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  GEF-CSO Consultation Meeting during 47th GEF Council Meeting

(prepared by International Institute of Sustainable Development/IISD)

The Global Environment Facility (GEF) Council consultation meeting with civil society organizations (CSOs) took place on 27 October 2014, at World Bank headquarters in Washington, DC, US. The event gathered approximately 150 participants to focus on four topics: a dialogue with the GEF CEO; gender mainstreaming and public involvement in GEF projects; the work of the GEF-CSO Network; and CSO engagement in the sixth replenishment of the GEF (GEF-6). Click here for the agenda. The day-long CSO Consultation took place immediately before the 47th meeting of the GEF Council, which will convene at the same venue from 28-30 October 2014.

Session 1: CSO Dialogue with GEF CEO

Faizal Parish, Central Focal Point, co-moderated the first session with Maria Leichner, Regional Focal Point (RFP) South America. GEF CEO and Chairperson Naoko Ishii stressed that 2015 would be critical to the GEF for three reasons: the ramping up to the global climate agreement; the decisions regarding sustainable development goals for the post-2015 development agenda; and the first year of GEF-6 and GEF2020 Strategy implementation.

Responding to questions, Ishii said: the GEF can share good practices that CSOs suggest regarding how countries involve CSOs in project formulation; the GEF can contribute to the transition to the Green Economy from several entry points, such as work on sustainable cities and energy efficiency; the GEF will share its approach to CSO engagement with the Green Climate Fund (GCF); the Scientific and Technical Advisory Panel (STAP) is very interested in advancing an integrated analysis of transport projects; and private sector involvement is key for the Integrated Approaches in GEF-6.

Responding to other CSO questions, Pilar Barrera, GEF Secretariat, pointed out: the Small Grants Program (SGP) has the same core funding in GEF-6 as in GEF-5; and the Guidelines on Public Involvement recognize the definition of Major Groups, as recommended by CSOs.

Session 2: Enhancing CSO Engagement and Gender Mainstreaming in the GEF: Policies and Guidelines in Practice

During the second session, two sub-panels discussed current CSO engagement and gender mainstreaming in GEF projects and processes, including challenges and recommendations for effective engagement. Rosa Maria Rodriguez, RFP Mesoamerica, and Sydah Naigaga, RFP East Africa, co-moderated the panel.

Gender Mainstreaming: Yoko Watanabe, GEF Secretariat, presented on the Gender Equality Action Plan (GEAP). She noted that donors had requested, during GEF-6, the development of a gender action plan to implement the policy on gender mainstreaming. She reported that actions have included the appointment of a gender focal point (Watanabe herself) and an assessment of gender mainstreaming in GEF Agencies. She said that “GEF-6 Core Gender Indicators” have been developed, and incorporate, inter alia: the percentage of projects that have conducted gender analysis; the percentage of projects that have incorporated a gender-responsive project results framework; the share of women and men as direct beneficiaries of a project; and the share of convention-related national reports that incorporate gender dimensions.

Harvey Keown, CSO Representative, called the GEAP visionary and outlined CSO recommendations, including suggestions to: integrate GEAP knowledge management and capacity development components; and extend practical capacity development, including at the local level, and ensure adequate budgets for these efforts.

Juha Pyykko, Council Member, Finland, said gender equity should be at the core of the post-2015 development agenda, and suggested that the GEAP could serve as a model for other organizations. He noted a need for further work on how projects are deemed to be gender relevant, and the coordination of indicators among agencies.

To view the powerpoint presentations, click on the following papers :

  1. GEF Gender Action Plan by Yoko Watanabe, GEF Secretariat
  2. Comments and Feedback on GEF Gender Action Plan by Harvey Keown, Africa Foundation for Sustainable Development

Public Involvement: Juha Ilari Uitto, GEF Independent Evaluation Office (IEO), reviewed the findings and recommendations on CSO engagement of the IEO's 5th Overall Performance Study (OPS5). Responding to questions, Uitto said the IEO had recommended a regular review of engagement, perhaps through an annual survey of CSOs, but the Council must direct it to do so.

Parish presented the GEF-CSO Network's review of the GEF Policy on Public Involvement (PIP), including recommendations such as updating the PIP and making it more prescriptive, enhancing access of CSOs to GEF resources, and enhancing CSO capacity to engage in GEF program and project formulation. He noted that at least 50% of CSO comments on the original draft Public Involvement Guidelines had been taken on in the draft now before Council.

Barrera outlined the draft Guidelines sections and said the Secretariat is open to discussing possible revision of the PIP, but only after first finishing work on the Guidelines. Leonardo Martinez-Diaz, Council Member for the US, welcomed the work on the Guidelines and suggested that the Council consider an appropriate way to revisit the PIP once the Guidelines are in place. He suggested some agreement might be needed on common indicators. Barrera agreed that a working group on the PIP could be established with CSOs, Agencies and recipient countries.

