Glossary

The sheer diversity and scope of stakeholder engagement practices across the UN system has meant that a vast number of new terms have emerged describing similar processes in different ways.

The SEP has established a glossary that provides a set of definitions describing our understanding of key terms. 

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Agenda 21: Agenda 21 was adopted by more than 178 Governments at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) held in Rio de Janerio, Brazil, in June 1992. It is a comprehensive plan of action to be taken globally, nationally and locally by organizations of the United Nations System, Governments, and Major Groups in every area in which human activity impacts on the environment[1]. The first United Nations (UN) document to address extensively the role of different stakeholders in the implementation of a global agreement[2], its contents outline the areas (highlighting specific social, economic and resource conservation and management issues) that stakeholder groups need to address in order to put the blueprint into practice.

Civil society: The definition of civil society is highly context dependent across UN agencies and programmes. The UN General Assembly defines civil society in the Cardoso Report as “associations of citizens (outside their families, friends and businesses) entered into voluntarily to advance their interests, ideas and ideologies”, and specifies that this excludes profit-making (the private sector) or governing (the public sector) activities[3]. In line with this definition, UNHabitat and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) list the Private Sector as a partner distinct from those of civil society, and governments and local authorities[4]. In contrast however, business is included in both the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development’s (UNCTAD) and the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) broad definitions of civil society[5]. In addition, Business and Industry constitute one of the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Division for Sustainable Development’s (UNDESA) nine Major Groups of civil society[6], as so Local Authorities, a classification that the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)[7] adheres to.

Civil Society Organisation (CSO): The United Nations on its Civil Society web page states that the UN system has significant informal and formal arrangements with civil society organizations, which are “collectively known as non-governmental organizations (NGOs).[8]“ CSOs are recognised as playing key roles at major UN conferences and seen as indispensable partners for UN efforts at the country level. UNCTAD for example recognises CSOs for their role in bringing awareness to the general population and giving a human face to development[9], and the UNDP for their influence in policymaking and performing watchdog functions[10]. In recognition of these roles, the UN works to promote the emergence of CSOs in developing countries.

Constituency:  Until recently, central governments as the Member States of the United Nations were regarded as collectively constituting the UN constituency. In 2004 a report by the Panel of Eminent Persons on United Nations–Civil Society Relations suggested that “others actors of growing importance to the deliberative processes, operations and communications of the United Nations[11]” be viewed also as stakeholders of the Organization’s processes, giving formal recognition to civil society, the private sector and the State as comprising three broad sectors of the UN constituency.


[1] United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs Division for Sustainable Development, Agenda 21 http://www.un.org/esa/sustdev/documents/agenda21/index.htm (Accessed <st1:date year="2008" day="18" month="12" w:st="on">Dec 18, 2008</st1:date>)

 

[2] Hemmati, M. (2001). Multi-Stakeholder Processes for Governance and Sustainability - Beyond Deadlock and Conflict http://www.minuhemmati.net/publi/msp%20book/chap1.pdf (Accessed <st1:date year="2008" day="19" month="12" w:st="on">Dec 19, 2008</st1:date>)

 

[3] United Nations General Assembly (June 2004) We the peoples: civil society, the United Nations and

global governance Report of the Panel of Eminent Persons on United Nations–Civil Society Relations http://www.globalpolicy.org/reform/initiatives/panels/cardoso/0611report.pdf (Accessed <st1:date month="12" day="19" year="2008" w:st="on">December 19, 2008</st1:date>)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

[11] United Nations General Assembly (June 2004) We the peoples: civil society, the United Nations and

global governance Report of the Panel of Eminent Persons on United Nations–Civil Society Relations http://www.globalpolicy.org/reform/initiatives/panels/cardoso/0611report.pdf (Accessed <st1:date year="2008" day="19" month="12" w:st="on">December 19, 2008</st1:date>)