Final Evaluation of UN-REDD Bangladesh National Programme

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Evaluation Plan:
2017-2020, Bangladesh
Evaluation Type:
Final Project
Planned End Date:
12/2019
Completion Date:
12/2019
Status:
Completed
Management Response:
Yes
Evaluation Budget(US $):
35,000

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Title Final Evaluation of UN-REDD Bangladesh National Programme
Atlas Project Number: 00085967
Evaluation Plan: 2017-2020, Bangladesh
Evaluation Type: Final Project
Status: Completed
Completion Date: 12/2019
Planned End Date: 12/2019
Management Response: Yes
UNDP Signature Solution:
  • 1. Sustainable
Corporate Outcome and Output (UNDP Strategic Plan 2018-2021)
  • 1. Output 2.1.1 Low emission and climate resilient objectives addressed in national, sub-national and sectoral development plans and policies to promote economic diversification and green growth
SDG Goal
  • Goal 13. Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts
SDG Target
  • 13.2 Integrate climate change measures into national policies, strategies and planning
Evaluation Budget(US $): 35,000
Source of Funding: Project budget
Evaluation Expenditure(US $): 32,550
Joint Programme: Yes
Joint Evaluation: No
Evaluation Team members:
Name Title Email Nationality
Michael Richards
Zakir Hussain
GEF Evaluation: No
Key Stakeholders:
Countries: BANGLADESH
Lessons
1.

High level policy support is critical for strategy and institutional readiness. A key assumption of the NPD was that an effective RSC would broker high level support and achieve the necessary inter-sectoral, departmental and ministerial coordination. In Bangladesh, where climate change vulnerability makes adaptation more urgent than forest-based mitigation, and forestry has a low policy priority, it is unclear whether there is sufficient political will for successful REDD+ implementation (especially if the Results-Based Finance and multi-sectoral approach is assumed).


2.

It was unrealistic to expect good achievement of Outcomes 1 and 2 on such a small budget, and without more proactive advisory support, in contrast to Outcomes 3 and 4.


3.

International technical assistance is critical at this early stage in the development of REDD+.


4.

Guidance to, and support for, the PMU from regular PEB meetings is critical.


5.

Support from RTAs needs be more proactive when, as for components 1 and 2, there is no CTA and few international consultants are involved. Quality control of the deliverables was unsatisfactory.


6.

Formulation of the NP in a way that UNDP and FAO worked independently of each other on each set of outcomes, and without some level of mutual accountability or responsibility, was problematic for UN agency coordination.


7.

There should have been short weekly meetings of UNDP and FAO staff to maintain communication and collaboration levels.


8.

Where there are signs of failing coordination between UNDP and FAO, the lead UN agency country office should be more pro-active in promoting it in close collaboration with the country office (if present) of partner UN agencies.


9.

Absence of a safeguards process reduces the opportunities for stakeholder engagement and promotion of gender equity.


10.

It is unrealistic to expect gender equity and mainstreaming objectives to be promoted solely on the basis of reports.


Findings
1.

The NP, with the complementary support of two USAID projects, has successfully established ‘technical readiness’, but for various reasons (see below) has only partially achieved ‘strategy’ and ‘institutional readiness’, and has therefore only partially achieved its objective and outcomes. Outcomes 3 and 4, which were very well funded and supported by a resident CTA (funded by USAID), an effective Technical Working Group, and complementary inputs of the USAID projects, were achieved in good time. Outcomes 1 and 2, on the other hand, have been poorly funded and technically supported. The NP Manager and Director have worked hard in a difficult context (limitations of budget, policy support, PEB guidance, technical support, etc.). Overall the NP was rated as Moderately Unsatisfactory, with the main reason being the inadequate budget from which many of the problems stemmed. It is noted however that if a good quality National REDD+ Strategy can be achieved by the end of the programme, this could be upgraded.


2.

Positive outputs or achievements of the NP have included submission of the FREL/FRL to UNFCCC; the on-line BFIS GeoPortal (http://geoportal.bforest.gov.bd/); capacity developed of the RIMS Unit; good quality posters and pamphlets based on the UN-REDD Academy materials; three high quality videos (although not yet widely disseminated); workshops with local stakeholders; and international good practice in the process of selecting ethnic minority representatives for the PEB and REDD+ Stakeholder Forum.


3.

