Conservation and Sustainable Management of Key Globally Important Ecosystems for Multiple Benefits

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Evaluation Plan:
2016-2020, Kazakhstan
Evaluation Type:
Project
Planned End Date:
12/2020
Completion Date:
12/2020
Status:
Completed
Management Response:
Yes
Evaluation Budget(US $):
31,000

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Title Conservation and Sustainable Management of Key Globally Important Ecosystems for Multiple Benefits
Atlas Project Number: 97224
Evaluation Plan: 2016-2020, Kazakhstan
Evaluation Type: Project
Status: Completed
Completion Date: 12/2020
Planned End Date: 12/2020
Management Response: Yes
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 13. Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts
  • Goal 15. Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss
SDG Target
  • 13.2 Integrate climate change measures into national policies, strategies and planning
  • 15.2 By 2020, promote the implementation of sustainable management of all types of forests, halt deforestation, restore degraded forests and substantially increase afforestation and reforestation globally
Evaluation Budget(US $): 31,000
Source of Funding: Project
Evaluation Expenditure(US $): 30,500
Joint Programme: No
Joint Evaluation: No
Evaluation Team members:
Name Title Email Nationality
Jean-Joseph Bellamy International Expert jj@bellamy.net
Sergey Sklyarenko National Expert sergey.sklyarenko@acbk.kz KAZAKHSTAN
GEF Evaluation: Yes
GEF Project Title: Conservation and Sustainable Management of Key Globally Important Ecosystems for Multiple Benefits
Evaluation Type: Mid-term Review
Focal Area: Biodiversity
Project Type: EA
GEF Phase: GEF-6
GEF Project ID: 9193
PIMS Number: 5696
Key Stakeholders:
Countries: KAZAKHSTAN
Lessons
Findings
Recommendations
1

Recommendation 1:  It is recommended a no-cost time extension.

The project has been progressing well since its outset until early 2020 when the pandemic outbreak started in Kazakhstan, which impacted negatively the delivery of project activities. A state of emergency was declared on March 15, 2020 putting restrictions on gatherings such as workshops and seminars and also on local travel. Since then, the project implementation team has migrated some activities online but not all; particularly field activities which were suspended. The reduction of project activities was translated in a much lower disbursement of the GEF grant; only 21% of the AWP for 2020 was expanded as of the end of July 2020. The review of the project finances indicates that based on the status as of end of July 2020, the monthly disbursement for the period August 2020 to April 2023 should be USD 168,926 per month to expend the GEF grant by end of April 2023; an 83% increase of monthly disbursements when compared to the period May 2018 to July 2020. Without knowing exactly when the negative impact of the pandemic will recede, it is unlikely that the remaining budget will be expended by April 2023. When considering the good project performance so far, a no-cost time extension is recommended. Despite the fact that the final duration of this extension should be assessed once the pandemic is finally under control and that the project implementation team would have more clarity to plan ahead, it is recommended a no-cost time extension of a minimum of 12 months (one year).

2

Recommendation 2:  It is recommended to increase synergies and knowledge sharing among policy makers, researchers, practitioners and beneficiaries.

Stakeholders are well engaged in implementing the project. However, so far, the engagement of stakeholders is mostly happening at the local level in project targeted areas such as district level stakeholders but also staff in forestries and in PA Administrations; local natural resource users are also being engaged. After almost 2.5 years, the implementation of innovative approaches and techniques started to produce “tangible” results and it is time to focus more on knowledge sharing, seeking synergies among all stakeholders and to learn from each other. It is recommended to increase knowledge sharing and establish a stronger link between local stakeholders (including beneficiaries), district level stakeholders, researchers and policy makers at national level. It is suggested to increase meetings and workshops with the participation of all stakeholders to communicate the progress made and exchange views among participants. Another suggestion would be to organize "field days" with the participation of government representatives from national, district and local levels, forestry and PA staff, researchers, farmers/communities and private sector to review ongoing demonstrations and seek a greater involvement of local communities and private sector in the management of these ecosystems.

