Terminal Evaluation for the ABS Project

Report Cover Image
Evaluation Plan:
2021-2025, China
Evaluation Type:
Final Project
Planned End Date:
02/2022
Completion Date:
03/2022
Status:
Completed
Management Response:
Yes
Evaluation Budget(US $):
42,500

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Download document UNDP-GEF-TE-TOR-ABS Project_0602.pdf tor English 499.42 KB Posted 60
Download document UNDP-GEF_ABS_Project_Final_TE_Report_20220302-fully signed_V.pdf report English 3085.33 KB Posted 90
Title Terminal Evaluation for the ABS Project
Atlas Project Number: 00087750
Evaluation Plan: 2021-2025, China
Evaluation Type: Final Project
Status: Completed
Completion Date: 03/2022
Planned End Date: 02/2022
Management Response: Yes
Focus Area:
  • 1. Environment
  • 2. Others
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 1. End poverty in all its forms everywhere
  • Goal 9. Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation
SDG Target
  • 1.4 By 2030, ensure that all men and women, in particular the poor and the vulnerable, have equal rights to economic resources, as well as access to basic services, ownership and control over land and other forms of property, inheritance, natural resources, appropriate new technology and financial services, including microfinance
  • 9.4 By 2030, upgrade infrastructure and retrofit industries to make them sustainable, with increased resource-use efficiency and greater adoption of clean and environmentally sound technologies and industrial processes, with all countries taking action in accordance with their respective capabilities
Evaluation Budget(US $): 42,500
Source of Funding: Project budget
Evaluation Expenditure(US $): 29,450
Joint Programme: No
Joint Evaluation: No
Evaluation Team members:
Name Title Nationality
Camillo Ponziani International Consultant
LIU Shuo National Consultant
GEF Evaluation: Yes
GEF Project Title: Developing and Implementing the National Framework on Access and Benefit Sharing of Genetic Resources and Associated Traditional Knowledge
Evaluation Type: Terminal Evaluation
Focal Area: Biodiversity
Project Type: FSP
GEF Phase: GEF-5
GEF Project ID: 5533
PIMS Number: 5310
Key Stakeholders: FECO
Countries: CHINA, PEOPLE'S REPUBLIC
Lessons
Findings
Recommendations
1

While the Project developed a custom and purpose-built platform (http://www.absch.org.cn) to enable the sharing of technology and knowledge resources with Chinese stakeholders, coined “ABS Clearing-House”, this is different than the CBD Secretariat’s ABS Clearinghouse Mechanism, which is the key international tool to facilitate the implementation of the Nagoya Protocol. One of the requirements of accession is to populate it and maintain current information. As a Party to the Nagoya Protocol, the Project must ensure this is undertaken before operational closure.

2

The Project needs to elaborate a detailed exit strategy, establishing the steps to be taken and pending issues post-project. It is recommended therefore, to augment the Project’s existing exit strategy per best practice example provided by the TE consultant team. This should explore the following pillars / sub-topics:

  • Ongoing activities and operational strands of work should explicitly note whether they will be “phased down”, “phased out” or “phased over”;
  • Transition plan explicitly noting what each of the core members of the legislative expert team will continue to own and promote as part of their ongoing work, what activities are likely to lose momentum and what gaps are foreseen in the near-term;
  • An inventory of different aspects of the Project, including implementation of regulations and contracts, which need to be monitored, how often, by whom and at what cost;
  • Viability strategies for any interim management / coordination support that might be necessary;

A compilation of sources of funding and potential future investment(s) by key stakeholders involved, external third parties and / or international donor community.

3

The Project is developing a compilation of deliverables to systematically document experiences and lessons from the Project’s different components, including from the pilot activities and demonstrations. It is also compiling a book on ABS expected to be published shortly after operational closure. Public awareness and information management need to be approached as over-arching aspects of the ABS framework that require longer-term attention. The Project should consider the inclusion of the following in these deliverables:

  • Specific case studies which have emerged from implementation, not only related to ABS legislation per se, but also operational issues such as essential functions and composition of PMOs and a retrospective on what can be achieved within certain timelines based on the Chinese context;
  • Linkages to lessons of this Project to the broader portfolio of UNDP projects within the region;
  • Assessment of the Project’s contribution to the Sustainable Development Goals, to global environmental benefits and possible entry points for the post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework;
  • Important or interesting areas that have either gone underexplored or not explored at all, such as protection of microbial genetic resources and microorganisms;

Opportunities arising from the study of Digital Information and Big Data.

