External Progress Assessment. UNDP Green Commodities Programme (GCP)

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Evaluation Plan:
2018-2021, RBLAC
Evaluation Type:
Final Project
Planned End Date:
12/2019
Completion Date:
12/2019
Status:
Completed
Management Response:
Yes
Evaluation Budget(US $):
20,000

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Title External Progress Assessment. UNDP Green Commodities Programme (GCP)
Atlas Project Number:
Evaluation Plan: 2018-2021, RBLAC
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
Evaluation Budget(US $): 20,000
Source of Funding: GCP Funds, donor: IKEA
Evaluation Expenditure(US $): 13,750
Joint Programme: No
Joint Evaluation: No
Evaluation Team members:
Name Title Email Nationality
Christian Sieber Team Leader Csieber@outlook.com
GEF Evaluation: No
Key Stakeholders: Private Sector, country offices
Lessons
1.

Although the continuous review of strategies and tools allowed to adjust to a rapidly changing context, and build-in learnings from implementation, it might have deviated some attention from actual implementation and achieving results on the ground (inward looking perspective). It is important to focus on implementation rather than revision.


2.

Commodity platforms can be powerful instruments to contribute to sector transformation. However, progress in implementation is generally slow and full of hurdles. Systemic changes require time and resources, and their ultimate success depends on numerous external factors, including continued political commitment.


3.

The MSCFSC strategy puts the focus on the approach (the „how“), rather than weighing the different dimensions of sustainability against each other. This gives GCP the ability to adjust the content of each MSCFSC intervention according to any given country and sector context, while maintaining its distinctive approach (consistency). Depending on the sector, a special focus can be given to social or environmental topics.


4.

UNDP being an organization that primarily interacts with government counterparts, country offices are not prepared to engage with the private sector. They often lack the methodologies, tools and networks to engage and create interest from private sector partners for joint efforts. GCP has been helpful to build up capacities in CO on engagement with the private sector and multi-stakeholder collaboration.


5.

Global virtual Communities of Practice (CoP) are challenging to handle, sharing information within existing CoP can be an alternative to administrating its own community can be an alternative to administrating its own community.


6.

Measuring the development of capacities of main platform stakeholders (institutional performance, stability and adaptability in regard to MSC) and the quality of interactions among them can be a good indicator of progress towards systemic change


Findings
1.

Relevance: Highly Relevant

- The project has been important to strengthen GCP as a cohesive global programme. The project allowed GCP to further strengthen strategies and tools, reach out to stakeholders within and beyond UNDP, engage in (joint) fundraising and strengthen a shared vision on the programme within the team. 

- The project has no proponent, other than GCP itself, because it is an internal UNDP construction. The project is a UNDP internal construction that seeks to establish a reference framework for GCP’s global activities. 

-GCP’s objective as a programme is highly relevant. Because of the high relevance of the topic, GCP’s efforts to contribute to economic, social and environmental sustainability in global agricultural commodities do not happen in isolation but happen in an ever more crowded universe of different national and commodity initiatives.

- Successful national/subnational action plans/commodity platforms play an important role in demonstrating the relevance of the approach.

- Collaboration with the private sector and commodity related development cooperation and private sector initiatives have multiplied over the last years.

- GCP has been an early mover in putting sustainable commodities on the development agenda and developing multi-stakeholder and sectoral approaches for systemic change, long before the current hype of landscape and jurisdictional approaches has captured the attention of many others.

- The GCP approach is well aligned with UNDP’s Strategic Plan.

- Within UNDP, GCP played an important role in thinking beyond “business as usual” by promoting a systemic approach which challenges the traditional way of implementing projects.


2.

Effectiveness: Satisfactory

- GCP undertook a consistent strategy review process guided by internal and external stakeholder inputs.Despite the excellent alignment of GCP’s strategy with UNDP’s mission and strategies and an increased communication effort, GCP continues to struggle to get appropriate recognition within UNDP.

- GCP and its team members engage in a variety of initiatives. It is not easy to keep track and understand the interdependence of all these activities.

- GCP has been successful in putting sustainable commodity production on the international agenda and forged a new vision for the development of commodity sectors.

- UNDP´s relationship with governments provides GCP a strategic position to promote government led platform initiatives.

- Evaluations of country specific platforms confirm positive learning loops between national experiences and learning and development of support tools provided by GCP. Country focal points assure communication between the global and national levels.

- GCP can be an important broker for knowledge-sharing between UNDP practitioners and bridge builder between international actors/the global debate and country offices. 

- Evaluations of country projects attest good quality of GCPs support to country level implementation.

- Recent developments in M&E are important but need to be strengthened and fully implemented as an integral component of technical assistance.

- The VBVC Initiative has been the most successful strategy in framing the dialogue with global private sector partners.

- At the global level, GCP maintains relationships with a manageable number of global players and GCP maintains diverse relationships with private sector in countries of NAP implementation.