3

Recommendation 3: It is recommended to emphasize institutionalization and capacity development of project partners for the remaining implementation period

The project has been successfully introducing innovative approaches to improve biodiversity conservation and sustainable use of natural resources. It includes the introduction of the HCVF concept to protect valuable forests, the TSA methodology to assess the effectiveness of the forestry management system as well as estimate the value of ecosystem services, and the integrated landscape management planning approach to improve the management of PAs and of forests managed by Leskhozes. However, the ultimate success of the project resides in its ability to institutionalize – hence sustain – these innovative approaches and to ensure that capacities required by institutions involved in applying these innovations are developed before the end of the project. It is recommended that the project implementation team focuses on these 2 aspects: institutionalization and capacity development of project partners for the remaining implementation period to ensure that, by the end of the project, achievements will be sustained over the long term. It is noted that this recommendation is much aligned with the coming activities supported by the project and also the anticipation that the government is fully committed to incorporate these innovative measures within its institutional and governance framework.

4

Recommendation 4: It is recommended to undertake capacity assessments of partners to identify capacity gaps and capacity needs to sustain project achievements

As per the above recommendation, it is critical that the project contribute to the development of capacities needed to sustain the project achievements. It is an ambitious project with a broad scope. To succeed, the strategy is underpinned with three key necessary changes: strengthening and expanding the PA system; providing buffer zones around PAs; and improving the coordination and knowledge management for biodiversity conservation activities. It goes without saying that for this strategy to succeed, capacities of key stakeholders need to be in place before the end of the project to ensure the sustainability of results. It is recommended to undertake capacity assessments of partners to identify capacity gaps and capacity needs (skills, knowledge, procedures, human and financial resources, etc.). Once these gaps and needs are identified, to pursue with the appropriate capacity development exercise to address these gaps.

5

Recommendation 5: It is recommended to undertake studies on the carrying capacity of PAs with high eco-tourism potential., Eco-tourism is an economic sector, which was recently put on the priority agenda of the government following the recent President’s address to the Nation (September 1, 2020). As part of “Time for Action” of this address, development of ecotourism was an area promoted by the President. In the meantime, the project has supported the development of guidelines for ecotourism in PAs. These guidelines are currently under review by the government. As much as ecotourism is good for the local population and tourists to enjoy the natural environment, there is also the risk of damaging and disturbing this environment, including disturbing natural habitats. To provide tools and information on the capacity of some natural environments, it is recommended to support carrying capacity studies of PAs with high ecotourism potential, including paying special attention for regulations of recreational tourism, which is expected to be high in some areas in the coming years.

6

Recommendation 6. It is recommended to prepare an exit strategy.

So far, the project enjoyed a good national ownership and the government has already demonstrated its strong interest in integrating these tested innovative measures and more is coming as the project progresses toward its end. Overall, it is expected that the government will continue to support the achievements of the project with the necessary financial resources from the national budget and possibly from other funding sources. In order to facilitate the “transfer” of project achievements from with-the-project to without-the-project, it is recommended to develop a project exit strategy (or roadmap?), identifying what, when, where and how much priorities to sustain project achievements will cost to ensure continuity of project achievements.

7

Recommendation 7:

 

It is recommended to make a few changes to the M&E framework: target for indicator #7 and #12, and means of verification for indicator #5.

The project has collaborated with IUCN to explore how to implement the “green list” standards in Kazakhstan. Following some initial exchanges, including a workshop in Almaty in December 2019, IUCN sent to the project (May 2020) a proposal to establish the “Green List” process in Kazakhstan. However, the cost of this proposal is almost USD 500k and it does not include the cost of some activities such as workshops. The project in its current set up does not have the budget to fund this proposal. Furthermore, it is not clear yet that the government of Kazakhstan made the decision to implement the “Green List” standards in its PA system. It is recommended to change the target from “at least one PA has had a preliminary “green list” assessment” to “Submit a feasibility study to the government and support the government to review and decide to proceed or not with the “Green List” standard.”

Indicator #12 – target: Two functional and replicable models demonstrated as feasible to meet key gaps in private afforestation regulatory framework: One private-sector based, and one community-based

There are no community-based forests in Kazakhstan, all forests are state-owned and a small area of less than 400 ha are privately-owned forests. The national legislation provides for the creation of private forests outside the lands of the forest fund but not for community-based forests. The project has been implementing pilots to test private forest breeding in three regions. It also integrated best practices and lessons learned from GIZ supported pilot plantation projects. Within the forestry legislative context and the lessons learned from past experiences, the project is focusing on the development of model private forest plantation projects. It is recommended to change the target to “Model projects of private forest plantations are developed taking into account natural and climatic conditions and results/lessons learned from implemented pilots".

Indicator #5 – means of verification: Area of newly established PAs, according to government approval decree documents, as reported in annual PIR, and verified by MTR and TE.

