On request by the GEF Council at its 47th meeting in October 2014, the GEF IEO launched the evaluation of the GEF Civil Society Organization (CSO) Network. The evaluation reviewed the Network’s performance, relevance, effectiveness and results in promoting knowledge dissemination and CSO involvement in GEF policies and programs. The evaluation assessed network performance in the context of other forms by which the GEF engages with civil society. It required wide-ranging consultations across the GEF partnership as well as intensive efforts to gather evaluative evidence from a variety of data sources and stakeholders.
The evaluation conclusions are organized according to two key evaluation questions. Concerning key question 1, To what extent is the CSO Network meeting its intended goals and strategic objectives and adding value to the GEF Partnership and its membership? the evaluation of the GEF CSO Network reached the following conclusions:
- Conclusion 1: The GEF CSO Network continues to be relevant and is delivering results to the GEF Partnership.
- Conclusion 2: The CSO Network’s activities are distant from the country level where GEF projects make their mark and from where the majority of Network CSOs operate. As such, the Network’s is compromised in its ability to inform Council with country perspectives and in servicing its members.
Concerning key question 2, How are Network features contributing to the effective and efficient functioning of the Network? the evaluation of the GEF CSO Network reached the following conclusions:
- Conclusion 3: The CSO Network today is operating in an expanding GEF Partnership without a shared contemporary vision of the role the Network can play within the changing architecture and the resources that it needs to be effective.
- Conclusion 4: Within the context of an increasingly complex operating environment, the Network has strengthened itself organizationally over the evaluation period but governance challenges remain.
Based on the above conclusions, the evaluation formulated the following four recommendations:
- A contemporary vision for the CSO Network should be created within the new GEF architecture. The vision should inter alia a) clarify the Network’s role, b) set out a shared understanding amongst all parts of the Partnership of the Network’s contribution in guarding the global commons and c) identify a modality to appropriately finance Network activities.
- The GEFSEC and CSO Network should develop clear rules of engagement that guide cooperation and communications. This could be adjusted as needed.
- The CSO Network should continue to build itself as a mechanism for strengthening civil society participation in the GEF at the global, regional and national levels, paying particular attention to: membership development, capacity building and value-added working relationships across the Partnership.
- The CSO Network should strengthen its governance, with particular attention to: annual work plans, cooperation with IPAG, terms for the Network’s Regional Focal Points and the complaints process.