Within CARIFORUM, there has been a deficit in the institutional and implementation arrangements that allow for the participation of CARICOM Civil Society in the integration process.
The CPDC recognises that meaningful civil society engagement and participation in governance, as independent development actors, is critical for efforts to achieve sustainable development. However, the CPDC is also cognizant that meaningful participation of CARIFORUM civil society has been hindered by a number of factors, including the lack of capacity to effectively engage in the policy process; the lack of an institutionalised mechanism to facilitate dialogue between civil society and CARIFORUM governments and inadequate levels of knowledge of what is needed to better create the enabling legislative environment for NGOs to operate.
The principal need of the CARIFORUM region is to ensure that non-governmental development partners have an opportunity to contribute to the regional development process. The inclusion of stakeholders in the policy-making and development process was outlined in the CARICOM Strategic Plan of 2015-2019. This Plan was commissioned by the CARICOM Secretariat and identifies one of its priorities as establishing a permanent arrangement for engagement/consultation with the regional representatives of the private sector and civil society (NGOs, Labour, Youth, Media, etc.) at the meetings of Councils. The document outlined the need for ongoing information sharing and engagement of these stakeholder groups through technology and Ambassadors. The identified goal of greater engagement highlights one weakness in the region’s policy development model: the absence of a vibrant policy engagement process to receive input from civil society.
The need for such participation has become more urgent within the COVID-19 context. The pandemic has highlighted the increased demand for services from the NGO sector. This project will 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 crucial historical role in Caribbean development.
- Improved CSO participation in the regional development and integration process.
- Improved knowledge base on the contribution of the civil society on social and economic development in CARIFORUM.
- Strengthened capacity of the CSOs to contribute to regional policy-making decisions.
- Increased capacity of CARIFORUM civil society organisations to influence policy dialogue and advocacy.
- To improve the institutional capacity of NGOs to deliver enhanced services and undertake policy advocacy actions.