The target for this indicator was revised to 1,729,485 ha during the inception phase; it stays the same. However, the “means of verification” of this target was planned through government approval decree(s) of newly created PAs; which is outside of the project control. The project has been supporting the creation of new PAs through scientific analyses and feasibility studies.  It is recommended to change the means of verification for this target to “Documents (scientific background reports and feasibility studies) on the expansion/creation of new PAs were developed and approved by the authorized body.”

8

Recommendation 8: It is recommended to exchange with and access the body of knowledge of the UNDP-GEF-SLT “Transboundary Cooperation for Snow Leopard and Ecosystem Conservation” project.

This project, based at GSLEP Secretariat in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, is ending in December 2020. The objective of the project was “to strengthen transboundary conservation of snow leopard ecosystems and landscapes that ensure stability of global snow leopard population by addressing drivers of existing and emerging threats with special focus in Central Asia.” The project delivered high quality outputs, consisting of methodologies, manuals, guidelines, training courses, recommendations, strategies, etc. integrating leading-edge knowledge on snow leopard conservation to be used by key organizations responsible for the conservation of snow leopards in Central Asian countries and other country members of GSLEP. Most of these tools and instruments exist in both languages - English and Russian. Worth exploring are (i) the Snow Leopard Genome sub-project, a high-quality reference genome (open-source) for snow leopard; and (ii) the Population Assessment of the World’s Snow Leopards (PAWS), a methodology to estimate snow leopard abundance and distribution using a combination of spatial capture-recapture and occupancy models. It is recommended to establish a link with the partners of this project: Snow Leopard Trust (SLT) and GSLEP Secretariat, both based in Bishkek in order to access their skills and body of knowledge.

9

Recommendation 9: It is recommended for UNDP country office to look into faster processing of procurement requests for goods and services

Slow procurement processing, including services such as hiring experts and consultants was one of the rare weaknesses mentioned by stakeholders interviewed for this MTR. It seems that sometimes it takes months between the time of an initial request for a service and the time to have a contract in place; sometimes resulting in long delays in implementing activities. It is recommended for the UNDP country office to look into the processing of this type of transactions and explore ways to speed up the process of procuring a requested good or hiring an expert/consultant for a particular assignment.

10

Recommendation 10: It is recommended to calculate the CO2 benefits using the FAO Ex-ACT tool by the end of the project.

 

The project developers, using the FAO Ex-ACT tool and the GEF guidance calculated that once the project would be completed and be successful in meeting all its targets, it would generate a total of 5,838,328 tCO2eq as benefits. In the meantime, CO2 benefits were not part of the M&E framework to measure the performance of the project. Nevertheless, the CO2 benefits calculation was made to measure the climate change benefits through SFM using the FAO-Ex-ACT tool in line with GEF guidance. This tool requests inputs on hectares of forest and land area affected by the project, as well as degradation or deforestation within and outside the project. It is recommended that this tool is used to calculate the CO2 benefits by the end of the project.

11

Recommendation 11: It is recommended to verify that the project complies with UNDP and GEF communications and branding guidelines

The communications and visibility guidelines to comply with UNDP’s Branding Guidelines and the GEF’s Communication and Visibility Guidelines, including the use of the UNDP and GEF logos are not mentioned in the project document. It is recommended that the project implementation team ensures that the project complies with these guidelines as well as those from the project partners such as the Forestry and Wildlife Committee.

1. Recommendation:

Recommendation 1:  It is recommended a no-cost time extension.

The project has been progressing well since its outset until early 2020 when the pandemic outbreak started in Kazakhstan, which impacted negatively the delivery of project activities. A state of emergency was declared on March 15, 2020 putting restrictions on gatherings such as workshops and seminars and also on local travel. Since then, the project implementation team has migrated some activities online but not all; particularly field activities which were suspended. The reduction of project activities was translated in a much lower disbursement of the GEF grant; only 21% of the AWP for 2020 was expanded as of the end of July 2020. The review of the project finances indicates that based on the status as of end of July 2020, the monthly disbursement for the period August 2020 to April 2023 should be USD 168,926 per month to expend the GEF grant by end of April 2023; an 83% increase of monthly disbursements when compared to the period May 2018 to July 2020. Without knowing exactly when the negative impact of the pandemic will recede, it is unlikely that the remaining budget will be expended by April 2023. When considering the good project performance so far, a no-cost time extension is recommended. Despite the fact that the final duration of this extension should be assessed once the pandemic is finally under control and that the project implementation team would have more clarity to plan ahead, it is recommended a no-cost time extension of a minimum of 12 months (one year).

