Prior to the 60th meeting of the Global Environment Facility (GEF) Council, the Council engaged in a consultation with civil society organizations (CSOs) on the theme, “Enhancing Climate Resilience: The Role of Civil Society, and Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities.”
The consultation took place virtually on 11 June 2021, with the participation of approximately 240 individuals. It was organized collaboratively by the GEF Secretariat, the GEF CSO Network, the GEF Indigenous Peoples Advisory Group (IPAG), and the GEF Small Grants Programme (SGP), with support from the GEF Scientific and Technical Advisory Panel (STAP).
Using concrete examples from the SGP, speakers highlighted how CSOs, local communities, and Indigenous Peoples can be engaged at all stages of climate adaptation and resilience projects, from design to implementation, and in the process fine-tune projects to local needs and aspirations, build local capacity, increase buy-in and long-term benefits, and promote replication and scaling-up of lessons learned.
Akhteruzzaman Sano, Chair, GEF CSO Network, opened the consultation and called for: setting indicators for outputs, outcomes, and impacts for each project; creating a country-driven monitoring and reporting system; and recognizing the GEF CSO Network as a special GEF Agency.
Carlos Manuel Rodríguez, GEF CEO and Chairperson, said the GEF needs to “dive deeper” in addressing fragile and conflict-affected communities within the countries it supports. He highlighted three key elements for GEF climate resilience projects: rights associated with ownership of environmental services, including implementation and enforcement of payment for ecosystem services (PES) frameworks through market mechanisms; upscaling and mainstreaming existing successful experiences in PES; and helping internalize Nagoya Protocol provisions on access and benefit sharing.
Mette Moglestue, Council Co-Chair (Norway), stressed the GEF Council's interest in increasing CSO participation in climate-related decisions and in ensuring that enough climate finance reaches the local level to rebuild communities.
Finance Modalities Supporting CSOs Related to Climate Resilience and Adaptation
Chizuru Aoki, GEF Secretariat, summarized the role of civil society, and Indigenous Peoples and local communities in Least Developed Countries Fund (LDCF) and Special Climate Change Fund (SCCF) adaptation initiatives, whether as local partners, executing entities, or beneficiaries, particularly in fragile and conflict-affected areas. She said priorities are agriculture, natural resources, and coastal zones.
Mikko Ollikainen, Manager, Adaptation Fund, highlighted the Fund’s pioneering devolution in creating national implementing entities (NIEs) and enhanced direct access projects.
Françoise Clottes, GEF Secretariat, stressed the opportunity the SGP provides to innovate, take risks, and explore new concepts that might be replicated and scaled up. Yoko Watanabe, SGP Global Manager, emphasized that building capacity and resilience of local communities has been at the heart of the SGP’s work since 2009. She launched a book and a video on “Enhancing Climate Resilience: Experiences from the SGP’s Community-Based Adaptation Programme.” Pradeep Kurukulasuriya, UN Development Programme (UNDP), echoed Watanabe’s stress on the SGP’s role in empowering local communities to contribute to sustainable development and GEF CEO Rodríguez’s call for greater GEF ambition in enhancing and scaling up local action.
During the discussion, Maria Leichner, CSO Network Co-Chair, said the comments in the meeting chat would be included in the report. Sana Keskes, Association of Continuity of Generations, Indonesia, suggested the GEF think about promoting more work with CSOs at the regional level, allowing CSOs to share experiences with each other.
Financing Climate Security - Adaptation Experiences in Fragile and Conflict Affected Situations: Cynthia Brady, Wilson Center, moderated this session. She noted that of the 20 most climate-vulnerable countries, twelve are in conflict, with conflicts tripling between 2010 and 2020. She predicted more conflict in the future, with 100 million more people impoverished by 2030. She stressed synergies to foster collaboration, promote peace, and assist adaptation.
Yon Fernandez Larrinoa, Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO), spoke on lessons learned on biocentric restoration through holistic approaches in indigenous food systems. He announced an upcoming book launch on Indigenous Peoples’ food systems, a global hub for co-creating knowledge between scientists and Indigenous Peoples’ organizations, and a white paper calling for mechanisms to reduce power asymmetries for Indigenous Peoples.
Bobby Sayar, FISHAdapt, Myanmar, highlighted lessons from a FISHAdapt project, that strengthening local institutions capacities’ improves: recognition of rights; access to funding; links to the private sector and market; connectivity between communities; and accountability.
Prosper Kalombo, Improving Women and Children's Resilience and Capacity to Adapt to Climate Change, Democratic Republic of the Congo, reported on his project’s stress on establishing farmers’ cooperatives to strengthen skills, identifying local plant varieties that improve climate resilience, agricultural and meteorological information sharing, diversification of revenue sources, and empowerment of women.
Fadimatou Babu, Madakson Cattle Breeders Group, Cameroon, discussed the need to adapt to changing conditions to build capacity in local communities and authorities wherever possible rather than waiting for a crisis to end.
Ghulam Sadiq, Organization for Humanitarian Relief (OCHR), Afghanistan, discussed community empowerment to address climate resilience under the existing conflict conditions.
Katya Kuang-Idba, GEF Secretariat, summarized three points from the presentations: leverage local and traditional knowledge using a people-centered approach; employ participatory approaches across all levels of government and society; and use CSOs to assist in mobilizing resources in fragile or conflict-affected areas.
Inclusion in Community-based and Autonomous Adaptation: Edward Carr, Clark University and STAP, moderated this session, noting that inclusion increases integration of existing knowledge from autonomous adaptation and can leverage opportunities for local communities and Indigenous Peoples.
Jorge Mario Rodríguez, Head, Forest Financing Fund (Fonafifo), Costa Rica, reported on Fonafifo’s 25 years in mapping forest in indigenous territories, which resulted in a 30% increase in women benefitting from PES and 100% participation by indigenous territories. He said territories decided for themselves, through their own institutions, on proposals for forest plans, including distribution and management of funds and reporting on their use.
Roseleen Gurung, Tarayana Foundation, Bhutan, reported on a project on climate-resilient water harvesting. She said local communities were equal partners as beneficiaries and for implementation. She noted the importance of translating scientific knowledge for usability.
Toky Sylvestre, Executive Director, Aquatic Services, Madagascar, said his local NGO helped a former farming/ranching community gain more resilience and generate revenue through fishing with a project to produce and disseminate meteorological forecasts. These forecasts also aided in stocking and conserving fish.
Ibrahim Balila, Sudan, summarized how his project involved local communities from the design stage to align to local needs and differentiate the needs and aspirations of different segments within those communities.
Eurica Douglas, Clarendon Parish Development Committee, Jamaica, explained how her small rural project resulted in huge gains in community involvement and empowerment and is now being used as a model elsewhere within her parish.
Yoshiko Yamaguchi, SGP, presented on a Marshall Islands project that helped develop baseline information on the local deaf community and build capacity within the community to manage the project, which in turn enabled the deaf community to build effective representation at the national level.
GEF CSO Network Chair Sano facilitated the concluding statements. GEF Council Member Lavern Queeley (Saint Kitts and Nevis) emphasized that Indigenous Peoples should not be seen as vulnerable and should be treated with dignity. She emphasized the need for: capacity building; engaging men as well as women, especially young men; and listening during consultations.
Giovanni Reyes, Indigenous Peoples representative, stressed the role of Indigenous Peoples in sustaining global health and stressed the importance of free and prior informed consent of Indigenous Peoples prior to commencing any project.
Lucy Mulenkei, Chair, IPAG, highlighted the diversity of issues discussed and the value of working together as partners.
The consultation concluded at 11:10 am EDT.