UNDP/GEF project "Mainstreaming Biodiversity Conservation into Territorial Policies and Practices" final evaluation

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Evaluation Plan:
2011-2015, Belarus
Evaluation Type:
Final Project
Planned End Date:
12/2013
Completion Date:
12/2013
Status:
Completed
Management Response:
Yes
Evaluation Budget(US $):
32,000

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Title UNDP/GEF project "Mainstreaming Biodiversity Conservation into Territorial Policies and Practices" final evaluation
Atlas Project Number: 00072384
Evaluation Plan: 2011-2015, Belarus
Evaluation Type: Final Project
Status: Completed
Completion Date: 12/2013
Planned End Date: 12/2013
Management Response: Yes
Focus Area:
  • 1. Environment & Sustainable Development
Corporate Outcome and Output (UNDP Strategic Plan 2014-2017)
  • 1. Development plans and programmes integrate environmentally sustainable solutions in a manner that promotes poverty reduction, MDG achievement and low-emission climate-resilient development
  • 2. National and local governments and communities have the capacities to adapt to climate change and make inclusive and sustainable environment & energy decisions benefitting in particular under-served populations
Evaluation Budget(US $): 32,000
Source of Funding: GEF
Joint Programme: No
Joint Evaluation: No
Evaluation Team members:
Name Title Email Nationality
Stuart Williams
GEF Evaluation: Yes
Evaluation Type:
Focal Area: Biodiversity
Project Type: MSP
GEF Phase: GEF-4
PIMS Number: 3985
Key Stakeholders: Ministry of Environment
Countries: BELARUS, REPUBLIC OF
Lessons
Findings
Recommendations
1 Complete the small tasks before project closure.
2 Training for project staff
3 Support for projects from UNDP-CO Support Staff. Somewhat linked with the above recommendation and while there is ample support from the Energy and Environment section within the UNDP-CO, the administrative support staff within the UNDP-CO office can, on occasion be less than cooperative if not downright condescending with the project teams.
4 Replication and sustainability. This project faces the same issues that many ?enabling? projects face. They work to put an enabling environment in place ? through the development and approval of legislation, policies and regulations ? and build capacity among target groups. On occasion, the projects will attempt to take this one step further and start processes of replication and implementation. However, none of this guarantees that replication will happen or that there will be sustainability of the processes put in place or even of the impacts that the project may have had.
5 Explore and diversify the GEF projects undertaken in Belarus, and the UNDP-CO?s roles and responsibilities. While doubtless the projects in Belarus that have been undertaken to date (both completed and ongoing) have their merits, there appears to be an overwhelming focus on wetlands (and peatlands in particular) and avifauna. In partnership with the Government of Belarus and institutions such as the National Academy of Sciences, the UNDP-CO should explore the possibility to diversity the biodiversity projects that are developed and, thereafter, implemented in the country.
6 Flexibility in GEF projects. By definition, GEF works with developing countries and there is no doubt that the capacities among those countries range dramatically. However, as we move towards the end the second decade of the GEF, surely there are some patterns emerging of those countries that perform consistently well in both their expenditure as well as project implementation. The GEF may consider allowing a greater degree of decentralisation (say, to regional implementation agency offices) and even a greater degree of managerial flexibility at the project manager level. Thus, once the project framework is agree and endorsed, project managers, UNDP-COs and regional technical centres may have greater flexibility with budget lines or have unassigned funds in their budget to focus greater efforts on those aspects of the projects that are working. Such flexibility would act as incentives to countries to improve their performance and would, ultimately, have greater environmental benefits. Finally, the auditing, and monitoring and evaluation processes ? such as these Terminal Evaluations ? would have to remain vigilant to how this flexibility was functioning, both in terms of global environmental benefits but also how the flexible funds were being used or were used.
7 Role of SGP. A second general observation that emerged during the current Terminal Evaluation was the role that the GEF Small Grants Program (SGP) plays. As is stated above and elsewhere, civil society in Belarus is weak both relative to the omnipotence of the government but also relative to many other countries around the world. The APB is therefore a rarity in Belarus. It has been a partner to a number of UNDP-GEF projects and has, in the past, been the recipient of a number of SGP grants. However, it has now reached the critical mass such that a grant from the SGP is of less interest because of the administrative burden it puts on the organization; and, yet, in principle, the APB is the sort of civil society organization that the GEF should be supporting. Thus, the rather unique circumstances presented by Belarus demands a slightly different approach to that taken in other countries. In summary, therefore, a blanket approach for the SGP across all countries may not be useful and a deeper analysis of the support that it provides to civil society, particularly in countries such as Belarus, may be warranted.
1. Recommendation: Complete the small tasks before project closure.
Management Response: [Added: 2014/05/12]

All the project tasks were completed

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
All tasks are completed
[Added: 2014/05/12]
2014/05 Completed
2. Recommendation: Training for project staff
Management Response: [Added: 2014/05/12]

Agree. Special training course was developed by UNDP for new key project staff, including Project Manager and Financial and Administrative Assistance and introduced into the routine CO practice.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
Develop a special training course was developed by UNDP for new key project staff, including Project Manager and Financial and Administrative Assistance and introduced into the routine CO practice
[Added: 2014/05/12]
UNDP CO 2014/05 Completed
3. Recommendation: Support for projects from UNDP-CO Support Staff. Somewhat linked with the above recommendation and while there is ample support from the Energy and Environment section within the UNDP-CO, the administrative support staff within the UNDP-CO office can, on occasion be less than cooperative if not downright condescending with the project teams.
Management Response: [Added: 2014/05/12]

