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Grassroots Leaders Propose Recommendations for U.N.


Grassroots Leaders Propose Recommendations for U.N. Summit

"You will always be part of the Fordham family — a family that now has your wisdom to depend on," Joseph M. McShane, S.J., president of Fordham University, told the Community Commons participants in attendance at the forum.
Photo by Chris Taggart

Participants in the Community Commons, a three-day meeting of grassroots development leaders from 44 countries on Fordham University's Rose Hill campus, issued a list of recommendations to inform the upcoming U.N. summit on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), during a press conference at U.N. headquarters on June 20.

“We have traveled thousands of miles to come here to bridge the gap between the people who set the target [development goals] and those who are being targeted,” said Benson Venegas, who works on the Talamanca Initiative in Costa Rica. “We should be influencing the decisions that will affect our lives and our communities.”

Fordham and the United Nations Development Programme, along with several other agencies, organized the Community Commons, which was held from June 16 to 18, in the hopes that their recommendations will influence the Millennium Review Summit. During the summit, scheduled for Sept. 14 to 16, nearly 200 heads of state will meet at U.N. Headquarters to review progress made toward achieving the MDGs (anti-poverty objectives outlined in the U.N. Declaration of 2000) and to finalize a global development agenda for the next 10 years.

The 150 Community Commons participants met at Fordham to highlight best practices for sustainable development in local communities and to celebrate the role that local community members play in working to meet the MDGs.

The group is recommending to the United Nations, member states, multilateral organizations and other stakeholders that:

• Local communities play a leading role in planning and implementing the MDGs

• Stakeholders create a global learning fund to allow communities to share best practices and to fund pilot projects

• The MDGs legitimize community tenure security and communal access to and control over traditional and ancestral lands and waters

• The MDGs recognize and restore local traditional and indigenous knowledge systems and practices, and protect intellectual and communal property rights

• The MDGs appoint community task forces at the global, national and local levels to strategize, review progress of MDG implementation and make recommendations

• The MDGs convene dialogues on partnerships that enhance community access to finance, technologies, information and markets.

"These are the building blocks for local indigenous communities," said Gladman Chibememe, who works with CHIEHA in Zimbabwe and shared the recommendations of the Community Commons during Civil Society Hearings at the U.N. Headquarters on June 23. "We look forward to seeing the [Millennium Review Summit] develop practices and strategies that respect the local peoples' knowledge of their land, their systems, their innovations."

Community Commons participants will publish the best practices shared during the Fordham meeting, along with their recommendations, in a book to be distributed in time for the September summit.

— Michele Snipe

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