4

The three pilots and demonstrations between local communities and the private sector have left their mark through a legacy of legislation, provincial and municipal regulations, as well as through 6 inclusive ABS contracts. With little to no previous experience and benchmarking prior to the UNDP-GEF ABS project, things have not always been smooth and there have been challenges and hiccups along the way. Insufficient readiness and preparation resulted in a slow start and a number of inefficiencies during the first Annual workplan. Learning from past mistakes are instrumental in setting new provinces on the right footing so they can hit the ground running. Already there are several provinces, (including Hebei, Jiangsu, Shandong) and municipalities (the city of Guangzhou in Guangdong province) which have expressed their willingness to develop specific ABS measures.

It is recommended that a readiness package / starter kit is prepared for new stakeholders embarking on ABS regulatory discovery and implementation, including model contract(s), sample regulations, an indicative work plan / roadmap and a checklist of near-term priorities and critical questions to be answered at the outset. This kit, based on the experience accumulated by the Project and challenges met in the process, will serve as a valuable reference point and should be accompanied by a list of learning and training resources. While a legislative expert team has agreed to provide provinces with professional support, such a resource will help make the process more self-directed in light of insufficient financial resources.

5

The Project has underscored the importance of capacity when it comes to complex issues such as ABS. While the Project has delivered robust institutional and professional training, the TE consultant team believes it has only scratched the surface on what is necessary going forward. Consultations have corroborated this observation and surfaced the need for ongoing training to different target audiences, including academia, local communities, companies and government personnel - to internalize core concepts.

Continued technical support and funding is needed to consolidate institutional capacities for assuming ABS roles and responsibilities, functions, and provide guidance and ongoing refresher training for the implementation and refinement of national and sub-national ABS frameworks. The Project should explore different avenues for bridge funding until a follow-up initiative is incubated.

6

The UNDP-GEF ABS project has certainly demonstrated the value and benefits of neutral outside management support. Future projects should prioritize external recruitment of a PMO not represented by members of the Implementing Partner or executing entities. The recruitment process should prioritize seasoned management with best practice certification (Prince 2 or PMI).

7

Plan for and carry out a “reality check” re-thinking and adjustment phase before implementation begins. Recognizing that there may be a lapse of a year or more between project design and implementation, it would be advisable for the designers of future projects to specifically build in an inception phase that requires a critical review of project design at start-up, with substantive input from all project partners. During such a substantive inception phase, future projects would do well to:

  • Update the actual situation in participating countries against the context at the time the project document was written;
  • Assess the time and funding proposed for implementation against actual national capacity to deliver;
  • Revise project components and deliverables accordingly; and

Develop work plans on this basis.

8

The Project has strong prospects for replication and upscaling, and there is an enabling environment for ABS made possible through clear signals within the updated China National Biodiversity Conservation Strategy and Action Plan on priority actions related to ABS, as well as through the Fourteenth Five-Year Plan. The Project therefore, should vigorously pursue a follow-up initiative. Regarding the design and programming of similar interventions in the future, the TE consultant team also recommends establishing the specific problem to be solved from the beginning, with a theory of change according to where the route is visualized from the inputs, activities, and products to the expected results or effects. Possible thematic areas for follow-up include:

•       Alignment and harmonization between international negotiation and implementation of domestic ABS issues;

•       Documenting issues arising from implementation of regulations and pursuing subsequent refinements and amendments;

•       Supporting and allocating sufficient time for R&D of genetic resources;

•       Greater inter- and intra-ministerial mainstreaming; and

•       Resolving potential conflicts among overlapping authorities over natural resources, as well as rights-holders of Traditional Knowledge;

•       Through pilots, greater exploration of domestic legal recognition and protection of genetic resource rights assigned to not only ethnic minorities, but also local communities of all ethnic groups.

9

Strengthen cooperation among multiple ministries or departments to improve the integrity and consistency of ABS data and information, especially the cooperation with the Ministry of agriculture and rural affairs of China in future projects, so as to strengthen the support of existing agricultural research data for ABS basic research and database construction.

10

Article 18 of the CBD and Article 23 of the Nagoya Protocol underscore the need for technical and scientific cooperation between Parties to the Convention and to the Protocol. Specifically, Article 23 of the NP encourages Parties to:

“…collaborate and cooperate in technical and scientific research and development programmes, including biotechnological research activities, as a means to achieve the objective of this Protocol. The Parties undertake to promote and encourage access to technology by, and transfer of technology to, developing country Parties, in particular the least developed countries and small island developing States among them, and Parties with economies in transition, in order to enable the development and strengthening of a sound and viable technological and scientific base for the attainment of the objectives of the Convention and this Protocol.

