Financing for Development Hearings
ISSUES: Finance for Development & sub-issues
GOALS: Identify viable proposals, innovative ideas, action-oriented suggestions for the FFD process
PARTICIPATING STAKEHOLDERS: NGOs, business
TIME FRAME: July Nov 2000 (Hearings) Feb 2001 2nd PrepComm (summary reports) Sept 2001 (UNU book publication)
MSP CONTACT DETAILS; URL: Financing for Development Coordinating Secretariat, Two United Nations Plaza, DC2-2336, New York NY 10017, USA, Fax: (212) 963-0443, Tel: (212) 963-8497, web-site: http://www.un.org/esa/ffd
It is questionable if this is an MSP as hearings were held separately from each other with NGOs and business, respectively.
Designing the MSP
Initial idea was sparked by a precedent: in the FfD process before the GA decision to have the event, there were formal hearings in the GA 2nd committee (in 1998/99)
At the organisational 1st PrepComm, the Secretariat suggested modalities of civil society involvement in the process: dialogues (modeled after CSD dialogues) or hearings. Nobody really pushed the csd model, because nobody really knew the CSD example and there was concern about the amount of resources required to run a dialogue process similar to CSD, also concerns about the burden being put on delegates in terms of preparatory papers, etc
Identifying the issues to be addressed in an MSP
Issues were pre-defined as the issues of the FfD process, based on decisions by the GA and the FfD Bureau. Participants chose which of these issues they wanted to address.
Identifying relevant stakeholders
Based on a broad definition of civil society by FfD Bureau; included were NGOs and business. NGOs also included women; trade unions and academics were also included.
Identifying MSP participants
Slightly different strategies were necessary to identify participants from the NGO and the business community.
The process started by identifying possible panelists via the following means, starting July 2000:
1. contacting the network of NGOs which was small at that time: those who participated at the 1st PrepComm (10 NGOs) and some more;
2. sending information to relevant list serves;
3. Issuing ad personam invitations (20 35 people), identified by secretariat (DESA), UNDP, WB and NGLS
It then took some time for people to respond; by September 2000 there were few confirmations following was a rather frantic time finding panelists and alternates between Sept and Nov 2000.
Potential participants were then required to submit outlines of the planned presentations. These were then reviewed within the FfD Secreteriat by the NGO Focal Point and colleagues knowledgable on the various issues. Selection criteria were: critical approaches; innovative ideas; possible policy recommendations; balance by gender & region. The Secretariat made suggestions into which panel potential participants would fit.
The decision was taken by the FfD Bureau.
NGOs: 23 panelists in the end, including 1 trade union representative and 1 academic (of an initially longer list of academics), and women.
Business: Achieving the goal of regional and gender balance was difficult, particularly because the process was supposed to be very open. Getting successful and available business representatives to participate is a problem (you rather find either / or). After submission of the first drafted list to the Bureau, the Bureau required that more developing countries business representatives should be identified. The hearings had only one North American business representative. The process of identifiying business people was more top-down than with the NGOs. There was more active search required by the UN. It was difficult to find interested business people (in the traditional sense), and people who would trigger ideas rather than make requests.
Setting the goals of an MSP
The goals were set by the 1st PrepComm, the FfD Bureau and Secretariat (making suggestions). The goals were to have a process as broad and open as possible.
The hearings organised by the GA in 1994 served as the model. No new organisational grounds were covered; hence the process was labelled "hearing".
Setting the agenda
The FfD Bureau set the agenda. NGO format: all panelists spoke, followed by questions and answers. Business format: Questions and answers after each panelist's presentation.
Setting the time-table
Initial idea was to invite both groups, NGOs and business, for the same dates. There was resistance from the business community towards that, and it was decided to hold the NGO and business hearings separately.
Participants were required to send their papers well in advance, about 50 % of them did. It would have been better if more of the presentations would have been circulated well in advance.
Hearings were held as face to face meetings with questions and answers following the presentations. Room for discussion was limited as some people's presentations were too long so that their was little time left. As stakeholder groups did not participate at the same time (business and NGo hearings separate), there was no discussion between business and NGO representatives at the hearings.
There are diverse views regarding government participation some view it as little (with no real interactive component), some as significant. This also seems to be depending on the respective issues being addressed. Some governments feel they do not need to enter discussions at the hearings as they perceive the process as an informative input into intergovernmental negotiations.
The process did not have space for meta-communication (but some people view that as advisable).
Decision-making process: procedures of agreement
There is no agreement being sought as this is an informative process providing input into subsequent intergovernmental deliberations.
There is implementation process being sought at this point. Implementation will depend upon decisions coming out of the intergovernmental FfD process, to be finalised by March 2002.
Closing the MSP
The FfD hearings were a one-off.
However, most likely the process of civil society input is not over. There might be more, maybe at the international, maybe at regional levels. This will depend on decisions to be taken at the 2nd PrepComm will go, what requests it will generate towards the FfD Secretariat to organise further procedures of stakeholder involvement, such as round tables on certain issues (for further exploration) or panels on issues where the documents are rather weak so far.
In the FfD Bureau, the idea of a "task force on business" is under discussion; this would aim to design a follow-up process with the private sector.
Structures / institutions of the MSP
UN DESA / Finance for Development Secretariat
The FfD process has a 15 member Bureau, with 2 Co-chairs at ambassador level. The Co-chairs alternated chairing the hearings.
The Co-chairs (and other Bureau members) worked all week on the hearings, starting Sunday morning with a 4 hour briefing with participants, with Bureau members making presentations and expectations; then the hearings themselves; then more events. This was viewed as very significant engagement and involvement of the governments present.
The hearings also triggered increased NGO involvement (10 at 1st PrepComm; 100 registered for 2nd PrepComm by January 2001).
In the FfD Secretariat, 1 person is working on this process (NGO Focal Point), with help from a person in NGLS and help by people within Secretariat who are knowledgable on certain issues, eg when reviewing submitted outlines of presentations.
The goal is to publish the hearings outcomes as objective as possible. Documentation is as follows:
Relating to not-participating stakeholders
Information is publicly available via the FfD web-site. NGOs have been disseminating information to their constituencies and networks. Feeing into the preparations of presentations was possible but dependent on the process of preparation chosen by the participants there was more or less consultation (difficult to assess as this information was not requested by the process).
Relating to the general public
Information is publicly available via the FfD web-site. Feeding into the process by the general public difficult; interested people would need to get in touch with people and organisations involved.
Linkage into official decision-making process
The role in the FfD process: The hearings have been the starting point of bringing substance into the process; the 1st PrepComm was only organisational.
It will be for government delegates to pick up what the summary reports offer (as is true for the SG's reports). It is up to the intergovernmental process to bring the initiatives together. It is difficult to say if the reports will be interesting for delegates. People who judge the hearings as well attended believe the reports will be used.
There was also sometimes a sense of complicity between G77 and NGOs but it is not foreseeable how that will play out in the negotiations. NGOs are now organising briefings to increase understanding of certain issues, especially for delegates; steps forward are possible and likely, but it doesnt only depend on the preparatory papers negotiations are different.
The hearings were funded out of the FfD Trust Fund and by Nordic country governments. UNDP provided travel funding for 3 panelists, the FfD Secretariat for 7. The UK government supported panelists' per diem and funded 7-8 NGOs to attend. Business representatives from developing countries were also funded (4-5 people).
[ information gathered as of 16 February 2001 ]