Enhancing the CSO role in the GEF mission

Environment Tobago is the Caribbean civil society focal point for the GEF-CSO Network. The position (unpaid) requires that ET coordinate GEF activities at regional level and facilitate input from the region into (GEF) policy. Three years into this arrangement ET now has a clearer picture as regards GEF-CSO Network collaboration. We are also in a better able to comment on the relationship between the GEF and general global civil society. The historical record of the GEF to CSO 'marriage' is chequered when its constant internal wranglings are taken into account. Then again, given the scale of what the initiative intends and covers, conflict such as would have occurred is a clear sign that the democratic underpinning of the exercise is alive.

At this stage of writing - six weeks before the 53rd Council the general feeling among the Network is the GEF, while recognizing the value of their contribution, feels pressure with providing 'support'. That is; financing CSO attendance at meetings, footing the bill for assorted capacity building exercises that could in fact lead to enhanced CSO participation in the GEF mission. The draft document which will inform Council in November re: “enhanced cso invilvement” will probably be reworded but not substantially it seems. As the situation stands now, GEF asserts it is in a bind and that Civil the Society Network should take steps to bear more of its own costs. The Network on the other hand believes the work of the GEF - and the pursuit of the Sustainable Development Goals devolves heavily on community. Perhaps the Network might want to rebrand themselves as such if both parties are to stand any chance of mitigating stress to the environment.