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  GEF - CSO Consultation, 27 Nov 2017


The Global Environment Facility (GEF) Council Consultation meeting with Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) took place on 27 Nov 2017, the day before the opening of the 53rd meeting of the GEF Council. The GEF Council-CSO consultation was attended by more than 100 participants encompassing representatives from civil society, GEF Council members, GEF Agencies and GEF Secretariat. Click here to view agenda for the consultation.

The CSO consultation included a dialogue with the GEF CEO and Chairperson, Naoko Ishii, discussions on GEF-7 and enhancing the relationship between the GEF and civil society.

Session 1: CSO Dialogue with the GEF CEO and Chairperson

Naoko Ishii, GEF Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and Chairperson, highlighted engagement by the GEF at recent Conferences of the Parties (COPs) to the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), Minamata Convention on Mercury, and UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). She highlighted the launch of the Land Degradation Neutrality Fund (LDN Fund) at the UNCCD COP, noting that it provides an effective way forward for the GEF to integrate land, soil, and forests in its activities. On UNFCCC COP 23, she reflected on the increased effectiveness of coalitions at the subnational level among diverse stakeholders. On the way forward, she noted the need to strengthen: integration at all levels; private sector and multi-coalition platforms; gender policy; stakeholder engagement; and an updated CSO vision. CSO representatives then exchanged views on: strengthening the role and support for CSOs in the work of the GEF; the format of the upcoming GEF Assembly; elements for consideration in Operational Programme 7 (OP7); and guidance on engagement of the private sector.

Session 2: Setting the Stage for GEF-7

This panel discussed the findings from the sixth comprehensive evaluation of the GEF (OPS6) and heard an update on the seventh replenishment process (GEF-7). The discussion was co-moderated by Nana Janashia, Regional Focal Point (RFP) for Eastern Europe and Central Asia, and Brice Böhmer, RFP for Europe.

Juha Uitto, GEF Independent Evaluation Office (IEO), presented findings from OPS6. He highlighted the GEF’s comparative advantages, which include: relevance to multiple conventions and a range of environmental issues; its history of good performance and ability to address linkages between focal areas; and its ability to create transformational change through legal and regulatory reforms and to deliver innovative financial models and risk-sharing approaches. (click here to view the presentation)

Gustavo Fonseca, GEF Secretariat, noted that two GEF-7 meetings have taken place to receive input on proposals for programming during the next replenishment period. He said three impact programs are under consideration, namely: land use, food systems and restoration; sustainable cities; and sustainable forest management. The next meeting will take place at the end of January 2018, in Brasilia, Brazil. Akhteruzzaman Sano, RFP Southeast Asia, presented the economics of gender mainstreaming, citing a US$12 trillion global loss due to gender discrimination. He noted the benefits of empowering women prior to project implementation outweigh the costs (click here to view the presentation).

During Q&A, presenters described how: GEF-7 can improve project sustainability; inclusive participation for indigenous peoples will be retained; projects were evaluated for transformational impact; and financial allocations for focal areas are formulated.

During the panel discussion, Zaheer Fakir, South Africa, highlighted the GEF’s expanding mandate without a resource increase of corresponding magnitude. Stephen Gold, UNDP, underscored how UNDP’s new strategic plan aligns closely with the GEF planning documents (click here to view the presentation). Victor Kawanga, Chair GEF-CSO Network, advocated for more resources for the Small Grants Programme (SGP), noting its importance to CSOs. Robert Bakiika, RFP Eastern Africa, and Lucy Mulenki, Chair, Indigenous Peoples Advisory Group (IPAG), stressed the importance of creating a clear picture of civil society’s role.


Session 3: An Updated Vision to Enhance Civil Society Engagement with the GEF

Fiu Elisara, RFP for the Pacific, introduced this session. Peter Wisner, Chair, Ad Hoc Council Working Group on GEF and Civil Society, presented the Updated Vision, emphasizing the need to strengthen CSO engagement at all stages of the GEF processes, from project design to implementation. He highlighted key recommendations, including: selection process and criteria for CSO representation at Council meetings, which may consider experience and continuity of representatives; structure of CSO meetings to be focused on topics that could be used to inform Council proceedings; and the inclusion of CSO interventions during Council meetings rather than at the end of each session.

