Record Number of Participants to Attend Sixty-Fourth Annual United Nations DPI/NGO Conference in Bonn, Germany, 3-5 September
BONN — The sixty-fourth annual Conference of Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) affiliated with the United Nations Department of Public Information (DPI) has attracted an unprecedented number of registered participants from more than 100 countries and territories.
With more than 2,200 registered participants from hundreds of organizations around the world expected in Bonn, Germany, from 3 to 5 September, the Conference has set a new attendance record for DPI/NGO conferences.
By choosing the theme “Sustainable Societies: Responsive Citizens”, NGOs are reaffirming civil society’s role in addressing critical current issues and identifying the linkages necessary to address them. Participants will examine best practices and how to change consumption and production patterns; the links between green economy and poverty eradication; and the role of civic engagement and voluntary action in achieving sustainable development.
On the final day, the Conference is expected to adopt a declaration containing views, concerns and recommendations on sustainable development and volunteerism. The final declaration will also reflect the expectations of the NGO participants and civil society leaders for “Rio+20”, the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development scheduled for 4-6 June 2012 in Brazil, and the General Assembly’s upcoming plenary discussions on the International Year of Volunteers+10, to take place in December 2011.
Felix Dodds, Chair of the DPI/NGO Conference and Executive Director of the Stakeholder Forum for Sustainable Future, is a well known activist on sustainable development and the author of several books on biodiversity, climate change and energy insecurity. As a Co-Chair of the Conference Planning Committee, he has been actively involved in the planning process from the very beginning. “This Conference is of great importance to the NGO community as a major civil society contribution to next year’s Rio+20 Conference,” he said ahead of the Conference. “It will address the critical issues of our time and express civil society views and recommendations which we expect Governments to pay attention to.”
While recognizing the additional challenges and constraints created by the financial crisis, “the parallels of the ecological problems with the financial crisis are clear”, Mr. Dodds added. “The banks and financial institutions privatized the gains and socialized the losses. The culture of consumerism is doing the same with the planet and its natural capital. We are increasingly becoming the most irresponsible generation this planet has ever seen. The principal goal of our economies should be to improve the lives of all of the world’s people, free them from want and ignorance, without compromising the planet itself.”
In previous conferences, the host country circulated the final declaration to Member States and shared it with the Secretary-General and the President of the General Assembly. The Bonn Conference is also expected to adopt a call to action for civil society, Member States and the international community.
The Planning Committee has been active in ensuring that there is wide consensus both from the NGOs involved in sustainable development and those promoting volunteerism and connecting the dots between the two concepts. Sustainable societies need responsive citizens who commit, encourage and volunteer. Conference Chair Dodds noted that volunteerism has been one of the driving forces behind the birth of the modern environmental movement, and that the Bonn Conference would also reaffirm the importance of a healthy environment for both development objectives and the overall well-being of local communities.
With a packed programme of four round tables, 38 NGO-led workshops, 23 exhibitions and several special events being held on the margins of the Conference, the event will offer NGOs as well as civil society activists in the fields of environment, development and volunteerism a unique opportunity to examine emerging issues, and to come up with new and innovative ideas to address both Rio+20 and the General Assembly’s December plenary meetings.
Maher Nasser, Director of the Department of Public Information’s Outreach Division, who has overseen preparations for the Conference on the United Nations side, said he was very impressed with the enthusiasm, energy and dedication of all those partnering with the Department to ensure the event’s success. Without the hospitality and strong backing from the Government of Germany and the City of Bonn, the full engagement and support of the United Nations Volunteer programme and that of the NGO/DPI Executive Committee, it would not have been possible to hold the Conference.
The premier event of the NGO year, the Conference has been held outside its traditional home at New York Headquarters for the past four years in an effort to attract greater diversity among the United Nations NGO community. It has moved from Paris, where the theme was human rights, to Mexico, where the focus was on disarmament, to Australia, where global health took the spotlight. This year’s theme, sustainable development, is adding attention to a topic which the Secretary-General has made a priority of his second term.
For detailed information and a live webcast of the opening and closing ceremonies, the lunch-time panel discussions, as well as the round table proceedings, please visit the Conference website at www.un.org/dpingoconference.
For additional information, please contact Maria-Luisa Chavez, Chief of the NGO Relations Section, e-mail: email@example.com; or Gail Bindley-Taylor Sainte, Information Officer in the NGO Relations Section, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.