People’s Assembly - New York, September 2019

24 and 25 September 2019 – parallel to the SDG Summit (HLPF of Heads of State) and UNGA
in the Church Center – opposite the UN, New York

Inequality has risen to unsustainable levels and led to social unrest. Climate change is causing incalculable damage. There is little environmental justice. Gender inequality and violence against women harms half of humanity and effects everyone. Child malnutrition, deadly diseases and migration are exacerbated by the effects of climate change and rising inequality. We are at the crossroads. We can implement change or continue with the status quo.

In 2015, governments signed historic agreements: the Paris Agreement and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. However, four years later, there is still much work to do as well as many great challenges. The planet is in crisis. Authoritarianism and nationalism have been on the rise with political leaders dividing society for electoral gains.

Civil society plays a key role in advocating and implementing much needed change. However, we are being threatened and our space to work dwindling. Human rights and environmental activists are being incarcerated or even killed. Civil Society must fight back and reclaim our space. We are determined to act to save the planet and humanity, particularly ensure that no one is left behind.

As Heads of State will meet on 24 and 25 September 2019 to critically review the progress of Agenda 2030 at the HLPF / SDG summit, we are organizing a parallel assembly by the people. The People’s Assembly will bring together representatives from civil society and various marginalised groups across the world to voice their narratives and stories of inequalities, indignity and injustices to the global leaders in New York. These civil society leaders will present the results of community meetings and peoples’s assemblies in their countries and constituencies.

To galvanise people’s voice across the world, a Global Week of Action is taking place from 20 – 27 September, with joint mobilizations and mass actions across movements & borders standing together for: The main themes of the People’s Assembly will therefore be

  1. Civic Space (voices)
  2. Inequalities
  3. Climate and Environmental Justice

The objectives of the People’s Assembly will be to:

  1. Bring the “People’s Voices” to the fore at the SDG Summit
  2. Strategize to reclaim civil society space
  3. Discuss the implementation of Agenda 2030 and make recommendations for a stronger accountability mechanism
  4. Strengthen the cooperation with various CSO networks and INGOs for civil society actions and people’s movement

The People’s Assembly will bring together people’s representatives[1]  and civil society from around the world to share stories of grassroots and marginalised people. The participants will strategize on how to reclaim the civic space. But most importantly, is will be a space for all to jointly reflect, act and plan for common future actions to create systemic change to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Climate Agreement.

As SDG 10 and SDG 16 are under review, among other goals, this will be an opportunity to especially focus on inequality, peace, justice & inclusive institutions. While the country reviews of SDGs as well as the global review will take place during the regular HLPF in July, the Official Declaration will be made in September by the Heads of State. The People’s Assembly will also take the opportunity to make an alternative declaration.

A bottom up Process: The first crucial step will begin at the local/sub-national and national levels, where people will deliberate and capture their analysis, messages and demands on inequalities, climate and environment issues and civic space. These community meetings or Equality Circles will lead to People’s Assemblies at national level. Issues such as poverty, gender equality, child rights, etc will also be addressed within these larger themes. The sessions and presentations at the Assembly will be based on the outcome of these discussions and the work being done at the regional and global levels and led by the community and civil society representatives.

Different work streams will focus on various topics in events, which include:

  1. Gender Equality
  2. Marginalisation of the indigenous communities and other groups
  3. Discrimination based on Work and Decent
  4. Tax Justice and Decent Work
  5. Social Protection
  6. Environmental and Climate Justice
  7. Civic Space and Democracy
  8. Peace and Conflict

Each work stream will produce demands, which will be incorporated in the People’s Declaration.

Various groups including women’s groups, farmers groups, trade unions, Indigenous communities, persons with disabilities, youth, groups discriminated based on work and descent (DWD), migrants etc will be invited to various processes of consultation at different levels to have a broad based understanding of people’s issues and to develop demands.


  1. CSOs, NGOs, farmers associations, trade unions, etc will propose and support delegates to be their “Voice” in New York and present how they are affected by inequalities and injustice. GCAP will discuss with its partners and national coalition and take the final decisions.
  2. The CSOs will support each representative of the “People’s Voice” to organise “Equality Circles” at local and national levels to:
  • Develop analysis on inequality, injustice and peace
  • Collate demands
  • Produce short videos

Format of the People’s Assembly:

  • The representatives of the “People’s Voice” will present the analysis and demands developed by communities and with CSOs at various levels
  • Videos from around the world
  • Discussion on analysis and demands
  • A task force will draft a People’s Declaration

Another part of the People’s Assembly will be to work on plans for the Inequality Campaign for 2020.

Who would participate in the People’s Assembly?

At least 150 to 200 people will take part, possibly more as many will be in New York for the UNGA and otherwise, and we are also inviting US-based movements. GCAP is looking into funding to enable a large number of representatives to participate.

  • Women’s and Feminist Constituency Group: Through the Leave No Woman Behind project we would invite African women and members of the Women’s Major Group might be interested as well.
  • Socially Justice Task Force: expecting 25 representatives from people facing discrimination for work and descent from different parts of the world, and to lead one work stream.
  • Youth
  • People with disabilities
  • Indigenous peoples
  • Social movements


GCAP is seeking partners to co-organize the People’s Assembly in order to further strengthen and broaden the impact.


  • are invited to be part of the preparation and coordination team
  • contribute to the thematic discussions with at least one speaker
  • support at least one People’s Voice to speak in New York

[1] People’s representatives include those who are marginalized and who are affected by inequality and climate and environmental injustice, not political representatives. Community representatives and people’s representatives are alternatively used with broadly the same meaning. Interested? Get in touch!