Management Response: [Added: 2020/12/28]

UNDP agrees with this recommendation. Extension request will be submitted for approval as per established UNDP procedures. A budget revision will be initiated and agreed with the UNDP Regional Office (RTA), taking into account the extension of the Project, and the Project Work Plans will be adjusted taking into account the extension period of the Project. The updated budget and Work Plan will be agreed with the Implementing Partner, UNDP and approved by the Project Board.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
Initiate request for a project extension based on established UNDP procedures
[Added: 2020/12/28]
Project manager 2021/06 Initiated
Revision and approval of the revised multi-year workplan by UNDP, IP and the Project Board
[Added: 2020/12/28]
Implementing partner 2021/06 Initiated
2. Recommendation:

Recommendation 2:  It is recommended to increase synergies and knowledge sharing among policy makers, researchers, practitioners and beneficiaries.

Stakeholders are well engaged in implementing the project. However, so far, the engagement of stakeholders is mostly happening at the local level in project targeted areas such as district level stakeholders but also staff in forestries and in PA Administrations; local natural resource users are also being engaged. After almost 2.5 years, the implementation of innovative approaches and techniques started to produce “tangible” results and it is time to focus more on knowledge sharing, seeking synergies among all stakeholders and to learn from each other. It is recommended to increase knowledge sharing and establish a stronger link between local stakeholders (including beneficiaries), district level stakeholders, researchers and policy makers at national level. It is suggested to increase meetings and workshops with the participation of all stakeholders to communicate the progress made and exchange views among participants. Another suggestion would be to organize "field days" with the participation of government representatives from national, district and local levels, forestry and PA staff, researchers, farmers/communities and private sector to review ongoing demonstrations and seek a greater involvement of local communities and private sector in the management of these ecosystems.

Management Response: [Added: 2020/12/28]

UNDP agrees with this recommendation. Enhanced knowledge sharing and interaction between local stakeholders will be taken into consideration in planning project activities. Enhanced interaction between stakeholders is carried out and is further envisaged in the following project activities: updating Management Plans of pilot PAs, support for Public Councils at PAs; development of Functional Zoning Schemes for landscape planning; development of snow leopard landscape Management Plans.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
Strengthen the work of the Project on improving interaction between stakeholders, partners and beneficiaries by increasing number of meetings and workshops, “field” days
[Added: 2020/12/28] [Last Updated: 2020/12/29]
Project Manager, implemetning partner 2022/06 Initiated History
3. Recommendation:

Recommendation 3: It is recommended to emphasize institutionalization and capacity development of project partners for the remaining implementation period

The project has been successfully introducing innovative approaches to improve biodiversity conservation and sustainable use of natural resources. It includes the introduction of the HCVF concept to protect valuable forests, the TSA methodology to assess the effectiveness of the forestry management system as well as estimate the value of ecosystem services, and the integrated landscape management planning approach to improve the management of PAs and of forests managed by Leskhozes. However, the ultimate success of the project resides in its ability to institutionalize – hence sustain – these innovative approaches and to ensure that capacities required by institutions involved in applying these innovations are developed before the end of the project. It is recommended that the project implementation team focuses on these 2 aspects: institutionalization and capacity development of project partners for the remaining implementation period to ensure that, by the end of the project, achievements will be sustained over the long term. It is noted that this recommendation is much aligned with the coming activities supported by the project and also the anticipation that the government is fully committed to incorporate these innovative measures within its institutional and governance framework.

Management Response: [Added: 2020/12/28]

Management response: Comment 3

UNDP agrees with this recommendation, which will be taken into account when preparing work plans for the next years. The project will contribute to strengthening national capacity, replication and widespread use of the methodology for analyzing the target scenario and the concept of HCVF in institutional and management activities.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
Development and submission to the authorized body and other stakeholders of a methodology and step-by-step guidance for identifying HCVF, a training manual on the management and monitoring of identified HCVF for 8 pilot forest protection institutions
[Added: 2020/12/28]
Project Manager, implementing partner 2022/12 Initiated
The methodology and manual on application of instruments of Targeted Scenario Analysis (TSA) are developed
[Added: 2020/12/28]
Project Manager, implementing partner 2023/04 Not Initiated
4. Recommendation:

