Strengthening environmental governance by building the capacity of non-governmental organisations (NGOs)

Environmental governance, broadly speaking, refers to the institutions, policies, rules, and practices that mediate how the international community, nation-states, corporations, and citizens interact with the environment at different levels – global, national, and local. Effective environmental governance means the participation and cooperation of all actors – governments, NGOs, the private sector, civil society and community groups, ordinary citizens – in collaborative efforts towards sustainable development and environmental improvement. It involves citizens and civil society organizations in identifying, creating, and monitoring environment and sustainable development policies and processes. The rationale is at least twofold: citizens and communities should have a voice in articulating the environmental problems and policies that affect them, as well as a role in managing natural public goods and the environmental commons. In other words, the diverse stakeholders who are affected by environment and sustainable development policies and impacts should be able to participate in devising, implementing and monitoring them.

The UNDP-EU NGOs Project 'Strengthening Environmental Governance by Building the Capacity of Non-Governmental Organizations' is a global project funded by the European Union (EU), implemented by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and delivered by the GEF Small Grants Programme (SGP). The project aims to promote sustainable development and improve environmental management in target countries from EU Neighborhood regions of the European Union, through more effective civil society participation in environmental governance. The specific objective of the project is to build the capacities of NGOs in selected countries to the East and to the South of the European Union to engage in environmental governance.

The UNDP-EU NGOs project will focus primarily on strengthening the internal and external capacities of NGOs and developing professional skills for environmental governance. It will do so by providing small grants to several NGO-led projects per participating country. The EU-NGOs Project will improve NGOs’ capacities to participate in an informed and skilled manner in environmental policy formulation and natural resource management, collaborate in decision-making on key issues, and represent the interests of citizens and communities in environment and sustainable development discussions and debates. By promoting coordination and knowledge exchange among NGOs and other partners the project aims to have a wider influence on civil society capacity to engage with governments in the tasks and activities of environmental governance.

Expected results

The project is expected to contribute to a substantial improvement in NGOs’ internal and external capacities and professional skills for environmental governance through grants designed for this purpose. Through the training seminars and other capacity building workshops organized at the country level, the influence of this project is expected to have a multiplier effect on other NGOs and to extend to the wider civil society.

Project activities will be concentrated on grant-making and associated capacity building, training and exchanges in the selected countries. It is expected that grants will cover both internal capacity building (strengthening organizational, financial, and technical skills and knowledge, and strategic planning capacities within the NGO itself) and external capacity building (improving advocacy, communications and outreach, technical/scientific skills, and networks and alliances with other civil society groups) that will enable informed NGO participation in environmental governance processes, inter alia, policy analysis, dialogue, and negotiation; research, monitoring and assessment; and coalitions and campaigns.

Directly implemented by UNDP, with the UNDP Bratislava Regional Center and UNOPS as Responsible Parties, grants will be administered through the grant-making facility of the UNDP-implemented GEF Small Grants Programme, relying on its decentralized structure which encourages ownership and contributes to future sustainability.
 
Currently in its first pilot phase, the EU-NGOs Project is under implementation in Armenia, Belarus, Ukraine, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, occupied Palestinian territory, and Tunisia. Additional countries are expected to join in 2014 subject to future arrangements, and based on the availability of resources and absorptive capacity in each country.

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