With this in mind and given the Project’s exemplary performance and achievements, it is encouraged that FECO and the core legislative expert team which has supported implementation should register as a “Provider” of technical assistance on the CBD’s Bio-Bridge Initiative platform in order to support requests from Parties that have a dearth in capacity and knowledge on ABS issues in general. China has a lot to offer and ought to take a leadership role globally based on the outcomes of the Project and what has been achieved in a short period of time.

Management Response Documents
1. Recommendation:

While the Project developed a custom and purpose-built platform (http://www.absch.org.cn) to enable the sharing of technology and knowledge resources with Chinese stakeholders, coined “ABS Clearing-House”, this is different than the CBD Secretariat’s ABS Clearinghouse Mechanism, which is the key international tool to facilitate the implementation of the Nagoya Protocol. One of the requirements of accession is to populate it and maintain current information. As a Party to the Nagoya Protocol, the Project must ensure this is undertaken before operational closure.

Management Response: [Added: 2022/04/06]

Fully Accept

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
1.2 continuously provide ABS related information to the technical service provider that is commissioned to maintain the portal
[Added: 2022/04/06]
Division II, FECO 2022/12 Initiated
1.1 report on ABS project outcomes and recommendations will be submitted to MEE, which will bring up the issue of clearinghouse updating and meeting SCBD’s relevant requirements- submission of report in April
[Added: 2022/04/06] [Last Updated: 2022/07/28]
Division II, FECO 2022/07 Completed According to our programme colleague, this key action has been completed. History
2. Recommendation:

The Project needs to elaborate a detailed exit strategy, establishing the steps to be taken and pending issues post-project. It is recommended therefore, to augment the Project’s existing exit strategy per best practice example provided by the TE consultant team. This should explore the following pillars / sub-topics:

  • Ongoing activities and operational strands of work should explicitly note whether they will be “phased down”, “phased out” or “phased over”;
  • Transition plan explicitly noting what each of the core members of the legislative expert team will continue to own and promote as part of their ongoing work, what activities are likely to lose momentum and what gaps are foreseen in the near-term;
  • An inventory of different aspects of the Project, including implementation of regulations and contracts, which need to be monitored, how often, by whom and at what cost;
  • Viability strategies for any interim management / coordination support that might be necessary;

A compilation of sources of funding and potential future investment(s) by key stakeholders involved, external third parties and / or international donor community.

Management Response: [Added: 2022/04/06]

Fully Accept

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
2.2 summarize and draw further on legal experience accumulated at project pilots to provide policy recommendation to relevant departments, promote the process of ABS legislation at national level and facilitate achievement of pertinent outcomes of post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework
[Added: 2022/04/06]
Division II, FECO 2022/12 Initiated
2.3 Take the opportunity of COP15 Part II and the commemoration event of “May 22nd The International Day for Biological Diversity” to promote ABS project results, with raised social awareness and enhanced GEF program impact.
[Added: 2022/04/06] [Last Updated: 2022/09/29]
Division II, FECO 2022/12 Initiated History
2.5 ABS training textbook to be published, by August, 2022
[Added: 2022/04/06]
Division II, FECO 2022/12 Initiated
2.1 7th PSC meeting on March 15th, 2022 was convened and decided how to exit the program in detail with requirement set out on ongoing activities.
[Added: 2022/04/06]
Division II, FECO 2022/03 Completed
2.4 project result compilation to be published, by August, 2022
[Added: 2022/04/06] [Last Updated: 2022/08/26]
Division II, FECO 2022/08 Completed Confirmed by Programme Officers and PMOs on Aug 26 2022. History
3. Recommendation:

The Project is developing a compilation of deliverables to systematically document experiences and lessons from the Project’s different components, including from the pilot activities and demonstrations. It is also compiling a book on ABS expected to be published shortly after operational closure. Public awareness and information management need to be approached as over-arching aspects of the ABS framework that require longer-term attention. The Project should consider the inclusion of the following in these deliverables:

  • Specific case studies which have emerged from implementation, not only related to ABS legislation per se, but also operational issues such as essential functions and composition of PMOs and a retrospective on what can be achieved within certain timelines based on the Chinese context;
  • Linkages to lessons of this Project to the broader portfolio of UNDP projects within the region;
  • Assessment of the Project’s contribution to the Sustainable Development Goals, to global environmental benefits and possible entry points for the post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework;
  • Important or interesting areas that have either gone underexplored or not explored at all, such as protection of microbial genetic resources and microorganisms;

Opportunities arising from the study of Digital Information and Big Data.

