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  CSO Forum during the 5th GEF Assembly

The Civil Society Forum was held as part of the Fifth GEF Assembly on May 27, 2014 in Cancun, Mexico, in the Yucatan Peninsula, one of the emblematic territories of the Mayan culture. It was jointly organized by the GEF CSO Network, the GEF Secretariat, the GEF Small Grants Program, and the Government of Mexico, bringing together over 200 representatives of civil society organizations and indigenous peoples groups from more than 80 countries around the world.Click here for the agenda.


The forum initiated with a Mayan Ceremony which was conducted by Edgar Francisco Peraza Chan of  H’Men, Mexico.


The forum was opened with welcoming address from Mr. Rodolfo Lacy Tamayo, Deputy Secretary of Planning and Environmental Policy, Mexican Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources, Ms. Naoko Ishii, GEF CEO, Mr. Faizal Parish, Central Focal Point of GEF-CSO Network and Mr. León Gutiérrez Ferretiz, President of the Regional Consultative Council on Sustainable Development for the South-South East, representing the Mexican CSOs.


Two keynote addresses were given on strategic issues. Firstly, Lorenzo Rosenweig, Fondo Mexicano para la Conservacion, discussed key social drivers for successful interactions with local communities, highlighting that they are in need of basic financial knowledge.

This was followed with Carlos Manuel Rodríguez, Conservation International, emphasized the importance of moving towards a "re-use and recycle" approach and to radically rethink our current method of assessing economic growth. He called on GEF to enhance partnerships with CSOs beyond the SGPs, while noting the relevance of successfully achieving the Aichi Biodiversity Targets and a future global climate agreement.



During the morning plenary session, eight CSOs, from different part of the world presented their projects which showcased CSOs achievements and contributions under the Assembly themes which were :

  • Addressing the underlying drivers of global environmental degradation
  • Innovate and achieve global environmental benefits at scale
  • Create synergies across our programs, delivering multiple global environmental benefits
  • Deliver the highest impact, cost-effectively

The following are the 8 projects presented during the morning plenary session :



In the afternoon session, the participants were breakout into four sessions. The discussion focused on:

1.        The implementation of the Public Involvement Policy in GEF projects;

2.        Best practices for CSO involvement  in GEF focal areas  and multi-stakeholder engagement;

3.        Partnerships with indigenous peoples and local communities, and

4.        Women and youth as key GEF partners.


Parallel Session 1 : Implementation of GEF Public Involvement Policy:

The Public Involvement Policy (PIP), adopted in 1996, responds to one of the GEF’s ten operational principles. The policy should provide for full consultation, effective participation and free, prior informed consent of the beneficiaries and affected groups of people. By informing, consulting and ensuring stakeholders participate in all stages of a project, effective partnerships are generated. Thus, the Public Involvement Policy is the basis for future partnership building in GEF projects. Five panel speakers shared their view on the GEF engagement with CSO. They are as follows : 


Parallel Session 2 : CSO Involvement in GEF focal areas and multi-stakeholder engagement :

For over two decades, the GEF has partnered with civil society organizations in projects and programs. This strategic alliance has brought various stakeholders together and created numerous innovative partnerships, linkages among communities, non-governmental organizations, academic and research institutions, governments, and the private sector encouraging cooperation and improving understanding and dialogue between local, national, regional and international levels. There were four presentations as follows :


Parallel Session 3 :    Partnerships with indigenous peoples and local communities:

This session started with an Introduction to the GEF Indigenous Peoples Guidelines by Yoko Watanae of GEF Secretariat/IP Focal Point and Lucy Melunkei, Chair of GEF Indegenous Peoples' Advisory Group (IPAG). This was followed with thematic presentations on the following :

The discussion and recommendations for the action on the GEF Indigenous Peoples Guidelines which was chaired by Florina Lopez Miro, Co-Chair of the Global Coordinating Group for the World Conference of Indigenous Peoples and coordinator of the Indigenous Forum of Abya Yala started with panel discussion from :

  • Gonzalo Oviedo, IUCN Social Policy Programme
  • Hindou Ibrahim, Association Des Femmes Peules Autochtones Du Tchard Afpat, Chad
  • Johnson Cerda, Conservation International
  • Legborsi Saro Pyagbara, The Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP)
  • Mrinalini Rai, Researcher


Parallel Session 4 : Women and Youth as GEF key partners :

This session addressed the issues of gender and youth participation in GEF projects and processes, providing early feedback on the implementation of the GEF Policy on Gender Mainstreaming and identifying the key barriers and challenges to be addressed in the development of the GEF Gender Action Plan during GEF-6. The following are the four presentations :


The recommendations from the Forum was presented to the GEF Assembly as "Cancun Declaration of the CSOs" (English version) (Spanish version) (French version) .For the full report on the forum, please click here. The Network would also like to thank participants who have given their feedback on the forum (click here to view the feedback summary).

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