex sum of conditions that allow  the existence and capacity of LAs. It depends on the actions and policies of all development actors, including governments, donors and CSOs & LAs.

In order to best address these broad topics, it is proposed to have a panel session covering the issues of “Realising the Transformational Potential of the Agenda 2030” and “Ensuring an Enabling Environment for CSOs and LAs”. The panel discussion will also involve significant interaction with the audience.

Objectives of Session

  • To highlight the importance for the EU of moving beyond “Business as Usual” and realising the transformational potential of the Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development by fully respecting and operationalizing its key principles (eg Universality, Integration, Interlinkages, Policy Coherence for Sustainable Development, Leaving No One Behind, respecting Planetary Boundaries and Inter-Generational Justice, and realizing the Human Rights of All)
  • To explore the potential of new EU policy frameworks and their consequences for the implementation of the Agenda 2030. What are the main challenges for implementation? How can development partners and EU work together (lessons learnt and best practices)?
  • To explore how the EU can develop and use appropriate EU policy frameworks and implementation mechanisms in order to :
    • address all of the Agenda 2030’s goals and targets in a coherent and integrated way, while promoting policy coherence for sustainable development
    • ensure effective monitoring and accountability systems are established by the EU for a coherent Human Rights based approach to Agenda 2030 implementation
    • leave no one behind by giving voice to those traditionally excluded from policy and decision-making
    • ensure a clear recognition of Planetary Boundaries and intergenerational justice in the policy and decision-making of the EU
  • To explore how the implementation and monitoring of a universal, global agenda such as the Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development can help to promote a more enabling environment for CSOs and LAS
  • To identify how the EU can- through its external action- support an enabling environment and better operating conditions for CSOs and LAs so that they can fully contribute to the successful implementation of the Agenda 2030.What is being achieved? What is still challenging? What could be the added value of a partnership between the EU and development partners?


  • Tanya Cox, Senior Policy Officer with Plan International’s EU Office


  • Director Félix Fernández-Shaw, International Cooperation and Development Policy, Directorate General for International Cooperation and Development, European Commission
  • Emele Duituranga - Executive Director, Pacific Islands Association of NGOs (PIANGO), Fiji for the Small Islands Development States
  • Paul Maasens, Director Civil Society Engagement, Open Government Partnership
  • Miguel Santibáñez – Chairman of IFP global CSO network and member of MESA  Latin American
  • Aliou Sow, President, Commission of the High Council of Local and Regional Authorities, Senegal

Background documents


[1]Source:  :

[2]Source : FPAs’ contributions to the EU Partnership Forum 2017 and to the 2018 electronic survey


Funded by the European Union