Asia CSO Regional Meeting, 16 March 2015
Eighteen (18) CSO representatives from eleven countries (click here for the participant list) attended a Regional CSO meeting for Asia on 16 March 2015, held a day prior to the Expanded Constituency Workshop (ECW) for the same region. The meeting was organized by GEF-CSO Network in collaboration with the GEF Secretariat. The meeting reviewed experiences and lessons learned from CSO engagement in GEF projects as well as identified options to enhance engagement in GEF programs in the future (see agenda).
William Ehlers of GEF Secretariat and Faizal Parish, GEF-CSO Network Central Focal Point welcomed the participants to the meeting. In their welcoming remarks, they mentioned that the ECW is important as it bring all stakeholders into the GEF processes and to have a better understanding of GEF processes so that everyone moves in the right direction and achieve good impact. The CSO meeting provides an opportunity for CSOs to consult prior to the ECW and identify ways in which the collaboration between civil society and GEF can be enhanced.
SESSION 1 : Introduction
This session was moderated by Faizal Parish, Central Focal Point, GEF-CSO Network
Following a round of self-introduction, Faizal briefly introduced the meeting agenda and the objectives. Adelaine Tan of GEF-CSO Network Secretariat then presented a brief overview of GEF and GEF-CSO network to give the participants a better understanding of the GEF and the GEF-CSO Network (click here to view the presentation). This was followed by outlining of the agenda for ECW for the next three days, 17 – 19 March 2015 which was done by William Ehlers.
SESSION 2 : GEF6 AND CSO ENGAGEMENTS
This session was moderated by Fathimah Shafeeqa, Live & Learn Environmental Education (Maldives)
This plenary session discussed the current GEF policies/guidelines for CSO engagement and the perspectives of CSOs and IPOs to enhance CSO engagement in the work of GEF. Faizal Parish of Central Focal Point, GEF-CSO Network presented the GEF Public Involvement Policy and options/mechanisms for CSO engagement in GEF6. This was followed with a presentation of the perspective and vision for GEF6 for the CSO and IPs engagement from Peihong Philip Xie of Shangri-La Institute for Sustainable Communities (China) and Thomas Jalong of Indigenous People Focal Point/ AIPP Thailand.
Click on the following to view the presentation :
After the presentations, deliberation was made on the current opportunities and benefits for CSO engagement in GEF. The following are the main feedbacks :
- CSO and IPs engagement in GEF is mainly limited to SGP projects.
- There is a lack of full, effective and meaningful engagement of civil society, indigenous peoples and local communities in medium and full sized GEF projects and programs, particularly in project development, implementation and M&E.
- Lack of visibility and promotion of GEF in some countries.
- There is a lack of recognition, particularly on the government side on the role that CSOs/Indigenous peoples/ local communities can play in safeguarding the environment.
- The push for a few large integrated programs by GEF in GEF6 may risk the involvement and participation of CSOs and IPs.
From the presentations and discussion of the plenary, the participants draw the following main conclusion:
- They believe full, effective and meaningful engagement of civil society, indigenous peoples and local communities is essential to ensure the success and sustainability of GEF programs.
- They recognize that CSOs, Indigenous peoples and Local Communities can play an important and constructive role in safeguarding the global environment through mobilizing mass movements to address the drivers of environmental degradation as well as take specific measures at local level such as through establishment of Indigenous and Community Conserved Areas and Territories (ICCAs), adoption of sustainable land and forest management practices, sustainable consumption or low emission development options.