Recommendation 4: It is recommended to undertake capacity assessments of partners to identify capacity gaps and capacity needs to sustain project achievements

As per the above recommendation, it is critical that the project contribute to the development of capacities needed to sustain the project achievements. It is an ambitious project with a broad scope. To succeed, the strategy is underpinned with three key necessary changes: strengthening and expanding the PA system; providing buffer zones around PAs; and improving the coordination and knowledge management for biodiversity conservation activities. It goes without saying that for this strategy to succeed, capacities of key stakeholders need to be in place before the end of the project to ensure the sustainability of results. It is recommended to undertake capacity assessments of partners to identify capacity gaps and capacity needs (skills, knowledge, procedures, human and financial resources, etc.). Once these gaps and needs are identified, to pursue with the appropriate capacity development exercise to address these gaps.

Management Response: [Added: 2020/12/28]

UNDP agrees with this recommendation.  The following activities are carried out by the Project within 2 directions:

1) The training program for PA staff is being updated.

2) Training program and 15 standard modules for staff of forest protection institutions are being prepared. Within the confines of this work, a comprehensive assessment and analysis of the current level of skills and potential of 120 forest protection institutions staff, implemented and operating training programs/courses to improve the skills of employees over the past 15 years, identification of training needs at different levels (taking into account gender composition) will also be conducted.  

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
Update and approval by the authorized body of the training modules for PA staff (monitoring, planning, protection, etc.)
[Added: 2020/12/28]
Project Manager, impl.partner 2021/12 Initiated
Development and approval of the training program for forest protection institutions staff (reforestation, forest protection, forest diseases, etc.)
[Added: 2020/12/28]
Project Manager, impl.partner 2021/12 Initiated
5. Recommendation:

Recommendation 5: It is recommended to undertake studies on the carrying capacity of PAs with high eco-tourism potential., Eco-tourism is an economic sector, which was recently put on the priority agenda of the government following the recent President’s address to the Nation (September 1, 2020). As part of “Time for Action” of this address, development of ecotourism was an area promoted by the President. In the meantime, the project has supported the development of guidelines for ecotourism in PAs. These guidelines are currently under review by the government. As much as ecotourism is good for the local population and tourists to enjoy the natural environment, there is also the risk of damaging and disturbing this environment, including disturbing natural habitats. To provide tools and information on the capacity of some natural environments, it is recommended to support carrying capacity studies of PAs with high ecotourism potential, including paying special attention for regulations of recreational tourism, which is expected to be high in some areas in the coming years.

Management Response: [Added: 2020/12/28]

UNDP agrees with this recommendation. Due to Covid-19 Pandemic, currently there is an increase in the development of domestic tourism and consequently, an increase in the flow of visitors to the national parks of Kazakhstan. The Project has conducted research in 5 pilot national parks (Charyn, Sairam-Ugam, Katon-Karagai, Kolsai Kolderi, Syrdarya-Turkestan) and calculated norms of recreational loads for 27 tourist routes and trails. Tested methodology for calculating recreational loads in PAs was approved in 2020 by the Forestry and Wildlife Committee of the Ministry of Ecology, Geology and Natural Resources of RoK for subsequent application at the national level. Based on the analysis of international practices for three pilot national parks (Sairam-Ugam, Katon-Karagai and "Kolsay kolderi"), the Development Strategies and the Management Plan of Ecological Tourism were developed. This work will be continued within updating the Management Plans for 14 pilot PAs.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
Distribution of guidelines for calculating the norms of recreational loads for touristic routes and eco-trails among stakeholders (protected areas, Qazaq tourism, etc.) for practical use
[Added: 2020/12/28]
Project manager, impl.partner 2021/12 Initiated
Implementation of works on updating the Management Plans of 14 pilot PAs with an enhanced section on planning ecotourism activities of PAs
[Added: 2020/12/28]
project manager, impl.partner 2021/12 Initiated
6. Recommendation:

Recommendation 6. It is recommended to prepare an exit strategy.

So far, the project enjoyed a good national ownership and the government has already demonstrated its strong interest in integrating these tested innovative measures and more is coming as the project progresses toward its end. Overall, it is expected that the government will continue to support the achievements of the project with the necessary financial resources from the national budget and possibly from other funding sources. In order to facilitate the “transfer” of project achievements from with-the-project to without-the-project, it is recommended to develop a project exit strategy (or roadmap?), identifying what, when, where and how much priorities to sustain project achievements will cost to ensure continuity of project achievements.

