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Major Groups and Other Stakeholders (MGoS)
Please join the HLPF MGoS Coordination Mechanism mailing list by completing this registration form

Major Groups and other Stakeholders (MGoS) were integral to the development and adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Since its adoption, MGoS have been actively working towards its implementation, through projects, initiatives, advocacy, knowledge-sharing, and monitoring of the 2030 Agenda. MGoS often work in partnership with other sectors, including governments.

Major Groups and other Stakeholders are also active in the annual follow-up and review process of the 2030 Agenda, which culminates in the annual High-Level Political Forum for Sustainable Development. MGoS interested in engaging in the High-Level Political Forum can register to join the self-organized Major Groups and other Stakeholders High-Level Political Forum Coordination Mechanism (MGoS HLPF CM) and mailing list by completing this registration form. We also encourage MGoS to reach out to the Organizing Partners of their relevant constituency listed below to find out more about opportunities for engagement.

Click here for more information on 2022 HLPF under the auspices of ECOSOC

New: MGoS Review and Evaluation of MGoS at 2020-2021 HLPF

Updated Terms of Reference, Major Groups and other Stakeholders, December 2020

If you are a representative of a Major Group and other Stakeholder who would like to find out more about engaging in the VNR sessions during the HLPF, please click here.

Note: The major groups and other stakeholders are self-coordinated and independent from the UN Secretariat. The representatives of the major groups and other stakeholders are therefore NOT representatives of the United Nations nor are they staff. They are not authorized to enter into business arrangements on behalf of the United Nations nor are they permitted to use the United Nations’ name or logo for endorsement of an activity.
Business & Industry
Children & Youth
Indigenous Peoples
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Non-Governmental Organizations
Scientific & Technological Community
Workers & Trade Unions
Persons with Disabilities
Education and Academia
About Major Groups and other stakeholders

Since the first United Nations Conference on Environment and Development in 1992 - known as the Earth Summit, it was recognized that achieving sustainable development would require the active participation of all sectors of society and all types of people. Agenda 21, adopted at the Earth Summit, drew upon this sentiment and formalized nine sectors of society as the main channels through which broad participation would be facilitated in UN activities related to sustainable development. These are officially called "Major Groups" and include the following sectors:

  • Women
  • Children and Youth
  • Indigenous Peoples
  • Non-Governmental Organizations
  • Local Authorities
  • Workers and Trade Unions
  • Business and Industry
  • Scientific and Technological Community
  • Farmers

Two decades after the Earth Summit, the importance of effectively engaging these nine sectors of society was reaffirmed by the Rio+20 Conference. Its outcome document "The Future We Want" highlights the role that Major Groups can play in pursuing sustainable societies for future generations. In addition, governments invited other stakeholders, including local communities, volunteer groups and foundations, migrants and families, as well as older persons and persons with disabilities, to also participate in UN processes related to sustainable development.

Subsequently, the resolution on format and organizational aspects of the high-level political forum on sustainable development (67/290) identified also private philanthropic organizations, educational and academic entities and other stakeholders active in areas related to sustainable development as relevant stakeholders.

The 2030 Agenda also underlined the important role of major groups and other stakeholders in its implementation.

Major Groups and other stakeholders (MGoS) continue to demonstrate a high level of engagement with intergovernmental processes at the UN.

Their engagement with HLPF has been within the parameters set up in the paragraph 15 of the resolution 67/290, namely that they are allowed:

(a) To attend all official meetings of the forum;
(b) To have access to all official information and documents;
(c) To intervene in official meetings;
(d) To submit documents and present written and oral contributions;
(e) To make recommendations;
(f) To organize side events and round tables, in cooperation with Member States and the Secretariat.

The coordination of their input to intergovernmental processes on sustainable development has been facilitated by UNDESA.

How to get involved

UN DESA, collaborates closely with MGoS through a coordinating body of facilitators known as the Organizing Partners, comprised of accredited organizations that are invited to be facilitators between the Major Groups and other stakeholders and DESA. Organizing Partners are tasked with coordinating inputs and streamlining communications from their particular constituencies. To get involved and learn more about the activities of your Major Group, please contact the corresponding Organizing Partner directly (contact information under each constituency above).

The resolution 67/290 has also encouraged MGoS "to autonomously establish and maintain effective coordination mechanisms for participation in the high-level political forum and for actions derived from that participation at the global, regional and national levels, in a way that ensures effective, broad and balanced participation by region and by type of organization". Subsequently, a coordination mechanism has been established with two co-chairs and and is a central channel for engagement with HLPF on sustainable development.
First steps - Earth Summit and the Commission for Sustainable Development

To implement the Major Groups structure formalized by Agenda 21, the Major Groups Programme was set up within UN DESA’s Division for Sustainable Development with the objective of incorporating the views of these sectors of society into intergovernmental processes.

The Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD), established by the UN General Assembly in December 1992 to ensure effective follow-up to the Earth Summit, provided generous access to Major Groups and was at the forefront of experimentation in this domain.

From its inception, the CSD was highly participatory in structure and outlook, by engaging in its formal proceedings a wide range of official stakeholders and partners through innovative formulas. The first multi-stakeholder dialogue segment was introduced in 1998, as a unique participatory mechanism enabling direct interaction between Major Groups and Member States on specific topics.

The 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) succeeded in integrating Major Groups even further into the intergovernmental process. The post-WSSD time was also characterised by a growing intra-Major Groups collaboration that led to some tangible partnerships and new forms of cooperation.

At the Earth Summit+5, the UN General Assembly decided that the CSD should conduct "a high-level policy debate aimed at consensus-building on sustainable development". As an integral part of that effort, it was agreed that the CSD should "strengthen its interaction with representatives of major groups, including through greater and better use of focused dialogue sessions, and round tables."

The Program of Work for CSD-6 through the WSSD (1998-2002) implemented the above decision by pioneering diversiform engagement through multi-stakeholder dialogues, which informed the deliberations of the Commission on different topics between 1998 and 2003.

Multi-stakeholder dialogues helped to promote meaningful participation among Major Groups and Member States in the intergovernmental decision-making process. The dialogues emerged as a significant component of the official meetings, and grew to become accepted as part of the political process, rather than as ancillary events taking place on the margins of negotiations.

The Chair's Summary of the multi-stakeholder dialogue segments reflected the areas of discussion covered during the dialogues and highlighted recommendations made by the Major Groups. Chair's summaries were included in the official report of each meeting.

Integrated participation (2003-2012)

The post-WSSD phase built on the multi-stakeholder dialogues experience and provided innovative formats for interactive participation. Major Groups were integrated in the various activities planned throughout the official CSD sessions, including thematic discussions, expert panels and interactive discussions during the High-level Segment. Major Groups contributed their expertise to technical discussions on thematic issue areas, offering solutions for implementation of sustainable development and highlighting the importance of partnerships.

Post-2012 (2012-present)

The importance of substantively engaging the nine Major Groups was reaffirmed in the lead-up to and during United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD), also known as Rio+20. The outcome document of the Conference "The Future We Want" expressly addressed Major Groups role in pursuing sustainable societies for future generations. In addition, other stakeholders, such as local communities, volunteer groups and foundations, migrants and families as well as older persons and persons with disabilities, were also invited to participate in UN processes related to sustainable development. Today, this involvement can be achieved through close collaboration with the nine Major Groups, making use of its consolidated institutional structure approved and endorsed by Member States.

The Rio+20 Conference also decided to conclude the CSD after its twentieth session and subsequently inaugurate a high-level political forum on sustainable development (known as the HLPF) that would build on the practices of the CSD to enhanced the engagement of Major Groups and other stakeholders in the follow-up and review of sustainable development commitments.

Also, Major Groups enjoyed a heightened level of participation during the intergovernmental Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals, which agreed on a proposal for 17 sustainable development goals (SDGs) to guide and inform the Post-2015 development agenda. The OWG experience served as an example of how Major Groups and other stakeholders can actively engage and contribute even in an informal deliberative process within the UN. Such examples will continue to be vitally important in the context of the new HLPF, and in the implementation of the post-2015 development agenda in the forthcoming years.

Milestones in the evolution of self-organization mechanisms and collaboration of Major Groups

