GEF Council Consultation Meeting with CSOs
The GEF Council Consultation with Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) meeting took place on 17 December 2018, at World Bank Headquarters in Washington, DC, US. Participants discussed the implications of the seventh replenishment of the GEF (GEF-7) and gender policies, among other agenda items. Victor Kawanga, GEF-CSO Network Chair, opened the GEF Council Consultation with CSOs, and introduced Nguavese Tracy Ogbonna, GEF-CSO Network Vice-Chair.
IISD Reporting Services, through its ENB+ Meeting Coverage, provided daily web coverage from the 55th Meeting of the GEF Council. In addition, IISD Reporting Services has published a summary report of the meeting in HTML and PDF.
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CSO Dialogue with GEF CEO
Naoko Ishii, GEF CEO and Chairperson, reflected on scientific reports released since the June 2018 GEF Assembly, including the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5ºC (SR15) and a World Wildlife Fund (WWF) report released in October showing that the world has lost 60% of its biodiversity since 1970. She stressed that “all the signals are that we are not winning the battle against climate change and environmental degradation; the sense of urgency is becoming really strong.” She said GEF-7 offers “a very powerful instrument” to arrest the underlying causes of these trends, to catalyze transformational change through tackling food systems, sustainable forestry management, the energy transition, and making cities sustainable. She also stressed the importance of the CSO role in getting societies to change.
Responding to questions posed by CSOs, Ishii: agreed that the private sector needs to be involved in projects from the design stage onwards; and stressed that the GEF is small compared to the size of the economic system that must be changed, so “all parties must be realistic in looking for ways the GEF can best play a catalytic role.”
Civil Society Participation in GEF-7
Two panels convened to discuss issues related to CSO participation in GEF-7. The first discussed the implementation of the updated vision to enhance civil society engagement with the GEF. The second considered the evolving role of CSOs in GEF-7.
On the updated vision to enhance civil society engagement, a panel, moderated by Nana Janashia, Caucasus Environmental NGO Network (CENN), and Patricia Turpin, Environment Tobago, discussed the Updated Vision after one year of implementation. Pilar Barrera Rey, GEF Secretariat, outlined areas for enhanced engagement identified in the Updated Vision, and panelists provided their comments. Fiu Mataese Elisara, Regional Focal Point for the Pacific, highlighted civil society as a “collective voice” and key GEF partner. He called for a mechanism to enable countries and implementing agencies to support CSOs at the national and regional levels and for commensurate resources to improve CSO engagement with the GEF. Edna Kaptoyo, Small Grants Program (SGP) Indigenous Fellow and Indigenous Focal Point for Africa, called for better funding opportunities for indigenous peoples’ participation in GEF policies and processes, and cautioned that selection of indigenous participants by the GEF Secretariat goes against the principle of self-determination. During the discussion, participants considered possibilities for virtual participation and circulating CSO statements ahead of GEF Council meetings.
On the evolving role of CSOs in GEF-7, Sarah Wyatt, GEF Secretariat, highlighted that two CSOs would be included in upcoming Expanded Constituency Workshops, and noted that, when CSOs can demonstrate a track record of results, they will get attention. Sydah Naigaga, CSO Network, highlighted the value of directing funding to the GEF NGO voluntary fund to ensure that national-level NGOs are involved in GEF-7. Yoko Watanabe, SGP, discussed the GEF-7 SGP, which she said will emphasize: strategic partnerships/platforms for community-based actions; incubation of innovative solutions and risk taking; a focus on critical landscapes and seascapes for larger impacts; and a focus on social inclusion in maximizing global environmental benefits. Giovanni Reyes, National Coalition of Indigenous Peoples in the Philippines, discussed a project through which indigenous peoples in the Philippines are mapping the remaining areas with pristine biodiversity levels. During the discussion, speakers highlighted the need for easy access to updated information about GEF projects in order to provide appropriate input.
Connecting Environmental Impact and Gender Equality
The panel discussion was moderated by Anar Mamdani, Alternate GEF Council member, Canada, and Gabriella Richardson-Temm, GEF Secretariat. Mamdani introduced the panel, and underscored the importance to Canada of actions to promote gender equality in GEF-7. Richardson-Temm introduced the evolution of GEF’s work on gender issues since 2012.
A panel of CSO representatives discussed issues including: the different knowledge women can bring to the table; incentivizing and empowering women’s entrepreneurship; tapping the energy, skills and abilities of youth to become change agents in environmental policy; and the need to address women’s access to land, land rights and control of natural resources. They also considered the different vision and spirituality indigenous women can bring to addressing environmental problems; the important role women play in transmitting knowledge from one generation to another; and how a gender lens can make climate action more effective, more equitable and more sustainable.
Participants also discussed: the need to involve religious and community leaders in raising awareness about gender in environmental policies; involving various stakeholders alongside women in environmental protection; addressing gender perceptions at the ground level; and the role of gender and climate justice tribunals. Participants highlighted challenges including: introducing clean cookstoves and involving women in chemicals and waste management in African countries; securing free prior informed consent from indigenous communities, particularly women; and building women’s capacity to participate in environmental work and sustainable development. Speakers also highlighted interlinkages among environmental, gender and health issues, and the role of partnerships with central and local governments.
At the conclusion, panelists offered recommendations, including: GEF should make a conscious effort to develop a youth constituency and incentivize youth involvement; governments and donors should consider ways to encourage and inspire young women to engage in environmental issues higher than the local level; consider women as partners or allies, not objects or victims; find ways to translate science into local traditional knowledge; and encourage project boards to have gender balance. Moderator Mamdani summarized the session, noting, inter alia gender equity interacts with many issues, which should not be considered in silos, and the importance of taking onboard the perspectives offered by traditional knowledge and of creating platforms for women and girls to gain access to leadership.
Françoise Clottes, GEF Secretariat, and Steve Gold, UN Development Programme (UNDP), discussed the launch of the publication ‘Women as Environmental Stewards: The Experience of the Small Grants Programme.’
GEF-CSO Network Vice-Chair Ogbonna offered closing remarks, stressing the importance of learning and continuous capacity building for everyone, and political will, partnerships and women’s ownership of land among issues emphasized by participants. She closed the consultation at 4:31 pm.