Internal Review Report: UNDP-UNEP Poverty- Environment Initiative 2013-2017

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Evaluation Plan:
2014-2018, Bhutan
Evaluation Type:
Mid Term Project
Planned End Date:
12/2015
Completion Date:
12/2015
Status:
Completed
Management Response:
Yes
Evaluation Budget(US $):
25,000

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Title Internal Review Report: UNDP-UNEP Poverty- Environment Initiative 2013-2017
Atlas Project Number:
Evaluation Plan: 2014-2018, Bhutan
Evaluation Type: Mid Term Project
Status: Completed
Completion Date: 12/2015
Planned End Date: 12/2015
Management Response: Yes
Focus Area:
  • 1. Others
Corporate Outcome and Output (UNDP Strategic Plan 2014-2017)
  • 1. Output 1.1. National and sub-national systems and institutions enabled to achieve structural transformation of productive capacities that are sustainable and employment - and livelihoods- intensive
Evaluation Budget(US $): 25,000
Source of Funding: UNDP-UNEP
Joint Programme: No
Joint Evaluation: No
Evaluation Team members:
Name Title Email Nationality
GEF Evaluation: No
Key Stakeholders: Department of Local Governance/MOHCA and local governments
Countries: BHUTAN
Lessons
1.
  • UNDP-UNEP PEI’s technical and advisory support in mainstreaming initiative both from the CO staff and regional team have been critical in gaining confidence and support of the implementing partners. This is clearly evident from the joint programme involving a number of development partners in the earlier phase (2010-2013) and current phase (2014-2018). PEI’s value addition has been in hand holding the counterparts through dialogue and advisory support in achieving the programme results.
    • Establishing mainstreaming reference group (MRG) with representation from different sectors with leadership role of Gross National Happiness Commission has been the key success for institutionalizing P-E mainstreaming in Bhutan. PEI in partnership with other partners has provided the necessary capacity and tools to the MRG to champion the cause of mainstreaming in Bhutan. MRG is not anticipated to stay forever, but the sustainability of mainstreaming efforts has to be ensured in the 11th Plan through the ongoing initiative of LGSDP. Continued support in the 11th Plan will further strengthen mainstreaming efforts for the 12th FYP preparation process which is expected to start in 2016.

Drawing lessons from phase I, the set-up of MRG at the local level has been felt important given the increasing mandate of LGs with delegation of administrative and fiscal assignments from the central government. The lessons from the first five pilot dzongkhags in 2014 were positive and encouraging. The capacity building was facilitated by central MRG which in itself promoted transfer of knowledge and was cost effective. It demanded strong commitment from the central MRG.


Findings
1.

 There is a strong relationship between economy, environment and poverty in Bhutan – as the socio economic growth of the country is driven by sectors (such as hydropower, renewable natural resources and tourism) which are dependent on the environment, and that more than 69 percent of the population depend on natural resource based occupations for their livelihoods, 97 percent of the poor are rural based and dependent on natural resources for their livelihoods.

PEI’s approach to maximize both sustainable utilization and conservation of natural resources is particularly important for Bhutan as the country is encountering growing challenges of balancing development and livelihood opportunities against the need to conserve the environment. There are also constitutional and global commitments that Bhutan has committed to. There is a constitutional mandate to maintain 60 percent forest cover for all times; and Bhutan has committed to remain carbon neutral for all times. If we are to achieve these commitments, PE mainstreaming is an important approach to continue in Bhutan


Recommendations
1

To sustain mainstreaming effort in Bhutan, a multi-sectoral mainstreaming reference group (MRG) was created in 2011 at the national level coordinated by the Gross National Happiness Commission and National Environment Commission. The group was instrumental in reviewing public policies to provide cross-sectoral perspective, and influencing the Five-Year Planning and budgeting process which to an extent has resulted in guiding the overall objective of the 11th FYP. Drawing lessons from the central level mainstreaming work a similar structure has been set up at the sub-national level in 20 Dzongkhags. The local MRG will serve as an advisory group within the local governments to strengthen and facilitate mainstreaming of cross cutting issues in the LG development plans and programs. They will also play a critical role in the 12 FY planning process. Focus on sub-national level also promotes the decentralization agenda and devolution of authority to local level to ensure development gains are sustainable and inclusive.

The nature of the PEI program requires working across government at the central and sub-national level. As an enabling program it seeks to generate impact through policy, planning, implementation and budgeting to promote PE objectives. While the program has been successful in making an impact in mainstreaming ECP and cross cutting issues into policies and plans, strong links need to be established between upstream policy and downstream implementation. Capacity of local governments needs to be strengthened and activities need to be supported through the allocation of resources to address pro poor environment and natural resource management in a sustainable manner.

