Why civil society matters

The Civil Society Unit at UN Environment is committed to partnering with Major Groups and Stakeholders in order to ensure transparency and inclusiveness in the intergovernmental decision-making process at UN Environment. It has been mandated to engage with accredited civil society organizations such as not-for-profit organizations, networks, and associations in contrast to single businesses or individuals, who bring to the table, valuable research, and expertise and advocacy functions. These allies and partners to UN Environment provide long-term, broad-based and essential support for UN Environment’s mission and mandate.

UN Environment strives to ensure an effective and balanced participation of Major Groups and Stakeholders as they play a central role in providing expertise and relevant knowledge. They also channel the voices of those most likely to be directly affected by environmental problems and related policies and calls needed attention to emerging issues as they reach out to their respective communities and the public at large.

Recognizing the crucial role of civil society, member governments, endorsed UN Environment’s practice of organizing the Global Major Groups and Stakeholders Forum (GMGSF) - in conjunction with the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA). The Global Major Groups and Stakeholders Forum aims to inform civil society stakeholders of current and future UN Environment policies and to provide a platform where representatives from Major Groups can exchange views and develop common ground in preparation to contribute to the policy dialogues at a multi-stakeholder level during UNEA. The Forum is preceded by preparatory Regional Consultative Meetings (RCMs) among Civil Society to ensure regional perspectives on all the UN Environment mandates are included in the Environment Assembly.

The interaction between the UN Environment and civil society has grown significantly in the past decade and over 500 NGOs now have formal consultative status. Organizations who want to seize this opportunity and make their voice heard at the UN Environment can get directly involved by applying for Accreditation to the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA) of UN Environment, which grants them observer status to UNEA.