Intervention from the floor at the MGoS Session

My name is Nelya Rakhimova and I represent the Civil society Coalition for Sustainable Development of Russia.

The challenges that Russian and Belarussian civil society has been facing during the last two years are unprecedented. Since 2020, the independent civil society of Belarus has been erased from the legal landscape and literally pushed out of the country. The Sustainability Partner Group - the mechanism of civil engagement in SDG processes - was populated with GONGOs. Meanwhile, hundreds of organizations that worked on human rights, climate, gender, and all SDGs no longer exist.

Russia has taken the same path. Even before the Russian aggression in Ukraine, work of many independent organizations in Russia has become impossible. Thousands of activists and journalists left the country due to political repressions. Special representative of the president on SDG implementation, Anatoly Chubais, with whom our coalition had established good connections, quitted his post and left the country. It seems like nobody will take this position again. Vladimir Mau, rector of RANEPA university who launched SDSN in Russia is under house arrest right now.

Nevertheless, civil society continues its work in Russia and Belarus even without being physically there. Sustainable development can not be achieved without us. Therefore, we would like to address Member States with three points:

First, it is important that the Member States recognize and continue cooperation with the independent civil society of Belarus and Russia even if it lost its legal status inside the country. It is important to have access and a possibility to raise our voice AT regional and global platforms on sustainable development.

Second, we need to have infrastructural and financial support AS never before in order to continue our independent work. These processes can be implemented with international support only.

Third, we appreciate the help of those Member States who provided asylum for many of us. We need to be safe before we can be heard. It is essential that civil society representatives can continue to rely on timely response in emergency situations with visa and relocation support.

And in the end, we would like to express our solidarity with Ukraine. We were there to prevent the war and we lost this fight. But we don’t give up and we stand with Ukraine and peace!