Description of the project:

The PISCES project took place from January 2017 to March 2021 and aimed to support innovative actions by civil society and coastal community small and micro-enterprises for conservation of marine and coastal biodiversity and development of sustainable and resilient livelihoods. It was implemented by CANARI in partnership with the Caribbean Coastal Area Management Foundation (C-CAM), the Caribbean Network of Fisherfolk Organisations (CNFO), the Environmental Awareness Group (EAG), the Fondation pour la Protection de la Biodiversite Marine (FoProBiM), Sustainable Grenadines Inc (SusGren), and the Saint Lucia National Trust (SLNT).

The project was supported by €1M from the European Union (ENV/2016/380-530), managed through the office of the Delegation of the European Union to Barbados, the Eastern Caribbean States, the OECS and CARICOM/CARIFORUM, with partners providing €0.93M in co-financing. The project took place in 10 countries – Antigua and Barbuda, The Bahamas, Dominica, Grenada, Haiti, Jamaica, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and Trinidad and Tobago – but with special focus on six priority marine protected areas/ marine managed areas (MPAs/MMAs).

Twenty civil society organisations (CSOs) (including fisherfolk organisations, community-based organisation and national non-governmental organisations) and 13 nature-based community small and micro-enterprises (SMEs) were targeted for capacity building under the project. A pool of 20 CSO Mentors and 10 SME Mentors supported the capacity building in each country. The Project Steering Committee comprised the six CSO partners as well as four advisory regional organisations (see profiles here).


  • Experiences and local knowledge were documented about actions by civil society and coastal community small and micro-enterprises for conservation of marine and coastal biodiversity and development of sustainable and resilient livelihoods, via almost 40 publications, including GIS story maps videos, photo stories, podcasts, written case studies and papers, and three toolkits.
  • Targeted CSOs built capacity in key areas such as Board, management and leadership development; policies and operational administrative systems; fundraising; human resources and equipment; strategic stakeholder engagement and partnership building; and advocacy.
  • Targeted SMEs built capacity in marketing, financial record keeping and accounting, developing partnerships, identifying new revenue streams and value-added opportunities, and climate-proofing their business.
  • Civil society was more effectively engaged in decision-making processes for marine and coastal resources governance and management in two regional and 10 national processes, including through a collective regional advocacy campaign on the Escazú Agreement.

Key results

1) Capacity building of civil society: 20 Mentors were trained to strengthen organisational capacity of 20 targeted CSOs across the 10 project countries (see profiles). Mentors were trained via two training workshops (see reports of first and second workshops) and a toolkit on CSO organisational strengthening was developed. Existing programmes, projects and initiatives that build capacity of CSOs for marine and coastal governance and management were mapped and possible synergies and gaps determined. Based on a needs assessment and development of a targeted capacity building strategy, the 20 CSOs were supported by the Mentors using a combination of training, mentoring, coaching and peer learning. By the end of the project, CSOs demonstrated strengthened capacities in key areas such as strengthened Board and management capacity and leadership, enhanced policies, improved operational administrative systems, hiring of key staff and procurement of equipment, enhanced fundraising capacity, and more strategic stakeholder engagement and partnership building. See summary report on Component 1 process, results and lessons.

2) Documenting cases of innovation: Case studies were documented on actions by civil society and coastal community SMEs for conservation of marine and coastal resources and developing sustainable and resilient livelihoods in the Caribbean (see publications below). These case studies were disseminated widely including via the Caribbean Civil Society SDGs Knowledge Platform and other regional databases. Peer exchanges, particularly engaging Haitian organisations in regional networks, were also done to share knowledge and build networks.

3) Regional Innovation Programme for biodiversity conservation and resilience: The Caribbean Sea Innovation Fund (CarSIF) small grants facility was established by CANARI to support innovation and best practices by CSOs and SMEs to address priority needs and actions in the Caribbean on marine and coastal governance and management (see CarSIF Strategy). The Advisory Group for the CarSIF was established (see Terms of Reference and list of members) and supported design of the programme, selection of projects, and evaluation of results, lessons and recommendations. The CarSIF CSO small grants facility was launched in May 2019 via a closed call by invitation only to targeted CSOs under the PISCES project. Nine CSOs from seven PISCES countries were awarded small grants ranging from US$1,000 to US$11,000. They delivered practical actions to strengthen public support for MPAs/MPA management, raise awareness of issues and threats in the coastal zone (including to one globally threatened species, the Union Island gecko), support coastal livelihoods, facilitate ecosystem restoration and build organisational capacity to carry out biophysical monitoring. The SME micro grants facility under the CarSIF was launched in November 2019 via a closed call by invitation only to SMEs currently engaged under PISCES project. Nine SMEs from eight countries were awarded microgrants of US$1,700 each to undertake capacity strengthening and small business development activities. One SME microgrant attempted to strengthen public support for MPA management through outreach to school students. The other seven focused on building capacity in the areas of organisational infrastructure and materials, human resources, and institutional plans (see capacity-building discussion below). Two SME grants supported the climate-proofing of business operations. See CarSIF summary report on results and lessons learned, including profiles of all the CarSIF grantee projects.

