ACP needs stronger, structured connections with civil society
From a civil society perspective, the ACP as an organisation should foster more structured cooperation between the member states, and have a joint programme execution strategy targeting geographical, ecological, multi country regions. There should be a structured fundraising mechanism and differentiation of roles and responsibilities, so that at different levels duties are aligned to best utilize capacities at that level, implying the work get to the ground and end target beneficiaries.
To help its member states, the ACP can also support policy processes for members by influencing and supporting as one unit, and optimizing on the power of numbers of the 79 countries. The ACP organisation could collaborate in the development of multi country regional or thematic joint initiatives, according to prioritized need areas. ACP can spearhead and provide more funds through the EDF or partnerships with European NGOs.
With the Anglophone member countries, the target beneficiaries of the work carried through the Civil Society networks can be reached by establishing contact nodes/units hosted by a civil society organisation (CSO) from that region, and a contact person too. The central offices in Europe have been rarely accessed by Anglophone CSOs. ACP may also profile its work among the government ministries and agencies working in development areas they are engaged in. This way, it is more accessible at National and local level to partner with ACP and related institutions.
As far as connecting with Caribbean and Pacific people and agencies, it is valuable to exchange and share information on culture, innovations, policy processes, environmental management, eco-tourism and research agenda in agriculture. These may require adaptation to suit the African context but work equally well if thought out.
But overall, I think the ACP’s impact on the ground is quite trivial. The group cannot exist without the EU primarily due to the resource/funding aspect. However, there are areas where the Group can provide a united voice internationally, including the promotion of favourable legal, economic and political environments for sustainable development, as well as environmental protection issues.*
The views expressed are entirely those of the author. They do not necessarily represent the views of the ACP Group or any of its member states, the ACP Secretariat or the ACP Eminent Persons Group.