The Caribbean Policy Development Centre in partnership with the European Commission (EC) is undertaking a joint three-year grant partnership, to strengthen the capacity of the Non-Governmental Organisation Sector in CARIFORUM States. The project, “Enhancing CARIFORUM’s Civil Society Capacity to Participate in National and Regional Development Programming and Policymaking” emerged from a growing consensus that, meaningful civil society engagement, and participation in governance, is critical to achieving sustainable development. The project builds on the achievements of the 10th EDF-funded project recommendation “that given the scope and depth of the capacity challenges, additional work was required to improve the enabling environment for Civil Society Organisations engagement in policy-making at the national level”.
The project recognises the limited participation of CIVIL Society in the Regional Integration process and aims to build the institutional capacity of CSOs to effectively contribute to policy decisions that impact on their lives and livelihoods. The overall objective is to improve the effectiveness of the strategies and modalities for CARIFORUM Civil Society Organisations to provide developmental services and effectively influence social and economic policies for Caribbean sustainable development.
The project seeks to foster an enabling environment for enhanced civil society involvement in regional development through strengthening advocacy networking, skills capability, access to resources, and documenting and showcasing the sector’s important historical role in Caribbean development.
The need for increased CSO participation has become even more urgent within a COVID-19 pandemic context, and the increased demand for services from beneficiaries. The pandemic has amplified the need for institutional strengthening as NGOs are being challenged to adapt to the “new normal” to provide services and programmes to marginalised Caribbean society sectors. The COVID-19 pandemic has the potential to push the sector’s progress back by at least one decade. Civil society contributions are therefore even more critical in shaping and forging a new path forward from the COVID-19 crisis.
The project also complements and will leverage the work being done by CPDC in their current sub-regional civil society projects which promote good governance and participatory approaches to sustainable development. These CPDC managed projects demonstrate the capacity to contribute to an enhanced regional multi-actor partnership aimed at ensuring stakeholder representation at all levels of the society.
As a recent host to the UNCTAD 15 Civil Society Forum, the CPDC embraces this opportunity to enhance the capacity of the CSOs to create spaces for making useful evidence-based inputs into public policy-making to secure progressive change leading to sustainable development (livelihoods) for citizens of the CARIFORUM region.
Component 1: CARIFORUM EPA Consultative Committee Support Services
This will result in enhanced logistical and coordination services provided to the civil society CARIFORUM EPA Consultative Committee. CSOs will benefit from increased participation activities and mechanisms of the EPA resulting in substantive input into the policy process, and improved access to relevant sector-specific research and information. The resulting heightened quality of CSO engagement will inspire confidence and strengthen their relationship with CARIFORUM governments.
Component 2: Revamped Caribbean (Civil Society) Consultative Working Group (CCWG)
The project aims to improve the networking and policy advocacy capacity of Caribbean NGOs and CSOs by convening the Caribbean (Civil Society) Consultative Working Group (CCWG) advocacy platform, to undertake research, engage national/ local stakeholders, and lead advocacy interventions on national and regional socio-economic policy interventions.
An enhanced and operationalised regional policy advocacy network will result in strengthened CSO advocacy and participation in developing national and regional policies. CARIFORUM CSOs will contribute to policy development and implementation. The CCWG will be the recognised and recommended mechanism to represent the CSO perspectives on a range of governance and development issues. The mechanism will galvanise existing national and regional networks and partnerships to engage with development concerns. The research outputs and guidance resources produced will be placed at the disposal of and utilised by non-state and state actors in regional policy dialogues.
Component 3: Regional Study on NGO Contribution to Social and Economic Development
One regional NGO research process documenting civil society’s contribution to social and economic development in CARIFORUM will be conducted. The expected impact from the empirical documentation will be stimulated public demand for the formal inclusion of the CSOs/NGO sector in policy-making and development processes.
Component 4: NGO Skills Development Programme: Nine Capacity Building Initiatives
A total of nine capacity-building initiatives will be implemented, to improve NGOs’ institutional capacity to deliver enhanced services and undertake policy advocacy actions. This will be realized through access to sub-grant financing, regional and national skills-building opportunities, and tools and resources. The internal governance and operational management systems will also be strengthened. CPDC will once again deliver the NGO Online Management Course resulting in another cadre of NGO personnel trained in non-profit organisational management and policy advocacy.