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SDG:All Stakeholders Participate in Decision Making at All Levels with regard to Sustainable Development

The following SDG was developed by the Commons Clusterand submitted to the UN via NGLS for the July 12, 2013 deadline with the following introduction:

The NGO Major Group Commons Cluster of ECOSOC accredited NGOs and Commons Action for the United Nations are suggesting SDGs, Targets and Indicators that will

  • Underscore that the gifts of nature and society rightfully belong to all of us and should thus be developed and used for the benefit of nature and all people.
  • Help humanity fulfill its agreements made in the area of sustainability to date, implement our human rights; eradicate poverty and foster a healthy environment.
  • Further encourage and inspire the millions of people around the globe who are already helping to create a more sustainable world; and coordinate their actions

This can best be achieved through involving all stakeholders in the management and restoration of our commons resources.

It will be further developed by this Group as needed.

It is divided as follows:

1. Title

2. Rationale

3. Targets with Indicators

4. Reflections and Implementation

Proposed SDG:


All stakeholders Participate in Decision making at All Levels in the Area of Sustainable Development in a Manner that is Coherent and Integrated at All Levels.



a. Since our capacity to develop sustainably depends on the sum of all actions by all people, it is important that all stakeholders participate in making decisions about natural and social resources at all levels, as relevant.

b. Since all stakeholders are involved in sustainable development to some degree from local to global levels in the areas of the economy, society and the environment, their participation in decision making in the diverse contexts and at diverse levels will ensure an integration both of stakeholders and of the issues they are involved in.

c. When people consciously manage those resources that they and their children depend on for their survival and well-being, they are prone to take good care of them.

Targets and Indicators

Target 1: All stakeholders participate in decision making at all levels with regard to the fruits of nature and society that they need to survive and thrive[i].

Indicator 1a

  • Proportion of decisions made by stakeholders from local to global levels on matters relating to the management of natural and social resources (including traditional knowledge and human rights) needed by them for their well-being of the total made by the public or private sectors.

Indicator 1b

  • Proportion of administrative regions in a country that provide citizens with opportunities to participate in discussion and decision making on matters relating to the management of natural and social resources (including traditional knowledge and human rights) needed by them for their well-being.

Indicator 1c.

Ratio of decisions made by Indigenous Peoples regarding their lands; their people and their resources to those made by others about the territories under Indigenous jurisdiction.[ii]


Target 2: All people in a country receive education that prepares them to make informed decisions, including on relevant human rights and other agreements .[iii] 

Indicator 2 a

  • Proportion of people of and above decision making age who have access to the means of acquiring relevant information and for communication with local, regional and global governance structures i.e. computers in villages, etc.


Target 3: All people have access to a means of voting without being coerced

Indicator 1.3a

  • Proportion of citizens who have access to a voting facility where according to their own views they can vote without being coerced.

          Indicator 1.3b.

  • Ratio of number of polling stations where voting can be observed by impartial outside/foreign observers to those where voting is not accessible to impartial outside observers.


Target 4: All stakeholders have access to those social and natural goods that they need to survive and thrive and can be used by them within limits agreed to by all stakeholders.

Indicator 4a

Ratio of natural resources (lands, water, forests and biodiversity, etc.) within a country that are accessible to all stakeholders to those under private ownership that limits access.This indicator does not relate to Indigenous lands that are by rights under the jurisdiction of the Peoples concerned.[iv]


Target 5: All stakeholders receive the education necessary to manage the natural and social resources they need to survive and prosper sustainably. Since we are dealing with challenges that change over time and for which there are no ready solutions, it is important to involve everyone in thinking and experimenting with best practices, so that when a tipping point is reached, the alarm can be sounded around the world.

Indicator 5 a

Proportion of people in a country engaged in consultations on sustainable management of natural and social goods.


Target 6: A Universal Charter of Human Responsibilities is adopted and implemented;

Indicator 6 a. Proportion of decisions made by stakeholders that are in keeping with the Universal Charter of Responsibilities.


For more information:

Reflections on Complexities and Implementation of


Comprehensive Participation in Decision Making


1. National Sustainable Development Councils (NSDCs) and National Strategies for Sustainable Development (NSSD) call for including all stakeholders in the consultations, design and implementation processes in matters relating to sustainable development.

SDG, Targets and Indicators, relating to participation in decision making could serve as a primary means for further developing the work of Sustainable Development Councils and Strategies, integrating this with all other governmental processes, and ensuring that all processes are integrated from the local to the global level, across all sectors and throughout the 3 pillars of sustainable development. They would also serve as a means to integrate citizens at all levels in the work of the Councils.

