Rio+20: Citizens are Drivers of Meaningful Transformation

The Rio+20 forum witnessed unique vibrancy and rich debates as development planners converged in Brazil, keen to provide strategic leadership beyond 2015 when the Millennium Development Goals are expected to culminate. The forum aimed to create space for civil society voices to engage in post-2015 processes and acquire the lessons learnt by civil society organisations during preparatory processes in order to build a strong multi-stakeholder consultative process. Topics discussed focused on the three main development pillars namely, environmental protection, economic prosperity and social inclusion.

ACORD's Ousainou Ngum (left) discussing the CDC Model during Rio+20 Conference in Brazil. Photo: Salina/ACORD

At a Rio+20 focus group session titled ‘The Role of Sustainable Development Goals in the Post-2015 Framework', the concept of Citizen-Driven Change, or CDC, was presented by ACORD as a viable alternative methodology that ensures the voices of local citizens are included in the critical process of developing a new framework for post 2015. In his submission to the participants, ACORD's Executive Director Mr. Ousainou Ngum explained that Citizen Driven Change is rights-based and provides room for citizen perspectives. It also acts as an open and scalable platform that addresses domains as opposed to sectors.

The concept has been inspired by evidence from studies by ACORD and its partners, as well as global social trends demonstrating that real transformative power rests with the citizenry and remains mostly under-utilised or misused for destructive purposes.

"Recent events that have captured the imagination of billions of people such as the Arab Spring, the emergence of powerful criminal syndicates and the use of technology platforms for social networking like Facebook and twitter, point towards the increasingly important role that citizen-driven processes will play in the future", noted Mr. Ngum.

"In these circumstances, the centers of power and decision-making become completely incapacitated and ineffective. In effect, a complete takeover of power ensues"

As also shared during the session, the concept of Citizen Driven Change distinguishes between aided and unaided change and recognises multiple knowledge and communication authorities. It also offers power in political processes rather than structures and equity of political agency representing all parts of the poor citizenry and marginalised groups including the middle classes and the elite.

During discussions at the summit, most participants strongly felt that while setting global goals, the need to consider inclusiveness and transparency was paramount in order to ensure that real needs are addressed. They also shared the recommendation to include domains which previously had been inconclusively addressed by the MDGs such as fields of human rights and governance.

As a follow up to this, and also aimed to build a foundation for wider engagement with like-minded development practitioners, ACORD will present the CDC model at an academic conference to be held in Italy on 11 July 2012. The Rio+20 process will contribute to the ongoing global efforts towards accelerating the attainment of the MDGs and designing of a road map for the future in the context of a Post-2015 development framework.

Related information resources:
Opportunities for Development Beyond 2015
Dakar Declaration (.pdf): english | french

  • post2015
  • united nations
  • African voices

    "The consultative process ensures that the voices of the excluded and marginalised groups are captured into the final framework that will be presented to the United Nations General Assembly in September 2013", Uka Kumba Thompson - Women of Liberia Peace Network.

    "Africa still grapples with serious governance and socio-economic issues, and a people-centred approach in bringing about change should therefore be encouraged in the process of setting up new targets and goals beyond 2015.
    Hon. James Musomi, Rwandan Minister for Local Government.

    "It is incumbent upon us who have been there before to try to hand over the baton in a manner in which we can hit the ground running in 2015"
    Amina Mohamed, Special Adviser of the UN Secretary General on the Post 2015 development agenda

    "The vision that people want Africa, and indeed the global community to aspire to, is an Africa where citizens have the power to effect decisions that affect their lives; have access to equal opportunities; and enjoy an enabling environment to sustain their livelihoods.
    Namhla Mniki-Mangaliso, African Monitor