SESSION 3 : STRENGTHENING CSO ENGAGEMENT AT COUNTRY/ REGIONAL LEVEL
This session was moderated by Suranjan Kodithuwakku, Green Movement of Sri Lanka
Shireen Samarasuriya, SGP Coordinator of Sri Lanka presented on CSO Participation in GEF Activities through GEF Small Grants Programme (SGP) Click here to view the presentation. This was followed with presentation of three case studies on the successes and challenges of CSO engagement in GEF projects the participants from Cambodia, China and India. The presenters are as follows :
1. Akhteruzzaman Sano, Save the Earth Cambodia (Cambodia). Click here to view the presentation.
2. PanQing, Guangxi Biodiversity Research and Conservation Association (China) on Mainstreaming and Capability Enhancement of Community Conserved Areas in the Southwest of Guangxi. Click here to view the presentation..
3. Dipayan Dey, South Asian Forum for Environment (India). Click here to view the presentation.
From the presentations and discussions of the plenary, the participants drew the following main conclusion:
1. The participants recognize that SGP is an important mechanism for engagement of CSOs and local and indigenous communities and should be maintained, enhanced and expanded to all countries in the region and successful SGP initiatives should be promoted and scaled up through larger GEF projects and programs.
2. The participants note that while SGP is very important, it only represents 5% of GEF expenditure. CSO engagement must be integrated fully into the remaining 95% of GEF operations represented by the GEF MSP and full-sized programmes. In this regard the meeting was concerned on the serious decline in funds for CSO- led MSPs and FSPs
The Way Forward
The meeting identified the benefits, opportunities and options for enhancing CSO engagement in GEF. The recommendations from the meeting were as follows:
- Clear guidance is needed from GEF/GEF Secretariat to GEF recipients and agencies on the requirements to effectively include CSOs and other stakeholders in ALL GEF projects and programs.
- Support should be provided to enhance ability of the OFPs to expand engagement and coordination with multiple stakeholders including civil society as well as organizing annual meetings with CSOs.
- GEF/GEF OFPs should work together with CSOs to build trust and understanding on the value-added of CSO engagement and potential positive contributions to GEF program development and implementation
- Countries should adopt an inclusive multi-stakeholder partnership approach to develop a common vision for sustainable solutions and integrated projects and programs;
- Each MSPs, FSPs and program should allocate resources (at least 15% of the budget) for component(s) for focused engagement of public and indigenous peoples and local communities to secure project targets and sustainability in partnership with CSOs.
- The resources allocated for SGP should be increased as it is proven to be one of the most successful, cost effective and participatory GEF programs.
- Building on the recent Guidelines, the GEF Public Involvement Policy should be updated and practical “best practice” manuals developed to guide governments, GEF agencies and CSOs to work better in partnership to implement the policy.
- In line with the Gender Equality Action Plan, proactive efforts should be made to enhance meaningful participation of women in all GEF projects programs and operations including equitable benefit sharing.
- The capacity of CSOs including IPOs should be enhanced to enable their effective and meaningful engagement in GEF operations and programmes including on needs assessment, project identification, design, implementation and monitoring. Such support can be facilitated by the GEF CSO Network, SGP, OFPs or GEF agencies.
- Dedicated resources should be allocated for Indigenous Peoples and local communities – to ensure effective engagement in GEF projects and programmes as well as address priorities of such communities.
- GEF National Steering Committees should include representatives of Civil Society and Indigenous Peoples to facilitate engagement in GEF Funded Projects and programmes.
- The access and transparency of information on GEF Projects under development (pipeline) should be enhanced and clear information on opportunities and progress of CSO engagement made available; consultation with CSOs and Indigenous Peoples, and local communities should be mandatory during the project design period and supported with PPG funds.
- GEF Monitoring and Evaluation needs to be undertaken in a participatory manner/process with adequate and effective engagement of CSOs (in both internal monitoring and external evaluation); the GEF Independent Evaluation office should establish standards for participatory monitoring and evaluation as well as effective systems to enable tracking of CSO participation from design to implementation stage.
- CSOs at the country and regional level should enhance their cooperation through joint activities, establishment or strengthening of national (or thematic) networks, enhancing experience sharing between countries and south-south collaboration.
To view the final conclusion and recommendations which was presented to the ECW, click here.