Management Response: [Added: 2020/12/28]

UNDP agrees with this recommendation. The Project will provide for development of the Project Exit Strategy next year (in the second half of 2021), which will contain descriptions of the cost of ensuring continuity of the achieved results of the Project, with subsequent updating until the closure of the Project.  

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
Development of the Project Exit Strategy and endorsement by the Project Board.
[Added: 2020/12/28]
Project Manager 2021/12 Initiated
7. Recommendation:

Recommendation 7:

 

It is recommended to make a few changes to the M&E framework: target for indicator #7 and #12, and means of verification for indicator #5.

The project has collaborated with IUCN to explore how to implement the “green list” standards in Kazakhstan. Following some initial exchanges, including a workshop in Almaty in December 2019, IUCN sent to the project (May 2020) a proposal to establish the “Green List” process in Kazakhstan. However, the cost of this proposal is almost USD 500k and it does not include the cost of some activities such as workshops. The project in its current set up does not have the budget to fund this proposal. Furthermore, it is not clear yet that the government of Kazakhstan made the decision to implement the “Green List” standards in its PA system. It is recommended to change the target from “at least one PA has had a preliminary “green list” assessment” to “Submit a feasibility study to the government and support the government to review and decide to proceed or not with the “Green List” standard.”

Indicator #12 – target: Two functional and replicable models demonstrated as feasible to meet key gaps in private afforestation regulatory framework: One private-sector based, and one community-based

There are no community-based forests in Kazakhstan, all forests are state-owned and a small area of less than 400 ha are privately-owned forests. The national legislation provides for the creation of private forests outside the lands of the forest fund but not for community-based forests. The project has been implementing pilots to test private forest breeding in three regions. It also integrated best practices and lessons learned from GIZ supported pilot plantation projects. Within the forestry legislative context and the lessons learned from past experiences, the project is focusing on the development of model private forest plantation projects. It is recommended to change the target to “Model projects of private forest plantations are developed taking into account natural and climatic conditions and results/lessons learned from implemented pilots".

Indicator #5 – means of verification: Area of newly established PAs, according to government approval decree documents, as reported in annual PIR, and verified by MTR and TE.

The target for this indicator was revised to 1,729,485 ha during the inception phase; it stays the same. However, the “means of verification” of this target was planned through government approval decree(s) of newly created PAs; which is outside of the project control. The project has been supporting the creation of new PAs through scientific analyses and feasibility studies.  It is recommended to change the means of verification for this target to “Documents (scientific background reports and feasibility studies) on the expansion/creation of new PAs were developed and approved by the authorized body.”

Management Response: [Added: 2020/12/28]

The project appreciates that MTE group of experts considered the recommendation of the Project team on adjusting indicators 7, 5 and 12. Based on the MTE's recommendation, amendments to the logical framework of the Project document on the above indicators will be initiated and work on the modified indicators will be carried out with the UNDP Regional Office, Implementing Partner.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
Approval by Project Board of adjusted indicators 7,5,12 considering the provided recommendations
[Added: 2020/12/28]
Project Manager, impl.partner 2021/06 Initiated
8. Recommendation:

Recommendation 8: It is recommended to exchange with and access the body of knowledge of the UNDP-GEF-SLT “Transboundary Cooperation for Snow Leopard and Ecosystem Conservation” project.

This project, based at GSLEP Secretariat in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, is ending in December 2020. The objective of the project was “to strengthen transboundary conservation of snow leopard ecosystems and landscapes that ensure stability of global snow leopard population by addressing drivers of existing and emerging threats with special focus in Central Asia.” The project delivered high quality outputs, consisting of methodologies, manuals, guidelines, training courses, recommendations, strategies, etc. integrating leading-edge knowledge on snow leopard conservation to be used by key organizations responsible for the conservation of snow leopards in Central Asian countries and other country members of GSLEP. Most of these tools and instruments exist in both languages - English and Russian. Worth exploring are (i) the Snow Leopard Genome sub-project, a high-quality reference genome (open-source) for snow leopard; and (ii) the Population Assessment of the World’s Snow Leopards (PAWS), a methodology to estimate snow leopard abundance and distribution using a combination of spatial capture-recapture and occupancy models. It is recommended to establish a link with the partners of this project: Snow Leopard Trust (SLT) and GSLEP Secretariat, both based in Bishkek in order to access their skills and body of knowledge.

