Current and former climate fund observers – the individuals performing the role, as well as the organizations they represent – are the primary constituency and, in fact, the membership at the core of the SAN. Current and past observers of the participating climate funds (AF, CIF, FCPF, GEF, GCF) are eligible to be SAN members. Significantly, the 2018 SAN Strategy defines observers of climate funds as “those who participate actively in any of the civil society or indigenous peoples’ networks on climate finance mechanisms, such as the GCF-CSO network or the FCPF NGO Strategy group, either by attending meetings, joining consultations (in-person or virtual), or contributing to shared documents. Those who serve as active observers or coordinators for these networks/groups will be responsible for confirming who is a qualifying participant, if asked.

Climate fund observers are not a homogeneous group. They represent different constituencies, typically civil society, indigenous peoples and the private sector, which are often themselves fragmented.

The role of observers varies significantly across funds, as does the manner in which these observers organize themselves in networks or coalitions, to act in a coordinated manner and to represent broader constituencies. Furthermore, it is important to distinguish the observers themselves from the constituencies they represent; while the former are intermediaries, the latter are the communities and sectors who are affected or may stand to benefit from climate finance.

It is not the purpose of the SAN to mediate between the interests and positions of these groups, nor to “represent” them with climate funds. A crucial role of the SAN is to ensure that it is the voice of these constituencies that is empowered, and that observers have the tools and the incentives to speak and act in the best interest of those whom they have been entrusted to represent.