Recap: CSO-Network Consultation with the GEF Council


WASHINGTON, DC – In anticipation of the 47th Council meeting of the Global Environment Facility (GEF), Land is Life participated in the Civil Society Organizations (CSO) Network preparatory meeting and consultation with the GEF Council. While historically indigenous peoples (IPs) have largely taken a backseat to other issues at the GEF, the members from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) stressed the importance of an increased focus on indigenous issues.

In the Interactive Session with GEF Agencies on CSO Engagement in GEF-6, Steven Gold of UNDP discussed how identifying and applying indigenous knowledge plays a critical role in the areas of climate risk assessment, risk reduction and landscape approach.

Delfin Ganapin, the Global Manager of the Small Grants Programme (SGP), which provides grants of up to $50,000 directly to local communities including indigenous people, community-based organizations and other NGOs, also stated that the SGP has made it a priority to support IPs, as evidenced by its three new initiatives:


1.    Indigenous Peoples Fellowship Program

This program aims to identify IP leaders and provide capacity building, scale up national and global level efforts and provide networking at regional and local levels. Rather than provide a standardized fellowship, the program is designed so that IPs themselves are able to determine what kind of capacity-building they need.

2.    Dedicated Indigenous Peoples Funding Mechanism

Acknowledging that a different approach is necessary to reach certain IP groups, this initiative aims to adapt the grantmaking process. In addition to written proposals, the SGP is envisioning how to allow for photo and video submissions, including providing funding necessary for translation. This approach will ultimately help remove the barriers to submitting proposals for many IPs.

3.    Supporting Indigenous and Community Conserved Areas (ICCAs)

The SGP recognizes that the ICCA approach to conservation is not well understood. Therefore, this initiative aims to increase the awareness of ICCAs by better documenting their impacts and by increasing the engagement of local and traditional communities in the conservation process.


Although these initiatives represent a new focus on including IPs within the GEF framework, there were also concerns about how the World Bank’s policies will affect indigenous peoples. Taken from the official statement on the Minimum Standards on Environmental and Social Safeguards and Gender Mainstreaming GEF policy:

In the current safeguard revision process that the World Bank is developing, serious concerns have been expressed by indigenous peoples. Their concerns must be adequately addressed, respecting existing international standards especially the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

While there were some positive signs that IPs are being better represented within the GEF framework, historically there has been a gap between the recommendations of the CSO-Network and the actions of the GEF Council. With the GEF-6 getting underway, we will see whether the GEF Council and Agencies actually implement these recommendations in this new cycle.



For complete coverage of the GEF Council Meetings, see the IISD Reporting Services