 To view the powerpoint presentations, click on the following papers :

  1. Review of GEF Policy on Public Involvement by Faizal Parish, Central Focal Point, GEF-CSO Network
  2. Development of GEF Public Involvement Guidelines by Pilar Barrera, GEF Secretariat

Among the ideas raised in subsequent discussion were: publishing the public involvement and whistleblower policies of GEF agencies on the GEF website; greater disclosure and transparency on the GEF conflict resolution mechanism; and GEF transparency on what resources it will allocate to ensuring that the Guidelines are actually put into practice.

Session 3: Interactive Dialogue on Role of GEF-CSO Network

The third session was moderated by Mohamed Raouf, RFP West Asia, and Nana Janashia, RFP Eastern Europe and Central Asia. Two presenters reported on the work of the GEF-CSO Network. The Network’s Report to GEF Council was presented by Essam Nada, RFP North Africa, and the Network’s Strategic Plan was presented by Victor Kawanga, RFP Southern Africa. GEF Council Member Stefan Marco Schwager, Switzerland, offered a Council perspective.

Nada recalled that the GEF-CSO Network had developed a Cancun Declaration of Civil Society to the 5th GEF Assembly, which convened from 28-29 May 2014, and highlighted recommendations, including: include an agenda item during expanded constituency workshops (ECW) under GEF-6 related to the engagement of civil society; encourage the GEF Secretariat and GEF-CSO Network to work together to encourage contributions from donors to the Voluntary Fund; and support further work on the implementation of the GEF principles and guidelines on engagement of indigenous peoples.

Kawanga, RFP Southern Africa, said the Network’s Strategic Plan presents a road map that is aligned and congruent with the strategic intentions of the Network.

Schwager highlighted that no Council member can deliver the level of knowledge on the ground that the CSO Network can deliver, and welcomed the CSOs’ perspective. He noted difficulties in translating the knowledge of the situation on the ground into Council-level discussions, and suggested that there is a need to consider how to make better use of the CSO perspective.

To view the powerpoint presentations, click on the following papers :

  1. Presentation of Network Report to GEF Council by Essam Nada, RFP North Africa, GEF-CSO Network
  2. Presentation of Network’s Strategic Plan by Victor Kawanga,  RFP Southern Africa, GEF-CSO Network

During the discussion, some speakers asked how communication with the Council members could be increased. The limited funding available to CSOs to engage with the GEF was also highlighted, and donors were encouraged to make use of the voluntary fund to support the GEF-CSO Network’s efforts to help build the bridge to the country level.

Session 4: Interactive Session with GEF Agencies on CSO Engagement in GEF-6

Steve Gold, UNDP, outlined areas for engaging CSOs in GEF-6, including helping CSOs in advocacy, outreach and community mobilization, building local capacities and awareness, identifying and applying indigenous knowledge, and supporting governments to partner with CSOs for public service delivery to vulnerable communities. He also reviewed lessons learned from an assessment of the CSO role in over 100 UNDP projects. Click here for the presentation.

Luisa Balbi, European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), explained the EBRD's approach to CSOs based on its emphasis on helping economies in transition and its heavy emphasis on work with the private sector. She said partnerships with CSOs were only begun last year with three pilot projects. Click here for the presentation.

Herve LeFeuvre, WWF-US, reviewed WWF-US efforts to build stronger CSO voices for environmental sustainability and development, and its social policies. Click here for the presentation.

Rita Mishan, Foundation for Eco-development and Conservation (FUNDAECO), Guatemala, argued that: CSOs should be incorporated more in project formulation and implementation, and their capacities strengthened so that they could follow up and build on GEF projects after they end.

Michael Replogle, Institute for Transport and Development Policy (ITDP), lamented the lack of promised follow-up work to the transport project assessment tool ITDP developed with STAP. He outlined the findings of an ITDP study of four GEF projects, which included the need to enhance CSO capacities so that they can be taken more seriously as actors in the public involvement process.

During the discussion, a number of representatives from GEF Agencies highlighted their experiences. Replogle said access planning for transportation is where the solutions lie, and that is where the GEF is making progress. The SGP highlighted three new initiatives: an Indigenous Peoples fellowship program; the establishment of a dedicated Indigenous Peoples funding mechanism; and efforts to help indigenous and community conserved areas become recognized. IUCN Director General Julia Marton-Lefevre noted that IUCN has been a project agency for two months, and highlighted how its form of governance allows for the engagement of its members.

Summary and Closing

Faizal Parish, GEF-CSO Network Central Focal Point, briefly summarized the day’s discussions. Patricia Turpin, RFP Caribbean, thanked the Council members who had attended the Consultation. She closed the meeting at 5:20 pm.


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