Management Response: [Added: 2020/12/28]

UNDP partially agrees with this recommendation. The monitoring system is implemented by Zoology Institute, according to the unified methodology developed by GSLEP. Within the framework of the regional project "Transboundary aspects of snow leopard ecosystem conservation" on the Kazakhstan part, project activities were not implemented. The SFM project was not involved in project implementation, therefore didn’t get the results of work. At the same time, the project took a part at the online meeting on closing the project "Transboundary aspects of snow leopard ecosystem conservation" (20.11.2020) and uses all opportunities to study the developed materials.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
The developed materials of the transboundary project (the “Snow Leopard Genome” sub-project, the Population Assessment of the World’s Snow Leopards) will be received and used at the SFM project events on studying snow leopard
[Added: 2020/12/28]
Project manager 2021/12 Initiated
9. Recommendation:

Recommendation 9: It is recommended for UNDP country office to look into faster processing of procurement requests for goods and services

Slow procurement processing, including services such as hiring experts and consultants was one of the rare weaknesses mentioned by stakeholders interviewed for this MTR. It seems that sometimes it takes months between the time of an initial request for a service and the time to have a contract in place; sometimes resulting in long delays in implementing activities. It is recommended for the UNDP country office to look into the processing of this type of transactions and explore ways to speed up the process of procuring a requested good or hiring an expert/consultant for a particular assignment.

Management Response: [Added: 2020/12/28]

UNDP agrees with this recommendation. Following the business processes review exercise conducted in the beginning of 2020 CO has started consolidating procurement capacities from different projects into a centralized Procurement Unit, this should help to improve standardization & efficiency of the procurement function and reduce the procurement functional cost at the project level by achieving economy of scale.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
Capacity building of the hired staff to ensure timely and prompt review of the cases based on the UNDP procedures
[Added: 2020/12/28]
Operations Unit/Procurement Unit with support of RBEC Regional Procurement Advisor 2021/06 Initiated
Hire additional staff to centralize procurement capacities in one unit (Procurement Unit)
[Added: 2020/12/28]
Operations Unit 2020/12 Completed 6 staff were additionalyl hired to the procurement unit History
10. Recommendation:

Recommendation 10: It is recommended to calculate the CO2 benefits using the FAO Ex-ACT tool by the end of the project.

 

The project developers, using the FAO Ex-ACT tool and the GEF guidance calculated that once the project would be completed and be successful in meeting all its targets, it would generate a total of 5,838,328 tCO2eq as benefits. In the meantime, CO2 benefits were not part of the M&E framework to measure the performance of the project. Nevertheless, the CO2 benefits calculation was made to measure the climate change benefits through SFM using the FAO-Ex-ACT tool in line with GEF guidance. This tool requests inputs on hectares of forest and land area affected by the project, as well as degradation or deforestation within and outside the project. It is recommended that this tool is used to calculate the CO2 benefits by the end of the project.

Management Response: [Added: 2020/12/28]

UNDP agrees with this recommendation.  Starting from 2022, the Project will plan the works on calculation of benefits of CO² from the achieved results of the Project using Ex-ACT Carbon Balance Tool.  As of 2021, the Project will conduct an analysis of existing methodologies for calculating CO² emissions.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
Development of the analysis of the methodology on calculation of benefits of CO2 using the FAO Ex-ACT tool
[Added: 2020/12/28]
project manager 2022/12 Initiated
Calculation of the CO2 benefits of the achieved results of the Project using the FAO Ex-ACT tool at the final stage of the Project.
[Added: 2020/12/28]
project manager 2023/04 Not Initiated
11. Recommendation:

Recommendation 11: It is recommended to verify that the project complies with UNDP and GEF communications and branding guidelines

The communications and visibility guidelines to comply with UNDP’s Branding Guidelines and the GEF’s Communication and Visibility Guidelines, including the use of the UNDP and GEF logos are not mentioned in the project document. It is recommended that the project implementation team ensures that the project complies with these guidelines as well as those from the project partners such as the Forestry and Wildlife Committee.

Management Response: [Added: 2020/12/28]

UNDP agrees with this recommendation and will monitor the implementation of Branding Guidelines of UNDP GEF and project partners.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
Project will ensure compliance with Branding Guidelines of GEF-UNDP and the Implementing Partner
[Added: 2020/12/28]
Project manager 2023/04 Initiated

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