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  GEF-CSO Consultation meeting, 6 June 2016

(prepared by IISD with input from GEF-CSO Network)

The Global Environment Facility (GEF) Council Consultation meeting with Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) took place on 6 June 2016, the day before the opening of the 50th meeting of the GEF Council. Participants highlighted that the events mark the 21st anniversary of the GEF-CSO Network and the 25th anniversary of the GEF. The CSO consultation included a dialogue with the GEF CEO and Chairperson, Naoko Ishii, discussions on an evaluation and recommendations for changes in the GEF-CSO Network, case studies on the GEF experience in five countries and future directions for the GEF. Click here for the agenda.

Naoko Ishii, GEF CEO and Chairperson

Photo by IISD/ENB | Francis Dejon

Session 1: CSO Dialogue with GEF CEO and Chairperson

Essam Nada, GEF-CSO Network, opened the Consultation and highlighted his trust in the conclusions and recommendations of the Independent Evaluation Office’s (IEO) evaluation of the GEF-CSO Network. He stressed the need to think outside the box to take action to address environmental challenges.

Essam Nada, Chair of the GEF-CSO Network, opened the dialogue

Essam Nada, Chair of the GEF-CSO Network, opened the dialogue.

Photo by IISD/ENB | Francis Dejon

Naoko Ishii, GEF CEO and Chairperson, highlighted the importance of this GEF Council in the context of the GEF’s 25th anniversary and the implementation phase of the Paris Agreement on climate change and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). She noted the need to change the tragedy of the commons to an “opportunity” of the commons and to push the health of the global commons to the center stage of discussions internationally. She said CSOs are critical partners, and the GEF-CSO Network needs a contemporary vision and to increase its relevance with respect to the GEF’s mission.

Session 2: GEF-CSO Network: Past, Present and Future

This session considered the current operation of the GEF-CSO Network, including challenges to and visions for its effective engagement in GEF processes. A panel on the GEF-CSO Network was co-moderated by Priscilla Achakpa, Regional Focal Point (RFP) West Africa, and Akhteruzzaman Sano, RFP Southeast Asia.

Geeta Batra, IEO, introduced the IEO’s Evaluation of the GEF-CSO Network. Among the report’s conclusions, Baljit Wadhwa, IEO, highlighted: the Network’s continued relevance to the GEF Partnership; its distance from the country level where GEF projects make their mark; the lack of a shared vision for the role of the Network in an expanding GEF Partnership; and its governance-related challenges. Click here to view the slide presentation.

Faizal Parish, GEF-CSO Network Secretariat, presented the Network’s response to the GEF IEO’s review, stressing the need to work in collaboration with all members of the GEF family. Pilar Barrera, GEF Secretariat, welcomed the evaluation and encouraged the Network to continue strengthening its governance system. Click here to view the slide presentation.

Stefan Marco Schwager, Switzerland, drew attention to the lack of interaction between the Network and some of the GEF agencies. Carlos Raul Delgado, Mexico, called for enhancing CSOs’ capacities to interact with government agencies.

Stephen Gold, UN Development Programme (UNDP), emphasized collaboration among the Network and the GEF’s Small Grants Programme (SGP). Timothy Geer, World Wildlife Fund (WWF), stressed the need for CSOs to “compete and collaborate” to make the GEF more effective. Click here to view the slide presentation.

During the ensuing discussion, participants addressed, inter alia: ways for the Network to engage with other civil society and indigenous peoples networks; the need to review the Network’s mandate; and the need to recognize CSOs’ involvement through policies and designated budget allocations.

The panel on “CSO Experience and Achievements: Case Studies Presentation,” was moderated by Nana Janashia, RFP Eastern Europe and Central Asia, and Zhao Zhong RFP Northeast Asia.

Abdelhamid Belemlih, La Société Protectrice des Animaux et de la Nature (SPANA), presented a project in Morocco aiming to improve project management of protected areas by implementing 73 eco-development projects in three national parks. Click here to view the slide presentation.

Li Kui, GreenSOS, noted that CSO participation in GEF projects in China is very rare but has increased in recent years. She highlighted the need for improving GEF policies on monitoring CSO involvement to ensure “it’s not token involvement.” Click here to view the slide presentation.

