Thank you, Madame Chair,
I am a part of my country’s delegation. But I also represent Norwegian civil society, and I’m honored by the opportunity to speak today.
Inclusive participation and a vibrant discussion is key – not only to our VNR processes and SDG follow-up – but in the day-to-day efforts for sustainable development.
Governments are primary duty bearers to deliver on the promise of Agenda 2030 and on universal human rights. But working in isolation we will not achieve sustainable development. Success hinges on a strong and equal partnership between all stakeholders, at all levels in society. Governments, civil society, the private sector, independent media, labor unions and employers’ organizations, academic institutions, children and youth. We all play a unique role in achieving the SDGs.
Promoting and protecting freedom of expression is an urgent and long-term priority for Norway. It is therefore concerning to see that, instead of barriers to inclusive participation being torn down, new barriers are purposefully being erected.
We are alarmed by the attacks against civil society, human rights and environmental rights defenders and indigenous peoples happening in many parts of the world. It disturbs us greatly to see that in many countries, freedoms of expression, association and assembly are being restricted.
These trends must urgently be reversed. Human rights and environmental rights defenders – including children and youth fighting for their own rights, must be protected, not attacked. Enabling environments must be ensured, so that civil society can safely participate and hold governments and others to account.
It is the right thing to do. But it is also the smart thing to do if we want to achieve the SDGs.