Terminal evaluation of the Scaling Up Implementation of the Sustainable Strategy for the Seas of East Asia Project

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Evaluation Plan:
2019-2023, Philippines
Evaluation Type:
Final Project
Planned End Date:
Completion Date:
Management Response:
Evaluation Budget(US $):


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Download document TOR_Scaling Up SDS SEA Terminal Evaluation - International IC - final.pdf tor English 938.56 KB Posted 14
Download document TE SDS SEA Final Evaluation with Clearance.pdf report English 1831.60 KB Posted 14
Download document ANNEXES 1 to 15.pdf related-document English 4607.94 KB Posted 19
Title Terminal evaluation of the Scaling Up Implementation of the Sustainable Strategy for the Seas of East Asia Project
Atlas Project Number: 00076225
Evaluation Plan: 2019-2023, Philippines
Evaluation Type: Final Project
Status: Completed
Completion Date: 02/2021
Planned End Date: 01/2021
Management Response: No
UNDP Signature Solution:
  • 1. Sustainable
Corporate Outcome and Output (UNDP Strategic Plan 2018-2021)
  • 1. Output 1.4.1 Solutions scaled up for sustainable management of natural resources, including sustainable commodities and green and inclusive value chains
SDG Goal
  • Goal 14. Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development
SDG Target
  • 14.2 By 2020, sustainably manage and protect marine and coastal ecosystems to avoid significant adverse impacts, including by strengthening their resilience, and take action for their restoration in order to achieve healthy and productive oceans
Evaluation Budget(US $): 40,000
Source of Funding: Project budget
Evaluation Expenditure(US $): 24,000
Joint Programme: No
Joint Evaluation: No
Evaluation Team members:
Name Title Email Nationality
Stephanie Hodge Evaluation Consultant shodge1@gmail.com
GEF Evaluation: Yes
GEF Project Title: EAS: Scaling up the Implementation of the Sustainable Development Strategy for the Seas of East Asia
Evaluation Type: Terminal Evaluation
Focal Area: International Waters
Project Type: FSP
GEF Phase: GEF-5
GEF Project ID: 5405
PIMS Number: 4752
Key Stakeholders: Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Partnerships in Environmental Management for the Seas of East Asia
  • Complex challenges facing coastal and ocean ecosystems require a combination of science and policy, legislation, education, financing, capacity building, and partnerships to effect change.
  • Given limited budget and time, establish synergy and partnerships with relevant agencies and organizations with similar programs and build on the accomplishments of completed and existing programs on coastal and marine management for cost effectiveness and efficiency.
  • Identify national and local leaders who can serve as champions
  • Recognizing the contribution of partners and stakeholders encourages greater participation.
  • Showcasing local benefits creates better appreciation of project’s impacts
  • Strategic adaptive management needs to be applied in cases where political and administrative conditions and changes are affecting the implementation of agreed project work plans/actions.
  • Project implementation is not a “one size fits all” arrangement. The process of adaptive change takes time.
  • People with capacity, capability and commitment to carry on required work, even after donor funding terminates contributes to sustainability.
  • Do not underestimate the time and resources to make meaningful progress to develop projects to attract private capital. There is a need to invest in building entrepreneurial skills and capacity within PEMSEA and local partners. Collaborating with business training enterprises could be useful.
  • The crisis triggered by the Covid-19 pandemic offers valuable lessons on how project implementation can still be effectively undertaken through remote and online work. It is anticipated that the pandemic will shape future planning, implementation and monitoring of projects by instituting adaptive measures that are proven to be working in the current crisis.