As regards Outcomes 1 and 2, the theory of change analysis revealed several assumptions that have not been upheld. From the documentation, stakeholder workshops and interviews, the following factors have negatively affected progress towards strategy and institutional readiness:

• The very limited budget (US $1.3 million) for Outcomes 1-2 compared to other NPs;

• Outcomes 1-2 have received limited international technical support, and this has not been compensated by pro-active support from the RTAs;

• A non-functioning REDD+ Steering Committee (RSC) has negatively affected high level policy support and inter-sectoral collaboration, and made it difficult to mainstream REDD+ in national policies;

• Limited inter-institutional and inter-sectoral collaboration, including data sharing and harmonization problems - underlying this is the ‘forest-centric’ approach and perception of the NP as a forestry programme with Bangladesh Forestry Department (BFD) as the Lead Implementing Partner in spite of advice from several RTAs and in regional REDD+ conferences for a more multi-sectoral approach;

• Sporadic PEB meetings combined with absence of the RSC has left the PMU with limited guidance and support, although the roles of the PEB and RSC were to a limited extent replaced by the Project Steering Committee (PSC) composed of government representatives;

• Limited collaboration between the UNDP and FAO teams (also observed by the 2018 Internal Review), primarily due to the way the NP was formulated with the two teams working independently of each other on the two sets of outcomes, and with the NP Director and Manager having limited influence on the FAO-led activities;

• Budgetary limitations, absence of a safeguards process and the lack of stakeholder fora have made it difficult to secure necessary levels of multiple stakeholder buy-in or promote gender equity or mainstreaming.


4.

At the time of the evaluation mission, there was significant concern about the quality of the National REDD+ Strategy (NRS) draft and the time left to sufficiently improve it, including necessary levels of stakeholder consultation. Several key informants expressed concerns about the quality of the reports on the D&D drivers, identification/prioritization of PAMs and other reports to provide a sound basis for the NRS. For example, poor governance was identified by the drivers’ report as the most important underlying driver, but it is only weakly addressed by the PAMs. More generally the PAMs do not seem sufficiently ‘transformational’ to change the ‘business-as-usual’ D&D drivers.


5.

As regards design gaps, several inputs, activities and outputs that are normally integral to NPs were absent due to the budgetary limitations and have significantly affected strategy and institutional readiness: CTA support for outcomes 1 and 2, a safeguards process, establishment of four stakeholder fora (as opposed to a single REDD+ Stakeholder Forum), and a comprehensive financing and incentives report that could be linked to an exit strategy. Promotion of gender equity and mainstreaming objectives has also to some extent been constrained by budgetary limitations; although three reports on gender issues were commissioned, including an assessment of how the PAMs should be adapted to be more gender-responsive, there was insufficient funding to implement recommendations such as preparation of gender sensitization materials and stakeholder training.


6.

The importance of high level policy support cannot be overstressed; it is surprising that this was only a medium level risk in the National Programme Document given the series of GoB decisions to reallocate forest land to non-forestry uses resulting in extensive deforestation, e.g., establishment of military cantonments, Rohingya refugee camps, and export processing zones in mangrove areas. The MoEFCC has been unable to influence these decisions. As regards the potential for REDD+ implementation, several key informants raised the issue of the low policy priority of forestry, as well as for mitigation compared to adaptation, the complexity and high transaction costs of international REDD+ payments, and lack of donor finance for REDD+ implementation. Even within BFD, REDD+ is seen as less important than other programmes, especially the World Bank Sustainable Forestry and Livelihoods (SUFAL) project with its large budget.


Recommendations
1

Request UNDP CO for technical assistance support to finalize the NRS.

2

Operationalise the RSC and create a high-powered body for overseeing climate change related matters.

3

Request UN Environment to help investigate funding sources for the safeguards process.

4

If it is decided to proceed with a REDD+ implementation phase, make funds available from its own resources for implementation of REDD+ related initiatives.

5

If there is a REDD+ implementation phase, request UN agencies and/or USAID for support to develop a Sub-National REDD+ Action Plan (SRAP) for the CHTs.

6

Assuming there is a REDD+ implementation phase, request UN agencies for financial support to raise stakeholder engagement and capacity building, including on gender equity and mainstreaming.

7

Provide or facilitate funding for activities to meet outstanding readiness gaps, such as the safeguards component, stakeholder capacity building, conducting a comprehensive analysis of financing and incentive measures, cost-benefit analysis of PAMs, and other aspects of institutional and stakeholder readiness. Such funding could be conditional on at least an operational RSC and ratification of the proposed reorganization of the BFD.

8

In the REDD+ implementation phase (if there is one), facilitate coordination between the NP and other UNDP supported forest sector projects, and adopt a more pro-active approach to ensuring better collaboration between UNPD and FAO teams.

