The 68th United Nations Civil Society Conference (UNCSC 2019)
BUILDING INCLUSIVE AND SUSTAINABLE CITIES AND COMMUNITIES
26 – 28 August 2019. Salt Lake City, Utah, USA
The 68th United Nations Civil Society Conference (UNCSC 2019) was held in Salt Lake City, Utah from 26 – 28 August 2019 that deliberated on “Building Inclusive and Sustainable Cities and Communities” based on Sustainable Development Goal 11 (SDG11): Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable. The theme is considered is very relevant due to the rapid growth in cities and urban settlements, which is expected to rise by 68% by 2050. SDG11 calls forth for collaboration between governments and stakeholders at the local, national and global levels and those of us working on the ground know well the importance of collaboration and participation.
UNCSC 2019 is said to be the most attended with over 5000 participants from all walks of life representing UN entities and civil society groups. Throughout the conference it was more than clear that SDG 11 is so very connected with other SDGs which were highlighted by thematic sessions, workshops, youth climate declaration and civil society outcome document. Salt Lake City was the first city, other than New York to host such a conference in the United States and made the entire experience a positive one for all the visitors through their planning and effective implementation, prior to and during the conference.
Some of the themes focused were, impacts of climate change, migration, importance of multilateralism, good practices highlighting the collaboration between governments and civil society, and role of civil society as the need of the hour. In the opening video message by the UN Secretary General, António Guterres stressed on the importance of well-planned and managed cities for inclusive growth and harmony among diverse people. These themes are highlighted in the Outcome Document of the Conference, which was deliberated through the civil society organizations, an effort in which VIVAT also participated. was adopted at the closing session.
Youth participation was enlivening from the preparatory stage. Youth Climate Change Declaration 2019 shows their commitment to change (https://outreach.un.org/ngorelations/content/youth-climate-compact-0 ).
Seven VIVAT members participated in the UNCSC 2019. Holy Cross Sisters, living and working in Salt Lake City through their Congregational Justice Coordinator Florence Deacon OSF, played an important role in planning for the workshop during the conference along with New York Office and VIVAT members in USA. The theme chosen for the workshop resonated with their commitment to integrating migrants into inclusive and peaceful communities. The panel, moderated by Florence Deacon had three resource persons, namely Myrna Trillo MCSC, Emmie Gardner CEO of Holy Cross Ministries and Veronica Fajardo CSC, Peace House with a brief introduction on Global Compact on Migration and civil society action by Helen Saldanha. Rose Therese Nolta SSpS, Province JPIC Coordinator of the Holy Spirit Missionary Sisters recorded the minutes of the event. NGO Committee on Migration (a network of over 55 UN NGOs) and many UN NGO organizations cosponsored and supported this workshop.
In conclusion I would like to say that UN Civil Society Conference, is an opportunity to dialogue, reflect and deliberate on the role and contribution civil society to the world. This is a space for interaction on different issues. Civil Society Unit of UN Department of Global Communications, throughout the year and most specifically through these biennial conferences provides space for dialogue between government and nongovernmental initiatives, and delves into important issues such as people’s participation, multilateralism, inclusion of civil society, and SDGs.