4) Developing and strengthening SMEs: 10 SME Mentors were trained in a methodology to develop and strengthen 13 targeted SMEs from communities around MPAs/MMAs (see profiles). Mentors were trained via two training workshops (see reports of first and second workshops). The SMEs all used the Local Green-Blue Enterprise Radar to do a self-assessment of where they could strengthen their delivery of economic, environmental and social co-benefits. They also completed a needs assessment and identified areas for capacity building to strengthen their businesses. SME Mentors provided coaching and mentoring. Five of the Mentors facilitated national expos which aimed to showcase the work of the SME and stimulate development of partnerships with key stakeholders in the country. Expos were done through: development of a video which was launched via a Facebook Live session; a webinar featuring a presentation by the SME supported by a PowerPoint photo story; an in-person meeting of the Board of the SME and key partners; a fair showcasing products of the SME targeting high level government officials and the public (which also was used as a fundraising opportunity); and development of a video and photo story which could be used by the SME in its outreach to potential partners. Finally, a podcast mini-series was created to document the experiences of five of the targeted SMEs and their Mentors. Overall, several of the SMEs made progress in addressing the capacity building priorities identified in the baseline, for example in strengthening marketing, financial record keeping and accounting, developing partnerships, identifying new revenue streams and value-added opportunities.  Strengthened capacity of the leaders of the enterprises was a common feature. See summary report on Component 4 process, results and lessons.

5) Supporting civil society advocacy: The project supported civil society to input into the regional process for development of CARICOM Biodiversity Strategy as well as CSOs in Grenada, Saint Lucia and St. Kitts and Nevis to engage in development of three national laws and two national strategies on environmental management/ climate change. A regional survey on the needs and opportunities for environmental advocacy by Caribbean civil society was undertaken which highlighted the need for capacity building, knowledge exchange and partnerships (see report here.) To contribute to capacity building, CANARI developed an advocacy toolkit for Caribbean civil society organisations and facilitated a virtual four-week short course for CSOs (see report of the advocacy training). An advocacy strategy was developed to guide the regional campaign on the signing and ratification of the Regional Agreement on Access to Information, Public Participation and Justice in Environmental Matters in Latin America and the Caribbean (Escazú Agreement). CANARI collaborated with seven CSOs leading five national advocacy campaigns on the Escazú Agreement, which included development of two online petitions, a letter to the Prime Minister, communique, an awareness video, a jingle for radio and TV, newspaper articles, many social media posts (including animations and interview clips), livestreamed panel events/webinars and four podcasts. CSOs were supported to use ICTs and social networks to document local knowledge via a mini environmental justice campaign on #IfWeHadEscazu with the submissions featured in a GIS story map. Four CSOs were also supported to develop local knowledge products to support their advocacy; they produced a photo story, GIS story map, social media series and video. A case study was developed to present the regional campaign and national campaigns as a GIS story map, including lessons on the collective advocacy experience.

The final independent evaluation of the Action reported that feedback from project participants strongly confirmed that the mentorships, small grants, tools, and peer learning were mutually reinforcing, creating an effective package of support for capacity development.  The advocacy component also clearly contributed to the capacity development of CSOs leading national campaigns.  The evaluation found that there were cases of transformational impact which provide evidence of potential of the project’s approach for supporting capacity development of CSOs and SMEs.



GIS StoryMaps



Photo stories

Written case studies

Issue papers

 Technical reports

 Recent news and blogs

 Related publications

  • GIS story map ‘The Ocean and Us: What a new global treaty means to the people of the Caribbean’


For more information, contact Nicole Leotaud, Executive Director at [email protected]

See related work under CANARI’s Coastal and Marine Livelihoods and Governance programme.