Two CANARI country coordinators under the CEPF project led a process to strengthen networking among CSOs through the establishment of national Action Learning Groups (ALGs) in Jamaica and the Dominican Republic. The first of these groups was established in the Dominican Republic in June 2012, and involved the participation of 25 representatives of 19 groups. The first meeting of the national ALG in Jamaica was held in February 2013, and was attended by 20 NGOs and CBOs.
These first two meetings introduced CSO representatives in attendance to the action learning process, and provided an opportunity for organisations working on similar issues to share experiences and lessons learnt. In the Dominican Republic, organisations identified specific ways in which they could assist each other depending on their strength in particular areas, such as financial monitoring or communication and advocacy. In Jamaica, participants identified key challenges and barriers to the effectiveness of CSOs with a biodiversity conservation mandate. In particular, it was noted that networking among CSOs and the need for opportunities to do so in a more systematic manner should be a priority.
In September 2013, the country coordinator in the Dominican Republic, with support from members of the Instituto Dominicano de Desarollo Integral – IDDI (Dominican Institute for Comprehensive Development) co-facilitated a workshop designed to strengthen capacities of CSOs in sustainable financing. Representatives from 15 CSOs working in biodiversity conservation shared experiences and lessons on the most effective ways to improve their organisation’s visibility to attract funding, sustainable management of funds and diversification of funding sources. 10 out of the 15 CSOs in attendance were beneficiaries of CEPF small or large grants.
In April 2014, the country coordinator in Jamaica, in collaboration with Panos Caribbean, a CEPF grantee, facilitated a workshop to apply the action learning methodology to promote continued sharing and learning in communication on biodiversity and biodiversity conservation while drawing on the experience and expertise of the group. The workshop also sought to provide an enabling environment for the realisation of goals crafted under Panos’ CEPF-funded project: Strengthening the Engagement of Caribbean Civil Society in Biodiversity Conservation through Local and Regional Networking and Effective Sharing of Learning and Best Practices.
CANARI is facilitating enhanced networking among leading CSOs working on biodiversity conservation across the Caribbean through its role as Chair of the IUCN Caribbean Regional Committee. This Committee was established in 2010 and formally recognised by the IUCN Council. Work of the Committee and decision-making processes are made open to all members, and a core of 17 national and regional CSOs (from Bahamas, Barbados, British Virgin Islands, Cuba, Curaçao, Dominican Republic, Haiti, Jamaica, Puerto Rico, Saint Lucia and Trinidad and Tobago) and one government agency (from Jamaica) have been working more closely together since then. In elections in 2014, CANARI was again elected as Chair but this will be the last term. Members have been so enthusiastic about the value of enhanced networking that in 2013 they established a separate regional network – Nature Caribé. The mission is to collaborate as a network of Caribbean organisations addressing Environmental Governance, Biodiversity Conservation, and Sustainable Livelihoods through practical actions, research, knowledge sharing, capacity building, advocacy, education and outreach. CEPF supported strengthening of these two regional networks through two small grants. CANARI will continue to collaborate with partner CSOs in these networks and a meeting is planned for December 2014 in Jamaica to develop a plan for collaborative work and a strategy for fundraising.
CANARI also facilitated information sharing among 15 representatives of CSOs from 12 countries and with key regional partners about implementation of the CEPF Caribbean islands programme and results being achieved and lessons learnt. This took place at the CEPF mid-term evaluation regional workshop in July 2013. Continued information sharing is being facilitated via the CEPF Capacité newsletter and CANARI’s Facebook page, where many CSOs continue to post updates on their work.