Management Response: [Added: 2022/04/06] [Last Updated: 2022/04/11]

Partially accepted. All five recommendations except for the third one concerning microbial genetic resources and microorganisms are fully accepted, because protection of microbial genetic resources and microorganisms was underexplored by the current research and analysis. Since project will be closed very soon, no sufficient resources (both time and budget) allowed for further exploration in this area. But we will definitely put it on our agenda once new projects on ABS is implemented/continued afterwards.    

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
3.1 close communication will be maintained with experts in compilation of the two publications based on completed project results to ensure that most of these points put forward by the TE team are embedded. But others for instance, the protection of microbial genetic resources and microorganisms will still need further research, which hopefully can be carried out in subsequent projects on ABS in the near future.
[Added: 2022/04/06] [Last Updated: 2022/08/26]
Division II, FECO 2022/08 Completed Confirmed by Programme Officers and PMOs on Aug 26 2022. History
4. Recommendation:

The three pilots and demonstrations between local communities and the private sector have left their mark through a legacy of legislation, provincial and municipal regulations, as well as through 6 inclusive ABS contracts. With little to no previous experience and benchmarking prior to the UNDP-GEF ABS project, things have not always been smooth and there have been challenges and hiccups along the way. Insufficient readiness and preparation resulted in a slow start and a number of inefficiencies during the first Annual workplan. Learning from past mistakes are instrumental in setting new provinces on the right footing so they can hit the ground running. Already there are several provinces, (including Hebei, Jiangsu, Shandong) and municipalities (the city of Guangzhou in Guangdong province) which have expressed their willingness to develop specific ABS measures.

It is recommended that a readiness package / starter kit is prepared for new stakeholders embarking on ABS regulatory discovery and implementation, including model contract(s), sample regulations, an indicative work plan / roadmap and a checklist of near-term priorities and critical questions to be answered at the outset. This kit, based on the experience accumulated by the Project and challenges met in the process, will serve as a valuable reference point and should be accompanied by a list of learning and training resources. While a legislative expert team has agreed to provide provinces with professional support, such a resource will help make the process more self-directed in light of insufficient financial resources.

Management Response: [Added: 2022/04/06]

Fully Accept

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
4.1 embed existing elements fit for toolkit into the upcoming publications
[Added: 2022/04/06]
Division II, FECO 2022/12 Initiated
5. Recommendation:

The Project has underscored the importance of capacity when it comes to complex issues such as ABS. While the Project has delivered robust institutional and professional training, the TE consultant team believes it has only scratched the surface on what is necessary going forward. Consultations have corroborated this observation and surfaced the need for ongoing training to different target audiences, including academia, local communities, companies and government personnel - to internalize core concepts.

Continued technical support and funding is needed to consolidate institutional capacities for assuming ABS roles and responsibilities, functions, and provide guidance and ongoing refresher training for the implementation and refinement of national and sub-national ABS frameworks. The Project should explore different avenues for bridge funding until a follow-up initiative is incubated.

Management Response: [Added: 2022/04/06]

Fully Accept

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
5.1 communication is in progress with MARA administered GEF Partnership Program for Sustainable Agricultural Development on how to use ABS project results to generate more opportunities/funding /training
[Added: 2022/04/06]
Division II, FECO 2022/12 Initiated
6. Recommendation:

The UNDP-GEF ABS project has certainly demonstrated the value and benefits of neutral outside management support. Future projects should prioritize external recruitment of a PMO not represented by members of the Implementing Partner or executing entities. The recruitment process should prioritize seasoned management with best practice certification (Prince 2 or PMI).

Management Response: [Added: 2022/04/06]

Fully Accept

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
6.1 consult UNDP China for properly putting into practice.
[Added: 2022/04/06]
NA 2022/12 Not Initiated
7. Recommendation:

Plan for and carry out a “reality check” re-thinking and adjustment phase before implementation begins. Recognizing that there may be a lapse of a year or more between project design and implementation, it would be advisable for the designers of future projects to specifically build in an inception phase that requires a critical review of project design at start-up, with substantive input from all project partners. During such a substantive inception phase, future projects would do well to:

  • Update the actual situation in participating countries against the context at the time the project document was written;
  • Assess the time and funding proposed for implementation against actual national capacity to deliver;
  • Revise project components and deliverables accordingly; and

Develop work plans on this basis.

