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The GST and Beyond: Understanding the Strategies and Influence of Civil Society Actors

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picture of people at a climate protest

New working paper from ECSIS scholars discusses the importance of incorporating diverse viewpoints into the GST’s design and implementation

Meet the Scholars!

Carsten Elsner, Wuppertal Institute for Climate, Environment and Energy, Germany

Nain Martinez, Center for International Studies, El Colegio de México, Mexico

Snigdha Nautiyal, School of Sustainability, Arizona State University, United States

Learn more about the ECSIS program!

Nautiyal S., Elsner C., Martínez N. (2023). The GST and Beyond: Understanding the Strategies and Influence of Civil Society Actors. Working Paper. College Park, MD: Center for Global Sustainability, School of Public Policy, University of Maryland. 27 pp.

  • Understanding civil society participation and engagement in the GST is critical for inclusive climate governance as well as a strong outcome of the GST for ambitious climate policy at the national and international level.
  • This analysis is grounded in rigorous empirical research, including document analysis, creation and examination of a database tracking 165 civil society submissions and 206 engagements in the GST process, as well as a survey sent to 242 emails associated with the submitted inputs.
  • There is growing participation of civil society actors in GST processes over time but many of these actors come from internationally-operating networks, alliances and organizations with limited engagement from subnational and local actors.
  • Capacity building and improved access to resources, networks and spaces for engagement is needed for subnational and local actors to be better represented in the GST.
  • More research into civil society perspectives, strategies, mobilization and engagement pathways is needed to augment the effectiveness and inclusivity of CSAs within and beyond the GST.
  • While civil society engagement in the GST has increased, subnational and grassroots actors remain underrepresented, pointing to systemic barriers to access and participation that must be addressed.
  • Targeted capacity building and simplified engagement pathways are critical for localized civil society voices to meaningfully inform ambitious, equitable climate progress through the GST.
  • Sustained research into diverse civil society strategies and influencer channels can support more inclusive multi-level governance and feedback loops between global and local climate action.
  • The GST presents a vital opportunity to synthesize civil society knowledge and lived experience for catalyzing climate progress, but realizing this potential requires transparent information flows and sustained participatory mechanisms.
  • Simplified procedures, alternative engagement formats and transparent feedback channels could enhance accessible and inclusive civil society participation throughout the iterative GST process.
  • Preliminary survey findings indicate ambiguity and uncertainty around the impact and uptake of civil society inputs, underscoring the need for transparent feedback loops and sustained engagement post-GST to maintain stakeholder interest and investment.

Civil society actors are calling for a more inclusive Global Stocktake that fosters transparency and accountability and pairs ambitious climate action with financial and technical support. Building on previous analysis, a new working paper from ECSIS scholars — Carsten Elsner, Nain Martínez, and Snigdha Nautiyal —  analyzes civil society participation and engagement to integrate inclusive governance within and beyond the Global Stocktake. 

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