186. Generally based on this TER, PEMSEA has performed BASED on the plan and countries are happy. However, at this juncture of UNDP/GEF support, the critical things that need addressing including sustainability and how emerging needs and priorities are being raised. Continuing to address the needs and priorities requires a reflection on governance and coordination of the regionally available evidence and with expert guidance. In terms of transformation on the institutional side, there is a room to fully embrace the blue economy in the governance plan as evidence by the SOC reports.
186. There were some issues raised during the TER evaluation about how to more concretely link the local level downstream work to upstream to policy work but, generally, countries have some form of related policies in place that are linked to the work at building capacity and expanding the ICM approach the relevant coastlines. PEMSEA’s governance and management mode has always been directed at three levels: local, national and regional. The work program on the other hand has tended to be more bottom-up than top-down, with the objective of validating approaches and policy on-the-ground before advancing/proposing national and regional policy. Previous statements in this TE report indicate that all PEMSEA countries, including developed country partners, have learned from PEMSEA’s approach and have incorporated the experiences and knowledge products into national ICM and/or ocean policies.
187. Furthermore, if PEMSEA wishes to differentiate itself from other regional organizations operating in the Seas of East Asia, it must continue to be provide leadership and innovation in sustainable development of coasts and oceans, and continually refresh its outlook. “Similar or at a minimum” should not be acceptable to PEMSEA… only a PEMSEA that helps countries achieve successful and replicable solutions to sustainable development and blue economy growth should be acceptable.

Outcome 1: Partnership and ‘Oceans and Coasts Governance’ PEMSEAs Business Model
188. Key stakeholders put forth that for regional efforts to be meaningful, the work must be complemented by actions at the national and local levels, particularly the planning and decision-making processes. At the national level, for instance key stakeholder put forth that PEMSEA countries supported by this project have set pragmatic, measurable targets that are indicative of progress for improved coastal and ocean governance, including adoption and/or upgrading of national ocean policy, national SDS-SEA/ICM implementation plans, multi-agency/multi-stakeholder institutional mechanisms, scaling-up ICM coverage of national coastlines, capacity building, ratification, and implementation of ocean-related international conventions, and monitoring, evaluation, and adjustment of progress toward national and regional policy objectives and targets (e.g., State of Ocean and Coasts). Most of these targets have been be achieved by the completion of this project. Additionally, the devolution of work authority to local levels has been viewed by stakeholders as ‘progress” in ocean governance in various areas discussed.
189. Stakeholder share a consensus that solid leadership is an essential element in successful ocean governance. Leadership in the sense that it does not simply refer to rank or position, but more to actions “that demonstrate conviction and determination to bring about change, willingness to champion, effective use of available resources and networks, willingness to take risks, efficient teamwork and collaboration, innovation and creativity, effective communication and knowledge sharing, and a result- and impact-oriented focus”. The role of leaders and champions say stakeholders interviewed, is critical to further coastal and ocean governance in the region. Identifying innovative measures is essential to overcome existing governance challenges, and empower persistent and committed leaders from not only government but also civil society, business, and the community as well to take positive steps that effect change and bring benefits. It is not an easy task, but stakeholders agree that PEMSEA has been able to take it on in the past and must stay committed for a successful future transformation.
190. Proposals for improving governance were put forth by key informants to consider. For example, several put forth the following: a) develop sub regional conventions or agreements between neighboring countries (e.g., Gulf of Thailand) where sociopolitical and economic conditions are similar and which could later be incorporated into a greater whole, b) merge various institutional programs on ocean management into a unitary institutional regime (e.g., ASEAN +3); or c) create business model innovations that cut across and are shared by different regional arrangements, thereby strengthening cooperation and interaction across institutions and programs. Other approaches or combinations of approaches may be considered in close collaboration with countries and regional institutions. Stakeholder say “that while it may not be possible to reach a consensus before the next Ministerial Forum, it may be possible to reach an agreement on a road map to strengthened ocean governance with acceptable signposts and a timeframe”. The TER conclusion is that PEMSEA consider moving forward with an informed discussion on Governance.
Outcome 2: Substance and work program, Science-for Policy Related ICM work
191. Stakeholder share a view that PEMSEA is getting better at delivering to needs and with adaptive management, an approach learned through this project assistance. There were some issues raised during the TER evaluation about how to more concretely link the local level downstream work to upstream to policy work but, generally, countries have some form of related policies in place that are linked to the work at building capacity and expanding the ICM approach the relevant coastlines.
192. The approach has been to advocate through these active networks for national-level coordination and/or build on what exists. More might be done to network the business community and the ministers of finance into this work, especially for the blue economy-development nexus.
193. The technical meat of ICM and ICM assessment work, i.e. SOC reporting, is viewed to be central to the PEMSEA mandate and might continue with greater focus on supporting holistic data sets and GIS pictures (Evidence for Policy) and linking this to PEMSEA’s ‘binding ‘ governance potential and work planning processes. SOC is one instrument in the ICM tool box, but the entire tool box needs to be employed to achieve sustainable development. To this end, PEMSEA’s work can better link to existing scientific organizations and institutions through partnerships, not to duplicate their work. Based on this evaluation, there is a need to have discussion on monitoring during the governance meetings for clarity.
194. Other cross-cutting issues such as land-use change and climate change, the nitrogen cycle, ridge to reef management, etc. ential transboundary, regional governace and management. In the past this has been achieved through advocating and being a knowledgeable ambassador with a wide range of stakeholders to mobilize (a key value-added). Being a science STEM to policy mangement lead has begun in the subregion, but more work is needed. This could be through LMEs in order to better coordinate the science. Gaps and clarity on regional ocean monitoring program are needed. Improved networking and partnership arrangement would strengthen opportunities for scientific input into PEMSEA strategies and work programs and to identify emerging concerns and prioirties for targetted research.
Outcome 3: Knowledge management and sharing
195. In terms of good practice and promoting regional cooperation, the need expressed is to continue to build the partnership model, share regional and nationally the good practices and provide the capacity building on needs on priorities expressed by the countries with our audience and scientific inputs at a minimum to remain relevant.
196. The work under component three is regarded as central to PRF and project good performance and expected results. Knowledge management approaches have been a key asset of the PRF. In this regard, PRF can continue its good practice on resourcing partnerships, knowledge management (products and services), visibility, and communication and specifically on quantifying the expected results. PEMSEA can continue supporting local and regional knowledge networks to support national implementing and downstream-upstream policy work, share the innovations and good practices regionally and nationally, and support networking and capacity building on the need for priorities expressed by the countries to remain relevant.



