Secretary General, Excellencies, Distinguished Members of the Civil Society Forum Steering Committee, Distinguished Members of the Media, ladies and gentlemen,
For many years, Doctors Worldwide Turkey has brought medical and humanitarian services to the people of the LDCs, on a fully voluntary basis. Listening to the voice of their conscience and having a sense of responsibility, our volunteers, mainly doctors have traveled to several countries in need of these services. Through these efforts, we have established warm and lasting relations with the people of these countries and civil society organizations as well. As a civil society organization of this nature, we would like to welcome all of you to the plenary opening of the Civil Society Forum.
For the first time in its history, the United Nations Conference on the Least Developed Countries is organized in a developing country. And we are honored and privileged to host you here in Istanbul, a perfect location as a crossroad of two continents, for the Fourth UN Conference on the LDCs, which will bring together the LDC development partners.
For a very long period of time, sustainable and equitable development has remained a problematic area encompassing numerous conflicts in the Least Developed Countries. Energy issues, food and economic crises, gender discrimination, climate change, threats to environment and human health due to unhealthy conditions of industrial production, war and civil war are just a few of those areas.
Sustainable development has many benefits both for the people and for our planet, including building stronger communities, empowering people to meet their own needs, benefiting local and global economies and being good for the environment and for the future in general. It envisages a better living for all, contributing to advancing policy recommendations on international trade and investment, economic policy, climate change, measurement, assessment and management of the natural resources of the world.
The importance of sustainable development rises by the day and constantly increases the need to embrace civil society and encourage public participation in the development processes. No matter how much governments, parliaments, international organizations and institutions strive to take measures and develop solutions for development issues, we believe that sustainable and equitable development can only be made possible through the contribution of the civil society.
Civil society brings experiences and knowledge of the society to the development process, contributing both to generating policies and monitoring their implementation.It plays a vital role through its independent, objective and free character, conveying the experiences, concerns and priorities of ordinary people to decision-making mechanisms, based on the principal that citizens should have the right to full participation.Most importantly, it demands and secures governmental accountability, pushing governments for transparency in their actions. All in all, this is what makes civil society organizations crucial for improving social and economic conditions. Broader inclusion of civil society in identifying and resolving issues, as well as promoting action on the ground, is essential for sustainable development.
Another very important function of civil society is to educate the public. Sustainable development is not possible as long as efforts and activities are not embraced and supported by the public. Long-term public support can be ensured through increasing public awareness of the importance of sustainable development by educating the public and providing transparency through inclusion of civil society in the development processes.
In light of all these facts, it would be fair to say that the Civil Society Forum is one of the most important legs of this 4th UN Conference on the Least Developed Countries. Here we can share our experiences, observations, ideas and recommendations towards a better life based on equitable and sustainable development in these countries. Here we can all together seek ways to fulfill our responsibilities to the LDCs.
In today’s world, countries and societies constantly interact with each other in many different fields, and the problems of the LDCs are the problems of humanity and the world as a whole. We all know that the problems the LDCs are faced with are innumerable. And this Forum is the place where we can – and hopefully we will – join hands to take responsibility and do something about that.
We as Doctors Worldwide Turkey, we strongly believe that this Forum will serve as a platform for the civil society representatives from different countries to take steps towards establishing closer relations, and to further their cooperation. We also very much hope that with the contributions of the Civil Society Forum, this Fourth UN Conference on the LDCs will be a milestone for a development model based on justice, freedom, transparency, democracy and participation.
Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the Civil Society Forum, and to the historic city of Istanbul. I wish you all a fruitful conference.
Thank you very much.