Akhteruzzaman Sano, for Save the Earth Cambodia, outlined a project aimed at enhancing community resilience against multi-hazards involving a micro-insurance mechanism deemed highly successful and sustainable. Click here to view the slide presentation.

L-R: Faizal Parish, GEF-CSO Network Secretariat; Baljit Wadhwa, Independent Evaluation Office of the GEF; Akhteruzzaman Sano, GEF-CSO Network Southeast Asia; Priscilla Achakpa, GEF-CSO Network West Africa; Stefan Marco Schwager, Switzerland; Carlos Raul Delgado, Mexico; Stephen Gold, UNDP; Pilar Barrera, GEF Secretariat; and Timothy Geer, WWF

Photo by IISD/ENB | Francis Dejon

Michela Izzo, Guakia Ambiete, presented a project in the Dominican Republic and Haiti which has installed 42 community micro-hydropower systems that have benefited 4,000 families, conserved 70 km2 of land and reduced 24,000 tons of CO2. Click here to view the slide presentation.

Elsa Escobar, Fundación Natura, presented a mechanism for voluntary mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions in Colombia which has achieved both emission reduction and community development. Click here to view the slide presentation.

Session 3: Interactive Dialogue on Future Strategic Role of GEF

Lisa Elges, RFP Europe, chaired the panel on the “Future Strategic Role of GEF.” Anand Patwardhan, STAP Panel member for Climate Change Adaptation, highlighted initial thinking on GEF-7, including considering how the GEF can build on its ability to support new ideas, innovation and integration. He said knowledge management should have a central role, along with a strengthened internal and external environment to capture lessons from projects. Click here to view the slide presentation.

Lisa Elges, Transparency International and GEF-CSO Network Europe

Photo by IISD/ENB | Francis Dejon

Claus Pram Astrup, GEF Secretariat, called for attention to, inter alia: the context in which the GEF operates and how that has changed; the importance of country ownership; the GEF’s role in the evolving architecture for climate financing and in the discussion on resilience; and how the GEF can align itself with countries’ broader policy priorities.

Leonardo Martinez-Diaz, US, suggested ensuring the sustainability of projects on the ground and making the GEF more user-friendly, among other ideas.

Essam Nada, GEF-CSO Network, emphasized focusing on change at the community level. Lisa Elges, for Transparency International, said the GEF should develop a robust ethics and conflict of interest policy for Council members.

Delfin Ganapin, GEF-SGP, highlighted that the SGP has supported over 20,000 projects through grants of up to US$50,000, and reviewed ideas for the future, including using the SGP as a “Grants-Access Convener,” which would provide services to help CSOs access other grants and donors.

A panel on “GEF Future Role in Convention Implementation” was co-moderated by Patricia Turpin, RFP Caribbean, and Victor Kawanga, RFP Southern Africa. Turpin said GEF activities supportive of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs), Minamata Convention on Mercury and Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer also focused on SDGs implementation.

Edna Kaptoyo, indigenous peoples’ representative, invited the GEF to support indigenous peoples through policy, a sustainable voluntary fund, capacity-building workshops and medium-sized grants. Click here to view the slide presentation.

On the establishment of the Capacity-building Initiative for Transparency (CBIT) Trust Fund, Lisa Elges, RFP Europe, identified the need for clear benchmarks on transparency for finance and clarity on how it will complement other initiatives, including the SDGs.

Chizuru Aoki, GEF Secretariat, highlighted synergies among, and integration of agendas across, GEF-supported multilateral environmental agreements. Melchiade Bukuru, UNCCD Secretariat, highlighted the GEF as the “financial integrator” of SDGs implementation. Yibin Xiang, CBD Secretariat, characterized the GEF as a “bridge between global commons and national priorities.”

GEF-CSO Network group photo with Naoko Ishii, GEF CEO and Chairperson

Photo by IISD/ENB | Francis Dejon

Faizal Parish, GEF-CSO Network Secretariat, summarized and closed the consultation by highlighting, inter alia: the GEFs indication that the GEF family will contribute to enhancing the work of the GEF-CSO Network; the need for adequate resources for the GEF-CSO Secretariat to effectively manage the Network; and the need for the GEF to respond quickly to emerging issues and agreements within GEF-related conventions.

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