Institutional and financial sustainability

1A. As to future PEMSEA institutional sustainability, the onus is on the PRF to improve its capability of accessing and working within the GEF programming and portfolios to fulfil the needs of countries for SDS-SEA upscaling.


Institutional and financial sustainability

1B.  PEMSEA needs to support the design of an institutional continuity plan and the design of a next-generation human resources strategy to supplement the good human resourcing already in place. Most of the staff members are on projects, and this poses a risk. As discussed, this is inconsistent with PEMSEA’s structure and function as a) secretariat; b) technical services support.


Institutional and financial sustainability
1C. The current COVID-19 disaster represents an opportunity to consider the importance of assessing the digitalization and technological situation of PEMSEA business and work processes. This work will also need to be conducted soon to keep the knowledge-based organization relevant and functioning optimally.


Institutional and financial sustainability
1D. The current COVID-19 disaster represents an opportunity to consider the importance of assessing the digitalization and technological situation of PEMSEA business and work processes. This work will also need to be conducted soon to keep the knowledge-based organization relevant and functioning optimally. • Concerning PEMSEA’s regional oceans and coastal management work as a scientific policy-regional organization, some level of GEF support or partnering/joint implementing arrangement is required. The emerging challenges and issues in the East Asian Seas region that PEMSEA should focus on highlighted by the informed stakeholders interviewed and the review in general show priorities have shifted. While this is an evolutionary process for PEMSEA, it is not an abandonment of what PEMSEA does. PEMSEA can continue to scale up the application of ICM or more broadly integrated management approaches across the region, both geographically and functionally, addressing existing and emerging challenges to sustainable development through building resilience and fostering climate adaptation and innovation. Blue economy is an emerging challenge for many countries, as evidenced in the national SOCs. PEMSEA, in keeping with its vision and mission, can address this challenge through innovation, value-added services, and novel partnership arrangements.