- The activities of the GCC are considered valuable by participants, however, compete with other similar forums.

- GCP has made efforts to improve access to relevant knowledge products.


3.

Efficiency: Satisfactory

- The GCP board provides limited strategic guidance but could be useful to position GCP within UNDP.

- GCP’s main asset is a highly qualified global team. The consultancy-based business model is cost effective, but with limited core funding limits the team’s ability to engage in non-billable activities.

- The project under review achieved its output targets as defined in the ProDoc. There has been no reporting on outcomes and annual reports were activity-based. Thus, it is not possible to measure the achievement of project outcomes.

- Management tools for operational planning and steering are considered fit for purpose. GCP as a programme has developed several monitoring tools, however their implementation is only incipient.

- Although there are evident attribution challenges, there is a need to further substantiate the global results of GCP with concrete data.

- A reviewed communication strategy is in implementation, yet it is too early to measure its impact.


4.

Sustainability: Somwehat Likely

- Continued work to assure the uptake of the GCP approach is needed.

- From a sustainability perspective continued funding of core global operations is perhaps the biggest sustainability challenge for GCP.

- With UNDP embracing GCPs approach, GCP could evolve from a programme to a thematic unit within corporate UNDP.

- Strategic partnerships are important.

 


Recommendations
1

Focus on GCP’s distinctive approach, now defined as the MSCFSC approach, leverage UNDP’s competitive advantage (engaging governments/convening power), and use clear criteria regarding were the MSCFSC approach can be implemented with the greatest potential impact (need to review Green Light Criteria?).

2

Secure stable core funding that enables GCP to finance its global core operations independently from country advisory. Core funding should allow the team to have enough resources for networking, conceptual/strategic reflections and to provide ad-hoc advice (for ex. in project design). Implement a multi-lawyered fundraising strategy that includes traditional (bilateral) donors, non-traditional donors (foundations) interested in innovation and longer-term systemic thinking, as well as access to GCF/GEF resources. Develop suitable fundraising products for each donor group.

3

Assess risks and opportunities of evolving from a programme with proper identity and branding into a corporate UNDP unit/knowledge hub for MSCFSC. Such an integration would have to be carefully designed in order to take advantage of improved leverage and access to UNDP resources, without compromising on the flexibility, agility and innovative spirit of the programme.

4

Evaluate the role of GCP in aggregating and measuring collective intelligence that could result from the articulation of different commodity platforms in landscapes where different commodities coexist. Further, in the same way that GCP pioneered NCPs when sustainable commodities conversations were focused on VSS, today GCP could play a role in broadening the platform approach at subnational levels by including key actors/themes (not necessarily commodity focused) that have a stake in the sustainability of local environmental services and in realizing human rights and gender inclusiveness.

5

Embed M&E into the GCP strategy and put into use existing M&E tools in order to gather data and communicate on achieved results. In parallel, continue to develop indicators that measure the systemic change GCP aims to achieve and engage in a dialogue within UNDP, donors, and peers on how to account for systemic change and indicators that go beyond the traditional focus on hectares, liters or number of smallholders.

6

Focus on implementation rather than continued revision, once the current strategy review process has concluded. In doing so, make sure to focus on strategic deliverables, and pay attention to the needs of country offices, GCC members, and beneficiary governments. Be mindful in understanding the local context and ensure that global tools and advisory fit in and are tailored to local needs.

7

Regarding operations, make sure that new members are properly introduced into GCP and that they are aware about the “broader picture” and not just their area of work. As far as possible, assure foreseeability and contractual stability for GCP consultants (speed up contracting). Maintain good practices related to team building. Make an effort to prioritize and simplify materials and tools in order to facilitate their uptake.

8

If a new internal project for “core GCP” was developed (similar to the one being reviewed), make sure that targets and indicators are aligned with broader GCP M&E efforts and establish a reporting format that besides internal UNDP reporting purposes also serves GCP team’s information needs.

Management Response Documents
1. Recommendation:

Focus on GCP’s distinctive approach, now defined as the MSCFSC approach, leverage UNDP’s competitive advantage (engaging governments/convening power), and use clear criteria regarding were the MSCFSC approach can be implemented with the greatest potential impact (need to review Green Light Criteria?).

Management Response: [Added: 2020/03/31]

GCP is constantly positioning itself as representing and promoting the MSCFSC approach. For the development of the new project document the GCP’s value proposition to build capacities for and accompany this process, measure progress, and induce corrective action where necessary, will be made more visible. No need to take any additional actions.

Key Actions:

2. Recommendation:

Secure stable core funding that enables GCP to finance its global core operations independently from country advisory. Core funding should allow the team to have enough resources for networking, conceptual/strategic reflections and to provide ad-hoc advice (for ex. in project design). Implement a multi-lawyered fundraising strategy that includes traditional (bilateral) donors, non-traditional donors (foundations) interested in innovation and longer-term systemic thinking, as well as access to GCF/GEF resources. Develop suitable fundraising products for each donor group.