Lalit Mohan, RFP for South Asia, GEF CSO Network Secretariat provided an update of the work of the Network and highlighted, among others, the need for enhanced CSO engagement with the GEF at COPs to various Multilateral Environment Agreements (MEAs) and the SDG Framework. He presented recommendations made by the Network to the Council, including: continued inclusion of a specific agenda item related to engagement of civil society during Council meetings; continued funding through the Expanded Constituency Workshops (ECW) mechanism; strengthening of the GEF Secretariat Draft Stakeholder Engagement Policy based on inputs of the Network Members and Working Group members; and establishment of a sustainable financing mechanism for the GEF-CSO Network. Discussions focused on various issues relating to the procedures for the selection and arrangements for CSOs representation at Council meetings, consultations, and ECWs.​(click here to view the presentation)

During the case studies presentation on CSO experience and challenges in engaging in GEF processes, Yoko Watanabe, Global Manager, Small Grants Programme (SGP), discussed the 25-year history of the SGP, which has worked in 125 countries and supported 21,600 projects. She emphasized the role of social inclusion in these projects, including gender and youth. Sasha Middleton, Marine Ecosystem Protected Areas Trust, Antigua and Barbuda, discussed efforts to ensure a bottom-up perspective in projects, including by assisting local groups with legal registration and technical and financial assistance, and involving youth in activities. She also highlighted efforts to take visiting donors to GEF-funded project sites, to meet project recipients.(click here to view both of their presentations). Sana Taktak, Association of Generations Continuity, Tunisia, discussed a Women Empowerment and Sustainable Development project that has helped create a women’s collective for collecting clams and engaged in capacity building in the sector. (click here to view the presentation)

During a subsequent panel, Baljit Wadhwa, GEF IEO, discussed the evaluation of the GEF-CSO Network, and noted that the vision statement does not provide an updated statement for the Network per se, but does provide a vision for CSO engagement more broadly. Robert Bakiika, RFP for Eastern Africa, noted challenges for RFPs in carrying out their responsibilities for the Network in addition to their own organizational responsibilities. Gonzalo Oviedo, indigenous peoples representative, highlighted that Indigenous Peoples have well-established procedures for self-selection of representatives that should be taken into account.

Session 4: Updated GEF Policies

Mrinalini Rai, Global Forest Coalition, and Bertrand Bhikarry, RFP Caribbean, moderated this panel, which focused on gender equality and stakeholder engagement in GEF projects and processes.

Anna Viggh, GEF IEO, highlighted that the portion of gender-blind projects has decreased while gender-aware projects are increasing. She said the 2011 gender policy has improved gender considerations in GEF operations, but lacks a clear framework (click here to view the presentation).  Describing the updated gender policy, Gabriella Richardson Temm, GEF Secretariat, explained how the new framework will shift from “do no harm” to “do good,” establishing stronger gender analysis and reporting requirements, among others. (click here to view the presentation)

Pilar Barrera, GEF Secretariat, presented an updated stakeholder engagement policy up for approval at this Council meeting, to take effect July 2018. She outlined new requirements for agencies to provide indicative information on relevant stakeholders, formulate an engagement plan, and oversee implementation. Responding to questions, panelists addressed: quantifiable measures and indicators; grievance and appeals mechanisms; and protection for whistleblowers. (click here to view the presentation)

During a panel discussion, Nguavese Tracy Ogbonna, GEF-CSO Network (Gender), made several recommendations to strengthen gender participation, such as: inclusion of CSOs in all processes of the project and program cycle; integrating gender in monitoring, learning and capacity development; and enhancing agency policies, procedures and capabilities and compliance to reflect gender. (click here to view the presentation)

Discussions focused on the process of drafting the Gender Policy, with CSOs highlighting elements for inclusion and expressing concerns relating to some of the submissions not reflected in the draft. Essam Nada, GEF-CSO Network (Stakeholder Engagement), reflected on the Public Involvement Policy, which was initiated in 1996, and highlighted that it has evolved over the years. He referred to the integral role that GEF Secretariat, GEF Agencies and Government play in ensuring effective stakeholder engagement at all levels of the work of the GEF.

Victor Kawanga, Chair, GEF-CSO Network, thanked Council Members, the Secretariat and the GEF-CSO Network and closed the meeting at 5:54 pm.





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