Strengthening Citizen Participation in Global Governance

This challenge paper — “Strengthening Citizen Participation in Global Governance” — argues that the Summit of the Future in September 2024 should be used to move beyond piecemeal approaches to civic engagement. The paper’s authors explore various options to enhance inclusivity and propose concrete recommendations for the Summit of the Future, as well as the next cycle of international cooperation, which will include the UN’s 80th anniversary in 2025, the election of the next Secretary-General in 2027, and negotiations for a new agenda to carry us beyond the 2030 deadline of the Sustainable Development Goals.

The paper recommends:

  • A renewed commitment to informing global citizens in an age of division and polarization
  • More systematic efforts to understand people’s opinions, ideas, and values, strengthened participation for civil society
  • Regular use of a citizens’ assembly as a deliberative body at a global level


Maiara Folly is the Executive Director and Co-founder of Plataforma CIPÓ, a Brazil-based think tank dedicated to issues of climate change, sustainable development and global governance. She is also part of the editorial team of Blue Smoke, an initiative led by the United Nations Association UK, Strategy for Humanity and Plataforma CIPÓ to promote greater accountability and transparency within the United Nations, especially with regards to elections and appointments to senior positions within the organization.

Andrea Ordóñez Llanos is co-founder and Senior Research Fellow of Southern Voice, a network of over 60 think tanks from Africa, Latin America & the Caribbean, and Asia leveraging southern evidence and analysis to promote fair global development debates. She was previously Research Director at Grupo FARO, a think tank in Ecuador. Her main research interests are social policy, public finance, financing for development and international cooperation. Her aim is to ensure that new voices and ideas from the Global South are heard across regions. She is a member of Foreign, Commonwealth, and Development Office’s International Development Expert Group and of the International Scientific Advisory Board of the German Institute of Development and Sustainability and a board member of Publish What You Fund.

Aishwayra Machani is the UN Advocacy Co-lead at the Iswe Foundation. She was previously the Convenor of the UN Foundation Next Generation Fellows. She helped to launch the Unlock the Future coalition, which brings together over 20 of the world’s biggest youth driven organizations, and led a process to gather inputs from young people worldwide for the UN Secretary-General’s landmark Our Common Agenda report. She also co-authored Our Future Agenda — a complimentary report setting out young people’s vision and plan for a reinvigorated multilateral system.

David Steven is a senior fellow at the UN Foundation, where he led a team of partners supporting Our Common Agenda, the Secretary-General’s vision for the future of multilateralism. David now leads the UN Foundation’s work on the future of multilateralism, which is currently focused on the Summit of the Future, to be held in September 2024. Recent publications include Multilateralism for the Future: New Challenges, New Models, New Solutions for the T20 India; From Justice for the Few to Justice for All; and the Next 8 Billion, a presentation for a special session at the 23rd International Futures Conference.

In the News

AEF Info

“Creating a permanent global assembly of citizens to hear their views on global challenges: This is the project that the Iswe Foundation, supported in particular by the United Nations Foundation, is working to achieve.”

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Blue Smoke

“Amidst several suggestions on how to strengthen the voice of citizens at the UN, this paper stresses the need for ‘inclusive, merit-based and transparent process for appointing the Secretary-General and other senior UN leaders’ as the starting point.”

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O Globo

“Released ahead of the Summit of the Future, a document prepared jointly by the UN Foundation, Blue Smoke, Iswe Foundation, Southern Voice and Plataforma Cipó, advocates greater participation of citizens around the world in global decisions as a central measure for the reinvention of planetary governance.”

UN Dispatch

“In a recently published challenge paper, we argue that the perfunctory ‘tick the box’ initiatives that the UN currently uses to include citizens’ input are unacceptable. Participants are often left disappointed having sacrificed time and energy for consultations that have little impact.”

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Further Reading

How The UN’s Summit of the Future Could Be a Turning Point for Global Diplomacy

As part of a monumental effort to reset global cooperation, the UN will host hundreds of world leaders, policymakers, experts, and advocates at the Summit of the Future. The ultimate goal: To rethink what multilateralism means in a rapidly changing world

Read the Blog


Even with growing recognition that people-centered justice is key to advancing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, there’s still a huge gap: funding.

Read the Blog


We spoke with nine Next Generation Fellows about why the perspectives of young people are essential at all decision-making tables, what leaders get wrong about inclusion, and why we can’t afford to give up hope when it comes to implementing the SDGs.

Read the Blog


This publication is made possible with the support of the following organizations and partners.