Such processes could moreover be established through the ongoing development and implementation of the 10 Year Framework of Programmes and the Local, Regional and National Action Plans on Sustainable Consumption and Production. If the SDG, Participation in Decision Making is fully implemented, it could provide the incentives and initiatives that are needed in order to transition to a truly sustainable economy. 

2. The need to involve people everywhere in decision making in the area of sustainable development is embedded in a multitude of International Agreements:

The Future We Want states in para 43:

We underscore that broad public participation and access to information and

judicial and administrative proceedings are essential to the promotion of sustainable

development. Sustainable development requires the meaningful involvement and

active participation of regional, national and subnational legislatures and judiciaries,

and all major groups: women, children and youth, indigenous peoples,

non-governmental organizations, local authorities, workers and trade unions,

business and industry, the scientific and technological community, and farmers, as

well as other stakeholders, including local communities, volunteer groups and

foundations, migrants and families as well as older persons and persons with

disabilities. In this regard, we agree to work more closely with the major groups and

other stakeholders and encourage their active participation, as appropriate, in

processes that contribute to decision-making, planning and implementation of

policies and programmes for sustainable development at all levels.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights:

The Preamble states that it is the responsibility and privilege of "every individual and every organ of society, keeping this Declaration constantly in mind, to strive by teaching and education to promote respect for these rights and freedoms and by progressive measures, national and international, to secure their universal and effective recognition and observance…" 

Article 21 of the Universal Declaration states that "Everyone has the right to take part in the government of his country, directly or through freely chosen representatives; … and the will of the people shall be the basis of the authority of government….." 


It is put forward in the Rio Declaration as the fundamental goal of "establishing a new and equitable global partnership through the creation of new levels of cooperation among States, key sectors of societies and people, working towards international agreements which respect the interests of all and protect the integrity of the global environmental and developmental system." 

3. A Word of Caution:

A long history of positive human goals and values is offset by a similar long history of great human incompetence in pursuing them. While mental and spiritual development can be pursued indefinitely without negative consequences, the pursuit of material development can result in exhausting and destabilizing the entire planet we live on, unless people feel directly responsible for safeguarding those fruits of nature on which their own and their children’s survival rests. This underscores the great importance of this SDG: Participation in decision making will help to safeguard nature                           

4.An Expanded Approach to Education

The need to create a sustainable world with input from all stakeholders is driving us into uncharted territory. Yet the very fact that people are now communicating across geographical, linguistic and national boundaries provides an opportunity for us to tap the creativity and versatility of people who have had to find solutions to the most diverse challenges and can share their expertise with others. All are have thus become potential teachers and all will have to become students.

For instance, when intervening in the earth’s ecology, we might turn to the Head of the biology department from Kinshasa University in DRC, who teaches his students to unlearn bad fishing practices, how to save the damage to the watershed in Africa and how to offer sustainable learning to urban peoples.  His teachings were subsequently adopted in Ethiopia to assist in protecting the Nile River Watershed and fish life.  The practice and learning technique was surprisingly simple. It took applying his traditional knowledge as an Indigenous Man who grew up in the rainforest as a young boy to save the Nile basis and Congo River Fish life, coral,  and plankton. 

It is important to note how merging traditional knowledge and university credibility can offer great opportunities for change and transformation. Especially Indigenous Peoples have the access to two very important sectors: humanity and planet mother earth and could initiate a fast track to transformation.  

People in every part of society including the very young have access to creativity and diverse forms of know-how and insight. All this must be tapped if we are to foster a sustainable global world.

People throughout society who have something to offer could be identified and included into a Commons Best Practice Cooperative Implementation Initiative, perhaps as a part of the Commons Abundance Network (See

The initiatives developed under the UN Decade on Education for Sustainable Development could also provide an excellent opportunity both to prepare citizens to engage in governmental, planning and managerial decision making processes and also to provide them with much of the information needed to engage in sustainable development processes. The three-step process mentioned under 6(Rob, did I interpret this correctly?) ought to be integrated altogether along with the development and use of the SDGs, Targets and Indicators so that we develop a coherent and cohesive framework and plan of action that involves all stakeholders at all levels in a truly effective manner. 

5. Environmental degradation is created by two interlinked causes:

  1. It is the over-consumption of the wealthy and powerful people, often caused by spiritual poverty that can not be satiated through accumulation of material wealth that becomes an unending drain on natural resources which then become unavailable to other members of society. It is here (mostly in the Western World and the upper echelons of the developing world) where the greatest unlearning and re-education is needed. The daily habits and choices of those who overconsume are being financed by the poor both in developed and developing nations;(Comment: We have the very wealthy both in the West and also in many developing countries—i.e First World in the Third World. It is important to be accurate and to avoid an us/them frame of reference, ie one class as opposed to another class) We need to address that squarely. The earth is being harmed more quickly by the literate; not those without literacy. That is most certainly part of the problem.
  2. The over-consumption at the same time leads to an escalating gap between rich and poor and an increase in marginalization. The poor then see no alternative but to degrade the environment to meet their basic needs. The Global Ecovillage Network is teaching poor villagers to meet their needs without harming nature.