The issue should be brought to the CO Management. Respective issues should be identified, discussed and steps taken to improve cooperation between the CO and projects.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
Inform the CO management of the problems
[Added: 2014/05/12]
UNDP CO 2014/05 Completed
Arrange a working meeting with CO and project staff to discuss the problems and define measures to improve the situation.
[Added: 2014/05/12]
UNDP CO 2014/05 Completed
4. Recommendation: Replication and sustainability. This project faces the same issues that many ?enabling? projects face. They work to put an enabling environment in place ? through the development and approval of legislation, policies and regulations ? and build capacity among target groups. On occasion, the projects will attempt to take this one step further and start processes of replication and implementation. However, none of this guarantees that replication will happen or that there will be sustainability of the processes put in place or even of the impacts that the project may have had.
Management Response: [Added: 2014/05/12]

Replication and sustainability of projects? successful experience and results is always the issue. The CO and the PMU made every effort to create enabling environment for integration of biodiversity concerns into national land use planning, including the development of the respective legal and regulatory basis and nation-wide information campaign. At the project design stage it was ensured that the project responded to the respective country priorities. However, additional follow-up measure should be taken to ensure replication of project successful experience and sustainability of the project results.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
Arrange a meeting with the key national stakeholders to discuss and identify measures to ensure replication and sustainability.
[Added: 2014/05/12] [Last Updated: 2016/05/20]
UNDP CO 2014/12 Completed History
Exercise efforts to distribute the project results outside Belarus.
[Added: 2014/05/12] [Last Updated: 2016/05/20]
UNDP CO 2014/12 Completed History
5. Recommendation: Explore and diversify the GEF projects undertaken in Belarus, and the UNDP-CO?s roles and responsibilities. While doubtless the projects in Belarus that have been undertaken to date (both completed and ongoing) have their merits, there appears to be an overwhelming focus on wetlands (and peatlands in particular) and avifauna. In partnership with the Government of Belarus and institutions such as the National Academy of Sciences, the UNDP-CO should explore the possibility to diversity the biodiversity projects that are developed and, thereafter, implemented in the country.
Management Response: [Added: 2014/05/12]

Agree. While wetlands are of importance for global and national biodiversity, other ecosystems should be given their faire share in terms of conservation efforts and respective TA from international organizations. However, a limited capacity and a small pool of expertise in the biodiversity field impede development of projects targeting other ecosystems. Consultations should be held with the ministry of environment, Belarusian scientific institutions and key experts to discuss this issue. Project ideas should be prioritized favoring other ecosystems when it is feasible and reasonable from the environmental point of view.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
Discuss this issue with national counterparts.
[Added: 2014/05/12]
UNDP 2014/05 Completed
Prioritize project ideas favoring other ecosystems when it is feasible and reasonable from the environmental point of view
[Added: 2014/05/12] [Last Updated: 2016/05/20]
UNDP No due date Completed Throughout UNDP CO operation History
6. Recommendation: Flexibility in GEF projects. By definition, GEF works with developing countries and there is no doubt that the capacities among those countries range dramatically. However, as we move towards the end the second decade of the GEF, surely there are some patterns emerging of those countries that perform consistently well in both their expenditure as well as project implementation. The GEF may consider allowing a greater degree of decentralisation (say, to regional implementation agency offices) and even a greater degree of managerial flexibility at the project manager level. Thus, once the project framework is agree and endorsed, project managers, UNDP-COs and regional technical centres may have greater flexibility with budget lines or have unassigned funds in their budget to focus greater efforts on those aspects of the projects that are working. Such flexibility would act as incentives to countries to improve their performance and would, ultimately, have greater environmental benefits. Finally, the auditing, and monitoring and evaluation processes ? such as these Terminal Evaluations ? would have to remain vigilant to how this flexibility was functioning, both in terms of global environmental benefits but also how the flexible funds were being used or were used.
Management Response: [Added: 2014/05/12]

Fully agree, Such flexibility would allow better response to changing situations and would lead to better use of limited allocated resources.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
Bring this issue to and discuss with the BRC.
[Added: 2014/05/12] [Last Updated: 2016/05/20]
UNDP CO 2014/12 Completed History
7. Recommendation: Role of SGP. A second general observation that emerged during the current Terminal Evaluation was the role that the GEF Small Grants Program (SGP) plays. As is stated above and elsewhere, civil society in Belarus is weak both relative to the omnipotence of the government but also relative to many other countries around the world. The APB is therefore a rarity in Belarus. It has been a partner to a number of UNDP-GEF projects and has, in the past, been the recipient of a number of SGP grants. However, it has now reached the critical mass such that a grant from the SGP is of less interest because of the administrative burden it puts on the organization; and, yet, in principle, the APB is the sort of civil society organization that the GEF should be supporting. Thus, the rather unique circumstances presented by Belarus demands a slightly different approach to that taken in other countries. In summary, therefore, a blanket approach for the SGP across all countries may not be useful and a deeper analysis of the support that it provides to civil society, particularly in countries such as Belarus, may be warranted.
Management Response: [Added: 2014/05/12]

Agree. A discussion should be held with national counterparts, including environmental authorities, NGOs and SGP to discuss the situation and identify possible solutions. However, it should be noted that strengthening the Belarusian civil societies and professional maturing national environmental NOG is a lengthy process and cannot happen within a couple of years. Nevertheless, UNDP should acknowledge the problem and work towards improving NGOs capacity.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
Arrange a meeting with the key stakeholders, including environmental authorities, NGOs and SGP to discuss the situation and identify possible solutions.
[Added: 2014/05/12] [Last Updated: 2016/05/20]
UNDP CO 2014/12 Completed History
Within projects plan actions to strengthen the capacity of Belarusian civil society organizations.
[Added: 2014/05/12] [Last Updated: 2016/05/20]
UNDP CO No due date Completed Throughout UNDP CO operation History

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