Institutional and financial sustainability
1E. An example of working towards this direction is the pending proposal to IKI-BMU (German Environment Ministry) to assist EAS countries reduce maritime transport emissions through integrated transport modality in partnership with IMO. This will facilitate PEMSEA country partners' implementation of IMO's 2018 initial strategy for reducing GHG emissions from ships: in the short-term by adopting reduction measures applicable by 2023 (e.g. ship speed regulation, energy efficiency reinforcement), and by using low carbon fuels, among others. The project appraisal mission to develop the full-blown proposal will start in March 2021 for a period of 6-8 months.


Institutional and financial sustainability
1F. Other emerging opportunities are currently in motion to help countries/local governments secure and/or allocate climate financing and dedicate specific budget allocation of these funds to coastal and ocean related action through the application to GCF as a regional accredited agency and/or working with LGUs/country partners to navigate budget sources for climate change and disaster risk reduction programs.


Institutional and financial sustainability

1G.  Work on Blue economy policy and private sector engagement and networking should be stepped up.


Partnering: Governance, Mandate
2A. Governance arrangements should be reviewed. It is necessary and imperative for all country partners to contribute financially to the operation of the PEMSEA secretariat.as soon as possible. Financial support from all PEMSEA members is conducive to a lasting partnership arrangement. Voluntary contributions from countries need to be committed and submitted on a regular basis.


Partnering: Governance, Mandate
2B.  An impact study of PEMSEA valued-added at national and regional levels can be done as soon as possible. While it is almost impossible to qualify the value-added, the indirect effect of being able to make practical use of ICM approaches and monitor the state of oceans and coastal at the regional level is tremendous. Countries need to be asked to consider the importance of value-added and put it to use. There was an effort in 2019 which resulted in a report on a Post-2020 direction for PEMSEA, and now need is to bring this report to life. PRF should put some time and effort into evaluating what this project has accomplished (SOCs, financing mechanisms, new services, business model innovation, new partnership opportunities) and develop a business plan/project proposal(s) to countries, Council, partners, etc. based on these outputs, the expertise and knowledge that they have generated, and the partnerships that have been forged. There is no magic solution! It’s all there…but it needs to be digested and packaged in a manner that Partners can better understand and appreciate.


Partnering: Governance, Mandate
2C. The PEMSEA focus on good performance should continue as it will be through performance that it can work towards a value-added intergovernmental platform on the ocean and coastal governance and the scale-up of the ICM/blue economy work. PEMSEA has something to add to the region. Such success will be based on evidence of merit and benefit from the PEMSEA program.


Monitoring and capacity for ICM science-based policy, priority setting, and implementation of SAP target areasx
3A. PEMSEA can continue to show it value proposition and valued-added by augmenting it science- and non-member partnerships, integration and inclusiveness including the political and science stakeholders and partnering and bridging with them. For instance, if there are good people globally and regionally, maximize the opportunity with other LMEs. SOC is a promising planning and management tool this work can be extended in partnership with ongoing work in the region for instance synergies should be explored with ADB –coral triangle project and other oceans research funding, UNESCAP- SDG and environmental statistics are good examples of possible partners.


Knowledge management and building capacity for policy and SAP implementation
4A.  Fostering regional and academic learning networks of the local government to support the PEMSEA SAP implementation, communication, and visibility for policy and regional governance has been a global good practice. This solid work forms a key implement strategy for PEMSEA. This coordination, inclusive work planning, and networking work must continue to support the implementation of capacity building and also achieve the policy targets.

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