NGO Governance Scorecard
A major focus of the CSRD project was the appraisal of the internal and external environment for good governance. The production of the NGO Governance Score Card was one of two (2) key project deliverables aimed at deepening understanding and increasing the information available of internal and external governance issues relative to CARIFORUM NGOs. The research from the NGO Governance Score Card provided NGOs with a mirror image of their internal governance practices and encouraged the strengthening of good governance within the sector. The scorecard highlights that there is strong evidence of understanding and appreciation of the principles of Good Governance among CARIFORUM NGOs, however, organisations can achieve much higher levels of Good Governance if they follow and implement the recommendations of the survey report. Some of the recommendations included strengthening of financial reporting and auditing for NGOs, developing policies which are equitable and inclusive for staff and members of organisations and strengthening relationships between NGOs and government.
CPDC produced a Good Governance Monitor which aimed at assessing the enabling environment for CSOs across the CARIFORUM region. The report was developed with research conducted across twelve (12) countries. It found that within the CARIFORUM region, CSOs have made a significant contribution to policy development within their respective countries but strained relations between the Civil Society Sector and governments have impacted the ability to contribute further. The research further revealed that some CSOs felt excluded from the policy making processes and that there are limited mechanisms in place for their engagement. Some organisations also indicated that there is disregard for their institutional autonomy; and that CSO contributions to the policy process are often undervalued.
CSOs also indicated that information regarding governments’ policies and practices were insufficient and that this raised issues of transparency. CSOs were also not convinced that government upheld and respected their legitimate institutional roles and mandates, more often seeing them as opponents to their mandate instead of treating them as equal partners.
Research, Advocacy and Promotion of NGO Legislation Across the CARIFORUM Region
The immense benefit of NGO legislation to organisations working in the third sector prompted CPDC to undertake research on existing models and policy options across the Caribbean and the Commonwealth Countries. This research led to a comprehensive report which examined the legislative frameworks in existence and identified what was necessary towards drafting NGO legislation. The findings and suggestions of the report have been instrumental in designing a series of consultations on NGO legislation which CPDC undertook across the CARIFORUM region between 2016- 2017.
Recognising that NGOs also needed further guidance on how to properly design and implement advocacy campaigns, CPDC produced an NGO Legislation Advocacy Strategy and Guide. The guide serves as an aid to NGOs to help them in sensitizing all segments of the society to the role and contribution of NGOs, to build national consensus within civil society towards the enactment of enabling NGO legislation; and to encourage NGOs to take advantage of the NGO legislation.
Support for CSOs to promote NGO Legislation
CPDC also supported the work of three organisations namely in Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago and The Bahamas in effort to promote NGO Legislation. The organisation also worked with the NGO sector in Barbados through additional support from the Global Environment Facility, Small Grants Programme of the UNDP. Through this support, CPDC was able to contract a Consultancy team to conduct research on existing legislation in Barbados which governed the set up and operations of NGOs, highlighting a plethora of issues NGOs currently face, and recommendations for improving the legal environment. This research was done through desk research as well as a series of National Consultations, which led to the production of a Draft White Policy which was presented to the Minister of Labour and Social Partnership Relations in Barbados to inform the crafting of NGO Legislation.
Participation in Regional Policy Fora
A key component of Governance is the participation of ordinary citizens in matters which affect their livelihood. CPDC has fostered the participation of civil society organisations and their representatives in key regional policy discussions. One such meeting was held in Guyana during the period, 28th -29th June 2016. The Regional Policy Forum titled “Caribbean Civil Society: Setting the 2030 Agenda Exploring Counter Narrative and Heterodox Thinking” saw CSO leaders from thirteen (13) CARIFORUM countries interfacing with a number of policy makers and leaders from inter-governmental organisations. The forum prioritized the critical development issues as it related to regional development and to confirm and/or identify other priority development issues for the sector. It was the first major meeting of NGOs and CSOs in the CARIFORUM region where critical regional development issues were discussed in detail for policy action, helping to shape the policy advocacy priorities for the CSO sector in CARIFORUM member states.
A second policy forum held under the CCWG mechanism, was hosted in Bridgetown, Barbados entitled “Partnerships for Sustainable Development: The Caribbean and the Post-Cotonou Agenda” from July 4th-July 6th, 2018. The forum saw a number of participants including members of the CCWG and other participants from other civil society networks across the Caribbean region. It also involved key international personnel working in trade policy, gender equality and development work. Some of these organisations included Belgian NGO coalition 11.11.11, European Centre for Development Policy Management (ECDPM), Regions Refocus and Third World Network-Africa. The forum engaged civil society actors and discussed advocacy and negotiation positions and strategies to influence the Post-Cotonou agreement. This was undertaken within the context of the Caribbean CSO SDG priorities. CPDC recognized that the new Post-Cotonou agreement will affect an estimated 1 in every 5 persons in the world and is perhaps the most wide-ranging framework between the EU and African Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) states on trade, investment and development