  • International Facilitating Committee (IFC): established by NGOs and other stakeholder from civil society in the lead-up to UNCED to provide non-political organizational support, including organizing the Global Forum. It dissolved after Rio.
  • International Non-Governmental Organizations Forum (INGOF): also established by NGOs, creating an international "space" to develop common political positions (not including industry). It dissolved in 1995.
  • CSD-1: A facilitation mechanism was needed to assist NGOs and Major Groups in maximising their participation. NGO working groups from Rio - which had already formed again -, convened to discuss how NGOs might best organize themselves. The UN Non-Governmental Liaison Service (UN-NGLS) facilitated a series of follow-up regional telephone conferences and a meeting for NGOs attending the Down to Earth conference in Copenhagen (December 1993)
  • CSD-2: The results of these discussions were brought to CSD-2 in 1994, where NGOs and Major Groups' representatives established the NGO Steering Committee to the UN Commission on Sustainable Development. The CSD NGO Steering Committee (a multi-Major Groups structure) had a Southern and Northern Co-Chairs and two representatives from each of the identified regional caucuses, issue-based caucuses and Major Groups sectors.
  • 1996: rejuvenated interest in the intergovernmental sustainability process leading up to Rio +5; increased number of Major Groups participating in the Preparatory Committee of the 19th Special Session of the General Assembly (Earth Summit +5) in September 1997
  • UN General Assembly (GA) decides to include stakeholder dialogue as part of preparations for the 1997 Earth Summit + 5, inspired by the UN Habitat Conference in Istanbul 1996, and by various stakeholders active at CSD.
  • CSD Secretariat convenes a meeting with Major Groups in Geneva, and agreement is reached to proceed with stakeholder dialogue sessions at CSD-5, which served as the preparatory meeting for Earth Summit + 5 review.
  • Earth Summit + 5: stipulated that the CSD should conduct a high-level policy debate aimed at consensus-building on sustainable development. As an integral part of that effort, the CSD should strengthen its interaction with representatives of Major Groups, including through greater and better use of focused dialogue sessions, and round tables.
  • CSD-6 through CSD-10: To support the coordination and preparation for the multi-stakeholder dialogue segments, the CSD Secretariat broadens its interfacing beyond the CSD NGO Steering Committee and opens to a greater multi-sectorial coordinating mechanism (the early stages of the Organizing Partners) to respond to the new mandate and the focus of each multi-stakeholder dialogue segments. The content of the multi-stakeholder dialogues was determined in consultation with the CSD Bureau and the Steering Committee/organizing partners, facilitated by the CSD Secretariat. The Organizing Partners engaged in consultations with each Major Group sector to draft a 'dialogue starter paper' (a position paper) and determine who would speak for the sector during the dialogue. The dialogue papers were released as part of the official documentation in languages without editing the content.
  • CSD-8 Preparation: In the meantime, the CSD NGO Steering Committee experiences internal challenges linked to fundraising and accounting for the finances and election procedures, representativity and participation leading to its disintegration in June 2001.
  • Preparation for the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD): In 2001 SDIN - the Sustainable Development Issues Network is created, with the aim to support a broader NGO alliance of issue networks, caucuses and groups. In the lead up to WSSD, SDIN overcame the stalemate in the Steering Committee, and provided financial assistance and facilitation to those groups travelling to the Preparatory Committee's meetings and Johannesburg, in addition to training on the WSSD process (the core group included ANPED, TWN, ELCI, the Danish 92 Group and the Heinrich Böll Foundation). SDIN was entrusted by the CSD Secretariat to organise the multi-stakeholder dialogues at the WSSD and coordinate the daily NGO driven morning information meeting open to all Major Groups.
  • WSSD gave CSD a renewed mandate in 2003 which resulted in CSD-11 adopting a new multi-year work programme and devising enhanced modes of engagement of Major Groups.
  • CSD-11 to CSD-19: the Organizing Partners system is the operating mechanism that allows the Secretariat and Member States to consult Major Groups in a timely fashion, throughout the preparatory phase as well as during the CSD sessions, and to organize multi-stakeholder participation in a harmonious, inclusive, targeted and coordinated fashion.
  • Rio+20 inherits the Organizing Partners structure from CSD-19, which incidentally overlaps with the Intergovernmental Preparatory Meetings for the 2012 Conference. Given the great surge in public attention to sustainable development, additional Organizing Partners are invited by the Bureau to join the coordination architecture for the Rio+20 Conference, thus boosting international participation and outreach to record levels. Major Groups interface directly with the Bureau during every informal meeting of the preparatory process, organize side events and press conferences, and hold meetings with the UN Secretary-General and other world leaders in the margins of the Conference.
  • 2012 – 2014: Four main work streams are launched by the Rio+20 Conference, designed to reconvene Member States with the active participation of Major Groups and other stakeholders around ad hoc processes to elaborate the forward agenda and feed directly into post-2015 planning. Member States negotiate the format and organizational arrangements for a new high-level political forum on sustainable development (known as the HLPF), designed to replace the CSD and build upon its strengths and modalities of broad and inclusive stakeholder engagement. Rio+20 also launches an open working group of governments to develop a set of SDGs, which endeavours to adapt the Major Groups format of participation to an informal deliberative process within the UN, and set a new standard for transparency and inclusiveness. The General Assembly establishes an intergovernmental committee of experts on sustainable development financing that includes multi-stakeholder dialogues, open briefings and regional outreach meetings. A series of multi-stakeholder workshops is organized to deliver options for the development, transfer and dissemination of clean and environmentally sound technologies.
  • The post-Rio+20 era has been led by an evolving cast of long-standing Organizing Partners as well as leaders from other civil society stakeholders who have not traditionally engaged with the sustainable development process. However, the advantages of these more flexible arrangements have also necessitated a fresh look at issues of governance and inclusion within the Major Groups structure. The post-Rio+20 period can also be characterised by a growing inter-sectoral collaboration between Major Groups and other stakeholders that has yielded some tangible partnerships and new forms of cooperation.
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