Ground Level Panels offer reality check to UN High Level Panel’s (HLP) proposals for development

Posted by & filed under Citizenship, Ground Level Panel, High Level Panel, Participation.

Catherine Setchell

In June and July, four participatory research organisations from the Participate initiative facilitated Ground Level Panels to mirror the United Nations High Level Panel (HLP) for a post-Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) agenda, which was co-chaired by David Cameron, UK Prime Minister, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, President of Liberia, and Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, President of Indonesia. The panelists, like the HLP members, were not bringing with them the voices of a constituency nor representing a particular group; they came together to share their knowledge from living in poverty and marginalisation. Panelists drew on their own life experiences to provide a ‘ground level’ reality check to the HLP recommendations; as well as developing their own shared vision for development.

The Ground Level Panels took place in Egypt, Brazil, Uganda and India. Each panel comprised a diverse group of 10-14 people including urban slum dwellers; disabled people; sexual minorities; people living in conflict and natural disaster-affected areas, rural poverty, or geographically isolated communities; nomadic and indigenous people; older people; internally displaced people; and young people. All of them with diverse and intersecting identities, which made each of the panels unique and fruitful.

Today, the Ground Level Panels have released their communiqués with their own recommendations for a new vision for development.

The Panelists spent five days developing a vision for a new global development agenda, within the framing of the UN High Level Panel’s recommendations; one that truly speaks to the reality of people who live in poverty and marginalisation. At the end of the deliberations, they came up with their own recommendations for what is needed in global development policy to end poverty.  All of the Ground Level Panels presented these recommendations at outreach days to decision-makers responsible for shaping local, national and international development policy.

The Ground Level Panel (GLP) Outcomes

Ground Level Panelists in Egypt discussing their vision for development

The GLP in Egypt was hosted by Participate research partners, the Center for Development Services (CDS). In their communiqué, panelists propose a vision of “self-sufficiency” at the country and community level, where Egyptians own the resources needed for development and can secure enough local production of food and other basic items such as water, and fuel. They also highlight the importance of “paying more attention to having a high caliber of leaders who can effectively implement our Vision on the ground, which requires good governance.”

Brazil GLP

Ground Level Panelists in Brazil discuss their vision for development

The GLP in Brazil was hosted by Participate research partners, International Movement ATD Fourth World and co-facilitated by Raízes em Movimento. In their communiqué panelists propose a “global life plan” which recognizes the interconnectedness of citizens, the environment and government bodies, where dignity is key. They stress that the current development model is outdated, driven by political and economic interests and puts humanity on a “death plan.” They recommend seven proposals to achieve the “global life plan” that include amongst others: “popular education; fair, egalitarian and sustainable forms of production, job creation, and income distribution; building of new alliances; and forms of government and organization that come from the processes and the real necessities of the people.”

Ground Level Panelists discuss what it means to ‘put sustainable development at the core’ as proposed by the High Level Panel

The GLP in Uganda was hosted by Participate research partners, Restless Development. In their communiqué, panelists call for a vision that “respects the rule of law, human rights and transparency to ensure that services are delivered to everyone equally without any segregation or misappropriation of the national resources.” The panelists reinforced the UN High Level Panel’s “five transformative shifts,” with further recommendations. For instance, panelists agree to putting ‘sustainable development at the core’ but emphasise that “peace and security are critical for achieving sustainable development, and that people should have the opportunity to determine their own development with the necessary capacity and economic resources.”


Women at the India Ground Level Panel discuss their experiences of poverty and how their situation can change


The GLP in India was hosted by Participate research partners, Praxis – Institute for Participatory Practices. In their communiqué, panelists recommend fifteen goals in response to the twelve goals proposed by the UN High Level Panel. Amongst others, these include goals to “establish a corruption-free society and state; promote equity; establish robust accountability mechanisms; create institutional spaces to promote people’s participation in local governance and policy-making process; protect the environment; enforce mechanisms to prevent tax evasion by corporates; and end discrimination and stigma.

A synthesis report of the four Ground Level Panel processes will be published in mid-August.


Post attachments

Title Author(s) Description Link
Egypt GLP Communiqué June 2013 Communiqué produced by the twelve panelists from the Ground Level Panel meeting in Egypt Download (170 KB)
Uganda GLP Communiqué July 2013 Communiqué produced by the twelve panelists from the Ground Level Panel meeting in Uganda Download (388 KB)
India GLP communiqué July 2013 Communiqué produced by the fourteen panelists from the Ground Level Panel meeting in India Download (1 MB)
Brazil GLP communiqué July 2013 Communiqué produced by the fourteen panelists from the Ground Level Panel meeting in Brazil Download (216 KB)

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