10 June 2019: The Global Environment Facility (GEF) Council Consultation with Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) discussed a proposed paradigm for GEF-CSO partnership as an effective tool for more meaningful engagement of civil society and community-based organizations within the GEF architecture. Participants also considered practical experiences and lessons learned regarding the production, consumption and waste management of plastics.

The Consultation took place on 10 June 2019, at World Bank Headquarters in Washington, DC, US. In opening statements, Akhteruzzaman Sano, Interim Chair, GEF-CSO Network, called for creation of a CSO-government dialogue platform within the GEF. GEF CEO Naoko Ishii noted growing global attention to biodiversity loss and the need for a systematic response to key drivers, proposing a multi-stakeholder coalition.

Moderator Sydah Naigaga, Regional Focal Point, West Africa, CSO Network, emphasized CSOs’ many roles and their challenges with funding and capacity. Kathryn Stoddard, Earth Day Network, presented the proposed paradigm for GEF-CSO partnership. Ariuntuya Dorjsuren, Council Member for Mongolia, reported on recent discussions on national CSO-government dialogue, during a national-level GEF extended constituencies workshop.

Juha Uitto, Director, Independent Evaluation Office, addressed the CSO Network’s added value for increasing benefits after projects end. He stressed the importance of evaluating efforts to scale up, encouraging CSOs to show proof of concept and enter the policy dialogue.

During the discussion, participants focused on, inter alia: influence of political context on success; evaluation beyond projects’ lifetimes; attribution of results to the GEF through counterfactuals; linking CSO efforts across countries; and intellectual property protection. Participants also discussed proposed themes for CSO consultations with the GEF Council during 2020, including: chemicals; land degradation; project resilience; knowledge management; and the economics of gender mainstreaming for development.

During a panel on plastic pollution, which sought to identify solutions from CSOs, government and the private sector, Claude Gascon, GEF, spoke on the GEF’s goal to remove 50,000 tons of plastic from the ocean. Lauren Céline Naville Gisnås, Council Member, Norway, discussed Norway’s push for an international agreement, including financial support, to combat plastics pollution. Emily Woglom, Ocean Conservancy, highlighted the wide-ranging impacts of marine plastic pollution and called for moving to a global circular economy. Froilan Grate, Executive Director, GAIA Philippines, reported on community efforts in Asia to shift to zero waste.

Aminath Abdulla, Maldives Authentic Craft Cooperative Society, discussed efforts to reduce single-use plastics and persuade the Maldives government to ban certain plastics. Coletha Ruhamya, GEF Council member, Rwanda, discussed Rwanda’s plastic bag ban and its move to ban other single-use plastics, stressing the role that civil society can play in changing mindsets to affect the demand for plastics. Jennifer Ragland, Coca-Cola, summarized the company’s ‘World Without Waste’ initiative.

Rolph Payet, Executive Secretary, Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions, explained how a recent amendment to the Basel Convention’s Annexes will change plastics trade. Other interventions from the floor highlighted the work of the Commonwealth Clean Oceans Alliance and the Global Plastic Action Partnership, and invited CSOs to participate.

During the discussion following these inputs, participants highlighted CSO-government collaboration to systematize waste flows and build traceability and circularity, and the need to use recycled materials, not simply recycle waste. Through break-out groups on the three phases of the plastics lifecycle – production, consumption and waste management – participants noted: the need for criteria for redesigning plastics; the fact that consumers are demanding change; plastics as a health issue; the need for “sexy” alternatives to “unsexy” plastic products; civil society’s role in monitoring waste leakage; the different country contexts regarding plastics; and the benefits of partnerships between actors with different comparative advantages.

A panel on financing, moderated by Anar Mamdani, Council member, Canada, focused on private investment opportunities to address plastic pollution, and discussed perspectives from multilateral development banks and other funders.

Rob Kaplan, CEO, Circular Capital, said his firm incubates startups and promotes blended finance in Asia on waste management and recycling. Dorothee Herr, International Union for the Conservation of Nature, discussed efforts to develop bankable recycling projects on climate change and blue economy, underscoring the need for governments to create a proper enabling environment. Arun Abraham, Asian Development Bank (ADB), said ADB is looking to invest in integrated solid waste management incorporating circular economy principles, emphasize policy-based lending, and support market transformation in the plastics chain. Delphine Arri, World Bank, said the Bank is advising governments on policy reforms and developing partnerships involving plastics. David Antoniolli, CEO, Verra, discussed the Reduce Recover Recycle Initiative partnership with major companies to develop a corporate reporting standard to credibly measure and report a company’s plastic footprint in order to create an incentive to reduce it.

The ensuing discussion focused on: expanding project piloting from Asia to Africa and elsewhere; getting accurate data on sources and pathways to establish baselines; financing for plastic waste management; diverting plastic, metal, and organic waste from landfills into energy and other uses; and the possibility for Africa to leapfrog waste management to waste reduction.

In closing remarks, GEF and GEF-CSO Network representatives stressed the need to achieve a circular economy through actions ranging from grassroots community efforts to global agreements, calling for a “dynamic approach.”

Also on 10 June, the GEF Small Grants Programme (SGP) and the UN Development Programme (UNDP) launched a report titled, ‘Plastics and Circular Economy: Community Solutions,’ capturing SGP’s experiences and lessons learned on plastics management in the areas of chemical and waste management, international waters and biodiversity conservation. [IISD RS coverage of GEF-CSO Consultation] [GEF Council meeting documents]