6. Humanity must learn to identify ???(Become an integral part of??)with the sustainable livelihood of their ecological and environmental landscape and to recognize there are systems that support us whose intricacies we do not understand and which we disrupt nonetheless. This can be seen as a new, much needed form of literacy.

It is important to learn what is best suited to be kept local; and what should be dealt with regionally and globally. Implementation can then proceed at international, regional, national, local levels and overseen by migrating teams of Indigenous and other learned and trained experts who know how to identify sustainable ecological and environment landscapes and can help us to establish best practices. (Myra, did I catch this point accurately. Otherwise please do change it.)

A three-step process to encompass nature more in how we conceived of the SDGs

When we begin by looking at how nature and its ecosystems work, we get a much more realistic manner of seeing reality and the way we view the SDG, its targets and indicators. To this end, we have begun to adopt a 3-step process.

The first step is stating the ideal outcomes we might envision, for “the world we want”, and second to discuss the related environments, the complex social, economic and ecological conditions and active forces, and how different changes might cause them to react. At that point it seemed our perspective changed and we were able to propose plausible interventions for advancing the ideal in the real environment.  The outcome was totally different from proposals merely to advocate the ideal.  They introduce proposals for practical action that would make the ideal more possible. (See for instance the formulation of Target 5.) (Jesse, I have changed the Target 5 in the light of what you write here)

 4.Restoration of human values. Values must be identified for them to have relevance within the Rio Outcome Document ( I am not sure which document is meant) These could include: traditional knowledge values, respect for planet mother earth's natural resources (waters lakes, creeks, brooks, rivers, seas and oceans), environment and elements, animal life, vegetation, children, women, ete.

There should be the capacity to measure real needs to offset the forces that manufacture wants that, in turn, are devoted to stimulating consumerism and a fascination with the superficial aspects of life. Here once more spiritual poverty leads to unsatiable appetite often for material possessions and thus material poverty.(Myra, did I catch this point accurately. Otherwise please do change it.)

There are two ways of getting to know our natural environment and our fellow human beings:

i. By being mindful and truthful as well as

ii. practical and economic.

Both are important.

5. More informed decision making processes could be fostered through: student directed inquiry; whole systems analysis; discouraging or eliminating things that cause the displacement of indigenous cultures and language.

6. Human Affect is an NGO participating in the Commons Cluster. Its "Policy In Action" has implemented an initiative that assists in training rural and indigenous peoples in how to collect data and then drop it into an internationally based portal for statistical ratio's which can then be utilized to better implement human rights learning "best practices"  while offering a healing mechanism.(Akiwa, could you expand just a little on this to show how human rights and healing relate to collection of information?

[i] This would include ensuring that all people's basic human needs can be met in such a way that there is no further harm done to the natural environment; and that those social and natural goods that people need to survive and thrive are accessible to and used by them within limits agreed to by all stakeholders.


[ii]  See:

Article 3: Indigenous peoples have the right to self-determination. By virtue of that right they freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development.

Article 4 Indigenous peoples, in exercising their right to self-determination, have the right to autonomy or self-government in matters relating to …(Akiwa could you please complete this sentence?).

Article 5 peoples have the right to maintain and strengthen their distinct political, legal, economic, social and cultural institutions, while retaining their right to participate fully, if they so choose, in the political, economic, social and cultural life of the State.

Article 6 Every indigenous individual has the right to a nationality.


[iii] Education must involve learning from one another. For instance, it is important to acknowledge the earth's economics and those indigenous societies who live intimately within the natural systems of the earth reaping enormous benefits in health, cooperation and longevity. Such communities can provide a guide for earth citizens elsewhere  and enable them to bring their local communities into alignment within the ecological regions they occupy. Note: many such cultures live in harsh climates whereas in the western world many live in climatic zones that are often temperate and much less severe. Imagine what we can learn.


Also these societies by GDP standards have no value, yet they are not living in poverty at all.This is yet another indication that living on $2.00 per day, is not the indicator that will bring forth the transformation needed across all domains of societal life. The measure of true value is the health and wellbeing of all life exhibited in that society and the health of the environment in which lives are interdependent.)


[iv] In the Gambia many villages have a center for  telecommunications that is accessible to all villagers and people in the outlying areas.


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