Management Response: [Added: 2022/04/06]

Fully accept

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
7.1 PMO will take this into one of the major lessons and include it into the project closure report as lessons learnt for future reference by other project teams.
[Added: 2022/04/06] [Last Updated: 2022/08/26]
Division II, FECO 2022/08 Completed Confirmed by Programme Officers and PMOs on Aug 26 2022. History
8. Recommendation:

The Project has strong prospects for replication and upscaling, and there is an enabling environment for ABS made possible through clear signals within the updated China National Biodiversity Conservation Strategy and Action Plan on priority actions related to ABS, as well as through the Fourteenth Five-Year Plan. The Project therefore, should vigorously pursue a follow-up initiative. Regarding the design and programming of similar interventions in the future, the TE consultant team also recommends establishing the specific problem to be solved from the beginning, with a theory of change according to where the route is visualized from the inputs, activities, and products to the expected results or effects. Possible thematic areas for follow-up include:

•       Alignment and harmonization between international negotiation and implementation of domestic ABS issues;

•       Documenting issues arising from implementation of regulations and pursuing subsequent refinements and amendments;

•       Supporting and allocating sufficient time for R&D of genetic resources;

•       Greater inter- and intra-ministerial mainstreaming; and

•       Resolving potential conflicts among overlapping authorities over natural resources, as well as rights-holders of Traditional Knowledge;

•       Through pilots, greater exploration of domestic legal recognition and protection of genetic resource rights assigned to not only ethnic minorities, but also local communities of all ethnic groups.

Management Response: [Added: 2022/04/06]

Fully accept

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
8.1 Most of the core members of the legislative expert team of the National ABS regulation have participated in the ABS project in the past six years. They expressed that they are to consistently promote the National ABS regulation with the project legacies and exchange with relevant departments for enhanced coordination and further support
[Added: 2022/04/06] [Last Updated: 2022/06/28]
Division II, FECO 2022/06 Completed Per communications with our colleague, this key action has been completed. History
8.2 organize seminar to promote project result to be drawn on by experts from across sectors especially legislation
[Added: 2022/04/06] [Last Updated: 2022/05/30]
Division II, FECO 2022/05 Completed Per communications with our colleagues, this key action has been completed. History
9. Recommendation:

Strengthen cooperation among multiple ministries or departments to improve the integrity and consistency of ABS data and information, especially the cooperation with the Ministry of agriculture and rural affairs of China in future projects, so as to strengthen the support of existing agricultural research data for ABS basic research and database construction.

Management Response: [Added: 2022/04/06]

Fully accept

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
9.1 FECO is now involved in a NFGA initiated GEF-7 project on transformational wildlife conservation management in China
[Added: 2022/04/06]
Division II, FECO 2025/06 Initiated
9.2 FECO is currently executing a MARA administered GEF Partnership Program for Sustainable Agricultural Development
[Added: 2022/04/06]
Division II, FECO 2025/06 Initiated History
10. Recommendation:

Article 18 of the CBD and Article 23 of the Nagoya Protocol underscore the need for technical and scientific cooperation between Parties to the Convention and to the Protocol. Specifically, Article 23 of the NP encourages Parties to:

“…collaborate and cooperate in technical and scientific research and development programmes, including biotechnological research activities, as a means to achieve the objective of this Protocol. The Parties undertake to promote and encourage access to technology by, and transfer of technology to, developing country Parties, in particular the least developed countries and small island developing States among them, and Parties with economies in transition, in order to enable the development and strengthening of a sound and viable technological and scientific base for the attainment of the objectives of the Convention and this Protocol.

With this in mind and given the Project’s exemplary performance and achievements, it is encouraged that FECO and the core legislative expert team which has supported implementation should register as a “Provider” of technical assistance on the CBD’s Bio-Bridge Initiative platform in order to support requests from Parties that have a dearth in capacity and knowledge on ABS issues in general. China has a lot to offer and ought to take a leadership role globally based on the outcomes of the Project and what has been achieved in a short period of time.

Management Response: [Added: 2022/04/06]

Fully accept

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
10.1 make the recommendation to the responsible department of MEE
[Added: 2022/04/06] [Last Updated: 2022/04/26]
Division II, FECO 2022/04 Completed Per communications with our colleagues, this key action has been completed. History

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