In 2014 there was no structured mechanism for civil society engagement with the Caribbean regional policy making body, CARICOM (The Caribbean Community). Civic voice engagement was largely adhoc and there was expressed dissatisfaction by both governments and civil society on the quality and nature of the engagement. With the aim to enhance cooperation with civil society in the Caribbean region to dialogue with CARICOM Heads of Government and advocate on behalf of the sector and Caribbean society, the Commonwealth Foundation supported the work of the Caribbean Policy Development Centre (CPDC) between 2014 – 2017, to establish a Caribbean Consultative Working Group (CCWG).
The CCWG is a multi-sectoral thematic grouping of civil society representatives from six Caribbean countries.
The CCWG was conceived as a means for Caribbean civil society actors to learn from each other and share good practices on policy advocacy in the region. In addition to attending capacity building workshops facilitated by the Caribbean Policy Development Centre (CPDC) with support from the Commonwealth Foundation, the group pooled their collective experience to build a strategy to advocate on one policy issue ‘Sustainable Energy for All’ in the Caribbean.
As Elijah James, who represented the Caribbean Youth Environment Network (CYEN), explained: Despite the different organisations involved in the CCWG, Sustainable Energy was a theme that affected everybody in the CARICOM region, “because of how important energy is to the Caribbean region itself, and more importantly how high the cost of energy is here in the region, which is obviously affecting not only consumers but our economic activity as well. It affects everybody – businesses, consumers, everybody.”
As part of the project, CCWG conducted a number of national consultations in six CCWG member-countries: Antigua and Barbuda; Grenada; Guyana; Jamaica; Trinidad and Tobago; St. Vincent and the Grenadines in 2016 and 2017. The consultations engaged national policy makers and civil society on the enabling conditions to support implementation of sustainable energy initiatives; built awareness of sustainable energy policy and commitments; and, supported consolidating partnerships between civil society and energy officials.