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Major Groups and other stakeholders have been granted comprehensive participatory opportunities in the HLPF through the UN General Assembly Resolution A/RES/67/290.
Paragraph 15 of the Resolution states that, while retaining the intergovernmental character of the HLPF, Major Groups representatives and other relevant stakeholders shall be allowed to:
Attend all official meetings of the forum;
Have access to all official information and documents;
Intervene in official meetings;
Submit documents and present written and oral contributions;
Organize side events and round tables, in cooperation with Member States and the Secretariat;
Additionally, the Resolution encourages Major Groups and other stakeholders, such as private philanthropic organizations, educational and academic entities, persons with disabilities, volunteer groups and other stakeholders active in areas related to sustainable development, to autonomously establish and maintain effective coordination mechanisms for participation in the HLPF 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.
The importance of substantively engaging the nine Major Groups was reaffirmed in the lead-up to and during the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20).
The outcome document of the Conference “The Future We Want” expressly addresses Major Groups role in pursuing sustainable societies for future generations.
Furthermore, 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.
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.
The 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) succeeded in integrating Major Groups even further into the intergovernmental process.
The Johannesburg Plan of Implementation devotes Section I of the Means of Implementation to the participation of major groups.
Member States should, as paragraph 168 reads, "enhance partnerships between governmental and non -governmental actors, including all major groups, as well as volunteer groups, on programmes and activities for the achievement of sustainable development at all levels".
Paragraph 169 acknowledges "the consideration being given to the possible relationship between environment and human rights, including the right to development, with full and transparent participation of Member States of the United Nations and observer States".
The promotion of youth participation in programmes and activities relating to sustainable development through, for example, supporting local youth councils or their equivalent, and by encouraging their establishment where they do not exist, is the focus of paragraph 170.
At the second session of the Commission on Sustainable Development, NGOs and Major Groups' representatives established the NGO Steering Committee to the UN CSD.
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.
In the context of establishing a facilitation mechanism to assist NGOs and major groups in maximizing 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).
Agenda 21 identifies nine Major Groups, namely Women, Children and Youth, Indigenous Peoples
Non-governmental organizations (NGOs), Local Authorities, Workers and Trade Unions, Business and Industry, Scientific and technological Community and Farmers.
In the preamble to Section III, Agenda 21 recognizes the commitment and genuine involvement of all social groups as critical to the effective implementation of the objectives, policies and mechanisms agreed to by Governments in all programme areas of the Agenda.
In this context, Agenda 21 identifies broad public participation in decision-making as "one of the fundamental prerequisites for the achievement of sustainable development and also acknowledges the emerging need, in the more specific context of environment and development," for new forms of participation.
Paragraph 23.2 reads:
"This includes the need of individuals, groups and organizations to participate in environmental impact assessment procedures and to know about and participate in decisions, particularly those which potentially affect the communities in which they live and work.
Individuals, groups and organizations should have access to information relevant to environment and development held by national authorities, including information on products and activities that have or are likely to have a significant impact on the environment, and information on environmental protection measures".
Asian-Pacific Resource and Research Centre for Women (ARROW)