Management Response: [Added: 2020/03/31]

Current the project is developing a fundraising strategy and an action plan that will be implemented in the upcoming years. Currently, a fundraising brochure was developed presenting GCP as a global knowledge platform on MSCFSC that can connect local results to the global debate. Additionally, several fundraising products are being produced which will serve to engage donors into the different topics GCP works. All these efforts will be discussed and analysed under the development of the Project Document. No additional actions will be taken.

Key Actions:

3. Recommendation:

Assess risks and opportunities of evolving from a programme with proper identity and branding into a corporate UNDP unit/knowledge hub for MSCFSC. Such an integration would have to be carefully designed in order to take advantage of improved leverage and access to UNDP resources, without compromising on the flexibility, agility and innovative spirit of the programme.

Management Response: [Added: 2020/03/31]

During the strategy meeting that took place in Q4 of 2019, this topic was widely discussed and decisions were taken regarding the role of GCP inside UNDP. A strategy regarding the communications inside and outside UNDP was developed in order for GCP to be included in the corporate offer. This topic will be continuously reviewed in order to adapt the strategy as UNDP embraces the topics GCP works on. All the actions have been taken already.

Key Actions:

4. Recommendation:

Evaluate the role of GCP in aggregating and measuring collective intelligence that could result from the articulation of different commodity platforms in landscapes where different commodities coexist. Further, in the same way that GCP pioneered NCPs when sustainable commodities conversations were focused on VSS, today GCP could play a role in broadening the platform approach at subnational levels by including key actors/themes (not necessarily commodity focused) that have a stake in the sustainability of local environmental services and in realizing human rights and gender inclusiveness.

Management Response: [Added: 2020/03/31]

Although this recommendation is interesting, it goes beyond the scope of GCP and its role inside UNDP. Several efforts are being taken constantly for GCP to aggregate and collect collective knowledge and intelligence, as well as there is a constant effort to go beyond platforms. However, in the development of the new project document this will not be taken into consideration as it escapes the purpose of the programme itself.

Key Actions:

5. Recommendation:

Embed M&E into the GCP strategy and put into use existing M&E tools in order to gather data and communicate on achieved results. In parallel, continue to develop indicators that measure the systemic change GCP aims to achieve and engage in a dialogue within UNDP, donors, and peers on how to account for systemic change and indicators that go beyond the traditional focus on hectares, liters or number of smallholders.

Management Response: [Added: 2020/03/31]

This recommendation is very important and great amount of work has been put into developing the M&E existing tools. Additionally, gathering data and information to communicate results is a process that started at the end of Q4 in 2019 and is extending into 2020, where different products will be delivered. New tools for measuring the measuring systemic change will be developed in 2020 and by the end of the year the new M&E system that was developed in the previous years will be finalized and implemented in a yearly basis. No additional actions need to be taken.

Key Actions:

6. Recommendation:

Focus on implementation rather than continued revision, once the current strategy review process has concluded. In doing so, make sure to focus on strategic deliverables, and pay attention to the needs of country offices, GCC members, and beneficiary governments. Be mindful in understanding the local context and ensure that global tools and advisory fit in and are tailored to local needs.

Management Response: [Added: 2020/03/31]

This recommendation will be taken into consideration and the annual workplans developed for 2020 are focusing on implementation of the strategy that was revised at the end of 2019. Each member of the GCP team have their specific deliverables and currently GCP has reached a clearer understanding of their role and support in order to apply the new strategy in a more structured way.

Key Actions:

7. Recommendation:

Regarding operations, make sure that new members are properly introduced into GCP and that they are aware about the “broader picture” and not just their area of work. As far as possible, assure foreseeability and contractual stability for GCP consultants (speed up contracting). Maintain good practices related to team building. Make an effort to prioritize and simplify materials and tools in order to facilitate their uptake.

Management Response: [Added: 2020/03/31]

new introduction package and plan was developed throughout 2019 for new GCP members to understand our broad work and position inside UNDP. It is planned to be developed in 8 weeks and in 2019 was applied successfully to new team members. No further actions will be taken.

Key Actions:

8. Recommendation:

If a new internal project for “core GCP” was developed (similar to the one being reviewed), make sure that targets and indicators are aligned with broader GCP M&E efforts and establish a reporting format that besides internal UNDP reporting purposes also serves GCP team’s information needs.

Management Response: [Added: 2020/03/31]

In the development of the new Project Document a new results framework will be developed reflecting the evolution GCP has had in the past ten years as well as the new Theory of Change and M&E system that have been developed in the past years. With a more structured and clearer results framework as the programme has already, a simplified one will be developed to facilitate the monitoring of global activities and country support.

Key Actions:

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