Tamira Browne, left, and Ashley John.

Tamira Browne and Ashley John represented St. Vincent and the Grenadines a three-day policy advocacy training workshop in Trinidad earlier this month.

The workshop was held by the Caribbean Policy Development Centre, in partnership with the Commonwealth Foundation.

The Caribbean Policy Development Centre is undertaking a project aimed at enhancing the capacity of the Caribbean Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) to effectively engage with the regional policy making process. The main mechanism to be used to achieve this result is the establishment of a Civil Society Consultative Working Group (CCWG) for the region.

Constructive Solutions Inc., founded by Ashley John will be the national focal point for the CCWG. The CCWG is intended to be a multi-sectoral thematic representative civil society grouping.

The CCWG will work on behalf of regional civil society to assist in the coordination of the interventions of civil society in various policymaking processes at the regional level.

The CCWG is intended to serve as a consultative mechanism that provides NGOs and CSOs with an opportunity to have input into regional policy making, and bring their experiences at the sectoral and national level to influence regional policy makers. The goal is to ultimately influence regional integration and the development of policy making by establishing a CSO policy advocacy coordination process. The CPDC in partnership with the CCWG will seek to fill and create spaces for input into the regional policy spaces which will serve to strengthen CPDC’s role as a policy advocate at the regional level for Caribbean NGOs and CSOs.

The CCWG is being established at a time where there is a recognized void within civil society with regards to its ability and capacity to influence regional policy making. This fact is recognized by both civil society, as well as, the CARICOM Secretariat. CARICOM has made several efforts to foster a closer relationship between itself as the intergovernmental body and the region’s civil society movement.

These efforts include:

  • the formulation of a Civil Society Charter (1997),
  • a sponsored regional civil society consultation on greater integration of CSOs which resulted in a 2002 
Liliendaal Statement of Principles (2002),
  • a regional consultative study undertaken by CPDC geared towards establishing a Regional Strategic 
Framework to recommend mechanism for the integration of CSOs into regional policy making spaces. 
CPDC and the wider CSO community has therefore prioritized the establishment of the CCWG as the community’s proactive attempt to represent their constituents within the regional policy making sphere.