1. Recommendation:

Request UNDP CO for technical assistance support to finalize the NRS.

Management Response: [Added: 2019/12/27]

Agreed. UNDP agreed to hire an international consultant and provide technical support to the NRS.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
Hire an international consultant
[Added: 2019/12/27]
PMU/ UNDP CO 2019/05 Completed A consultant was contracted and a final NRS was produced within the duration of the UN-REDD Bangladesh National Programme. The NRS is currently at MOEFCC awaiting approval.
2. Recommendation:

Operationalise the RSC and create a high-powered body for overseeing climate change related matters.

Management Response: [Added: 2019/12/27] [Last Updated: 2019/12/27]

Agreed, but it is beyond jurisdiction of UNDP/UN agencies to operationalize a government entity. UNDP/UN agencies can provide technical assistance, if requested.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
Raise the issue to the Project Board Meeting
[Added: 2019/12/27]
UNDP CO 2019/07 Completed This issue was raised in the final Project Board Meeting. The Government assured operationalization of the same. History
3. Recommendation:

Request UN Environment to help investigate funding sources for the safeguards process.

Management Response: [Added: 2019/12/27]

Agreed. UNDP and UNREDD would reach out to UN Environment to explore funding sources.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
Check back with UN Environment
[Added: 2019/12/27]
UNDP CO / UN-REDD Regional Office 2019/07 Completed UN-REDD Regional Office checked back with UN Environment. However, no fund is available now.
4. Recommendation:

If it is decided to proceed with a REDD+ implementation phase, make funds available from its own resources for implementation of REDD+ related initiatives.

Management Response: [Added: 2019/12/27]

Agreed, but it depends on decision to be made by the government, which is not under control of UNDP and FAO. Nonetheless, UNDP and FAO would share this recommendation with the Project Board meeting to further facilitate the process.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
Raise the issue to the Project Board Meeting
[Added: 2019/12/27]
UNDP CO / FAO 2019/07 Completed This issue was raised in the final Project Board Meeting. The Government stressed that both own fund and external support are needed to implement the strategy.
5. Recommendation:

If there is a REDD+ implementation phase, request UN agencies and/or USAID for support to develop a Sub-National REDD+ Action Plan (SRAP) for the CHTs.

Management Response: [Added: 2019/12/27]

Agreed. UNDP and FAO are willing to provide support to the government.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
Raise the issue to the Project Board Meeting
[Added: 2019/12/27]
UNDP CO / FAO 2019/07 Completed This issue was raised in the final Project Board Meeting. The Government stressed sub-regional planning for all regions, not only for hill region once project concept note on Sub-National REDD+ action plan for CHT has been submitted to the Government.
6. Recommendation:

Assuming there is a REDD+ implementation phase, request UN agencies for financial support to raise stakeholder engagement and capacity building, including on gender equity and mainstreaming.

Management Response: [Added: 2019/12/27]

Agreed. If UNDP is involved in the implementation phase, surely UNDP and FAO will ensure inclusiveness, stakeholder engagement and capacity building.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
Raise the issue to the Project Board Meeting
[Added: 2019/12/27]
UNDP CO / FAO 2019/07 Completed This issue was raised in the final Project Board Meeting. The Government agrees that capacity building and gender equity are keys to development.
7. Recommendation:

Provide or facilitate funding for activities to meet outstanding readiness gaps, such as the safeguards component, stakeholder capacity building, conducting a comprehensive analysis of financing and incentive measures, cost-benefit analysis of PAMs, and other aspects of institutional and stakeholder readiness. Such funding could be conditional on at least an operational RSC and ratification of the proposed reorganization of the BFD.

Management Response: [Added: 2019/12/27] [Last Updated: 2019/12/27]

Agreed. UNDP is ready to support the Government to identify potential funding sources, provided the Government requests UNDP.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
Raise the issue to the Project Board Meeting
[Added: 2019/12/27]
UNDP CO / FAO 2019/07 Completed Two project concept notes have been submitted to government (1- on safeguard and 2 – sub-national REDD+ Plan).
8. Recommendation:

In the REDD+ implementation phase (if there is one), facilitate coordination between the NP and other UNDP supported forest sector projects, and adopt a more pro-active approach to ensuring better collaboration between UNPD and FAO teams.

Management Response: [Added: 2019/12/27]

Agreed. If there is an implementation phase, UNDP and FAO will support coordination among forestry projects.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
Draft a project concept note on REDD++ implementation jointly with FAO
[Added: 2019/12/27] [Last Updated: 2020/06/26]
UNDP CO/ FAO 2020/10 Initiated History

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