15.1. As the contribution, real and potential, of non-governmental organizations gains clearer recognition in many countries and at regional and international levels, it is important to affirm its relevance in the context of the preparation and implementation of the present Programme of Action. To address the challenges of population and development effectively, broad and effective partnership is essential between Governments and non-governmental organizations (comprising not-for-profit groups and organizations at the local, national and international levels) to assist in the formulation, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of population and development objectives and activities.
15.2. Despite widely varying situations in their relationship and interaction with Governments, non-governmental organizations have made and are increasingly making important contributions to both population and development activities at all levels. In many areas of population and development activities, non-governmental groups are already rightly recognized for their comparative advantage in relation to government agencies, because of innovative, flexible and responsive programme design and implementation, including grass-roots participation, and because quite often they are rooted in and interact with constituencies that are poorly served and hard to reach through government channels.
15.3. Non-governmental organizations are important voices of the people, and their associations and networks provide an effective and efficient means of better focusing local and national initiatives and addressing pressing population, environmental, migration and economic and social development concerns.
15.4. Non-governmental organizations are actively involved in the provision of programme and project services in virtually every area of socio-economic development, including the population sector. Many of them have, in a number of countries, a long history of involvement and participation in population- related, particularly family-planning, activities. Their strength and credibility lies in the responsible and constructive role they play in society and the support their activities engender from the community as a whole. Formal and informal organizations and networks, including grass-root movements, merit greater recognition at local, national and international levels as valid and valuable partners for the implementation of the present Programme of Action. For such partnerships to develop and thrive, it is necessary for governmental and non-governmental organizations to institute appropriate systems and mechanisms to facilitate constructive dialogue, in the context of national programmes and policies, recognizing their distinct roles, responsibilities and particular capacities.
15.5. The experience, capabilities and expertise of many non-governmental organizations and local community groups in areas of direct relevance to the Programme of Action is acknowledged. Non-governmental organizations, especially those working in the field of sexual and reproductive health and family-planning, women's organizations and immigrant and refugee support advocacy groups, have increased public knowledge and provided educational services to men and women which contribute towards successful implementation of population and development policies. Youth organizations are increasingly becoming effective partners in developing programmes to educate youth on reproductive health, gender and environmental issues. Other groups, such as organizations of the aged, migrants, organizations of persons with disabilities and informal grass-roots groups, also contribute effectively to the enhancement of programmes for their particular constituencies. These diverse organizations can help in ensuring the quality and relevance of programmes and services to the people they are meant to serve. They should be invited to participate with local, national and international decision-making bodies, including the United Nations system, to ensure effective implementation, monitoring and evaluation of the present Programme of Action.
15.6. In recognition of the importance of effective partnership, non- governmental organizations are invited to foster coordination, cooperation and communication at the local, national, regional and international levels and with local and national governments, to reinforce their effectiveness as key participants in the implementation of population and development programmes and policies. The involvement of non-governmental organizations should be seen as complementary to the responsibility of Governments to provide full, safe and accessible reproductive health services including family planning and sexual health. Like Governments, non-governmental organizations should be accountable for their actions and should offer transparency with respect to their services and evaluation procedures.
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