Under the slogan “A million Voices: Building the world we want” the UN has carried out a number of initiatives to promote the dialogue, debate and consultation around the world about the Post-2015 Agenda. The UN said that they have collected the opinions from more than 1 million people across all countries through a number of consultative activities such as thematic seminars and national consultations.
Furthermore, the UN is carrying out the first Global Survey which has gathered more than 5 million participants up to now. The survey consists on a list of 18 development priorities among which people is asked to select their 6 preferred. The voting process can be done on-line. See here a summary video:
This is claimed to be a new source of data on development challenges and is part of the UN efforts to build an unprecedented participatory formulation frame of the post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Words like participation, inclusion, and voice are constantly repeated in articles, reports, websites and blogs when describing the post 2015 Agenda development process. But, What do we know about how to bring the perspectives of people living in poverty into global policy-making? The Institute of Development Studies (IDS) has launched a report that explores how previous global consultations have gathered people’s opinions but without succeeding in translating those into policies. They conclude that is not only about how people participate but also the way the voices from the margins are translated into policies.
The “magic tool” on participatory consultation for policy influence has not been invented yet. However, there is a certain level of agreement among development critics on some recommendations to follow.
- There is the imperative need to start by understanding the data collection from people’s perspectives that may or may not fit in a set of 18 development priorities. Besides, peoples’ needs and problems are not isolated and are framed within a context of reality than cannot be easily captured by a western-made collection tool-even if this tool is highly technologically advanced (Granqvist, M. at Hemer, O, 2005, pp. 285-296)
- Secondly, enough resources and time should be given for consultations to happen not just at the UN level or within the international large organizations but at the local grassroots civil society level. The cost of UN-driven consultative campaigns and traditional data collection initiatives overpasses by far the resources allocated to participatory projects from the margins.
- Finally, development actors should be open to innovative perspectives and methodologies on data collection. This is the case of Participate, a research initiative aiming at providing evidence on the reality of poverty bridging it with the global development debate. There are other projects already mentioned in this blog like Making all Voices Countwhich has also pioneering participatory strategies.
Granqvist, M (2005) Assessing ICT in Development: A critical Perspective. Hemer, Oscar & Tufte, Thomas Media and Glocal Change. Rethinking Communication for Development. Buenos Aires: CLACSO