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Sunday 23 September 2018
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Biz Day Eight civil society organisations to benefit from TT$7m in EU grant funding

EU Delegation to TT's Grant Funding Ceremony on February 21, 2018: Ambassador Arend Biesebroek, Head of the European Union Delegation to TT (centre, front), Ambassador Jules Bijl, Kingdom of the Netherlands (centre, back), Monica Paul McLean, Programme Manager, EU Delegation (left) and Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Planning and Development, Joanne Deoraj (second from left) pose with members of the eight civil society organisations that were awarded grant funding totalling TT$7 million to implement two projects in the areas of Business/Economy and Environment/Climate Change. PHOTO COURTESY THE EU DELEGATION.

Eight civil society organisations (CSOs) will benefit from TT$7 million (EUR 870,134.00) in grant funding from the European Union Delegation to TT (EU Delegation).

The groups are expected to contribute at least ten per cent of the cost of their projects.

Ambassador Arend Biesebroek, Head of the EU Delegation, said the grants were awarded "under our most recent Call for Proposals for projects in the area of Environment/Climate Change and Business and the Economy."

"For these projects it was important to identify areas which are in line with both the EU's and the government's development agenda. Hence the focus on business and the economy and environment and climate change. We also requested that interested organisations form consortiums to implement the projects activities."

"These consortiums are important given the challenges civil society organisations face, which often cross sectoral divides. We believe that these consortiums provide an opportunity to involve CSOs through the identification of common and shared interests and create opportunities for deeper collaboration and sharing of resources."

Biesebroek was speaking last Wednesday during the grant contract launch ceremony at the EU Delegation's offices, Sagicor Financial Centre, #16 Queen's Park West, Port of Spain.

Project one is, Enhancing Civil Society Capacity for Governance of Environmental Transparency and Accountability in TT's Extractive Industries.

This is a three-year project which will be implemented by a consortium comprised of The Cropper Foundation, Environment Tobago, Fishermen and Friends of the Sea, Network of Rural Women Producers and the Oilfield Workers' Trade Union.

The EU said this project "seeks to enhance civil society's capacity to act as a watchdog of the extractive industries, to ensure they adhere to high levels of accountability, transparency and compliance to local and international environmental best practices, standards and regulations, and to independently verify the industry's reported environmental data."

Project two is, Capacity Building and Development of Civil Society Organisations for Business in TT. It will be implemented by the Arthur Lok Jack Graduate School of Business in conjunction with the TT Energy Chamber and the TT Manufacturers Association.

"This project seeks to strengthen the capacity of national and local CSOs and improve their effectiveness in participating in decision making, as well as in implementing national and local policies related to business and the economy."

Both projects are being funded under the 11th European Development Fund (EDF) National Indicative Programme, Support to Civil Society Organisations and "is in line with the EU's strategy to support CSO's in recognition of the critical role they play in supporting development."

The EU Delegation also expressed hope that its support will result in enhanced capacity building and organisational development of CSOs.

"This means that CSOs will be better able to redefine their roles, functions and structures; strengthen their existing partnerships and dialogue spaces and reinforce their linkages and interactions with other non-state actors at the local, national and international levels."

Permanent Secretary and National Authorising Officer in the Planning and Development Ministry, Joanne Deoraj, also spoke at the ceremony.

Although TT has more than 3,000 CSOs in operation, Deoraj lamented that many of them "lack governance standards, greater technical capability and efficiency."

"Strengthening our CSOs is essential in order to have greater developmental impacts as it will enable them to attract increased funding as well as short-term volunteers and long-term career workers. Government is therefore committed to strengthening CSOs and this assistance from the EU serves to bolster that effort, as it demonstrates the importance that the international community places on Civil Society in an evolving democratic society."

Deoraj noted that building capacity translates to CSO's having greater influence in policy dialogue and monitoring of public policy as well as effectively improving the quality of their participation in the national development process.

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