The central MRG has played a critical role in mainstreaming P-E in the policies, plans and budget. However, concerns on their sustainability remains an issue due to transfers and high staff turnover. Over the years the central MRG has lost key members and there have been challenges in finding suitable replacements. The PEI program will need to carry a review on the effectiveness of the MRG and identify recommendations to how this can be sustained through institutionalization or other mechanisms

 

Moving forward, SDG implementation has been identified as a priority for the country including: 1) means of implementing the SDGs (which shall include - planning, data, financing); 2) prioritizing and sequencing SDG interventions for Bhutan – by identifying interventions that will lead to maximum progress across as many goals and targets, such that the country can accelerate progress to meet the 2030 deadline for all SDGs.    

The Government has prioritized three Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs): SDG 1 (End poverty), SDG 13 (Combat Climate Change.) and SDG 15 (Protect ecosystems and Biodiversity). Accordingly, the PEI program along with other partners is supporting an integrated financing approach for SDG 1, 13 and 15. Primarily, an integrated approach will provide RGOB with a stronger investment case for advancing the poverty, biodiversity and climate agendas. This integrated review and financing exercise will need to address limitations of the previous PEER experiences and define climate expenditures agreeable to all stakeholders including combining with biodiversity financing and linking to poverty reduction financing needs.

1. Recommendation:

To sustain mainstreaming effort in Bhutan, a multi-sectoral mainstreaming reference group (MRG) was created in 2011 at the national level coordinated by the Gross National Happiness Commission and National Environment Commission. The group was instrumental in reviewing public policies to provide cross-sectoral perspective, and influencing the Five-Year Planning and budgeting process which to an extent has resulted in guiding the overall objective of the 11th FYP. Drawing lessons from the central level mainstreaming work a similar structure has been set up at the sub-national level in 20 Dzongkhags. The local MRG will serve as an advisory group within the local governments to strengthen and facilitate mainstreaming of cross cutting issues in the LG development plans and programs. They will also play a critical role in the 12 FY planning process. Focus on sub-national level also promotes the decentralization agenda and devolution of authority to local level to ensure development gains are sustainable and inclusive.

The nature of the PEI program requires working across government at the central and sub-national level. As an enabling program it seeks to generate impact through policy, planning, implementation and budgeting to promote PE objectives. While the program has been successful in making an impact in mainstreaming ECP and cross cutting issues into policies and plans, strong links need to be established between upstream policy and downstream implementation. Capacity of local governments needs to be strengthened and activities need to be supported through the allocation of resources to address pro poor environment and natural resource management in a sustainable manner.

The central MRG has played a critical role in mainstreaming P-E in the policies, plans and budget. However, concerns on their sustainability remains an issue due to transfers and high staff turnover. Over the years the central MRG has lost key members and there have been challenges in finding suitable replacements. The PEI program will need to carry a review on the effectiveness of the MRG and identify recommendations to how this can be sustained through institutionalization or other mechanisms

 

Moving forward, SDG implementation has been identified as a priority for the country including: 1) means of implementing the SDGs (which shall include - planning, data, financing); 2) prioritizing and sequencing SDG interventions for Bhutan – by identifying interventions that will lead to maximum progress across as many goals and targets, such that the country can accelerate progress to meet the 2030 deadline for all SDGs.    

The Government has prioritized three Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs): SDG 1 (End poverty), SDG 13 (Combat Climate Change.) and SDG 15 (Protect ecosystems and Biodiversity). Accordingly, the PEI program along with other partners is supporting an integrated financing approach for SDG 1, 13 and 15. Primarily, an integrated approach will provide RGOB with a stronger investment case for advancing the poverty, biodiversity and climate agendas. This integrated review and financing exercise will need to address limitations of the previous PEER experiences and define climate expenditures agreeable to all stakeholders including combining with biodiversity financing and linking to poverty reduction financing needs.

Management Response: [Added: 2017/01/09]

The current phase/programme is well on track to achieve the targets set out in the results framework by 2017/18. In terms of the sustainability of PEI’s investment beyond 2017, this to some extent has been built into the current programme logic through:

  • The set-up of local level mainstreaming reference group (MRG) in all the 20 dzongkhags by 2016. MRG at the local level will play a critical role in integrating PE issues while formulating the 12th FYP by the LGs.
  • Enabling policy for PE issues in Bhutan has been well articulated through the 11th FYP by aligning with the four pillars of GNH development philosophy which is further translated into 16 national key result areas. The monitoring of NKRAs and KPIs are already tagged to ministries, sectors and LGs annual performance agreement with the Prime Minister’s Office through the government performance management system (GPMS) which started in 2014 [http://www.gpms.gov.bt]. 
  • EU’s support will extend beyond the current plan and cover two fiscal years of the 12th FYP i.e. 2018/19 and 2019/20, which will further ensure that LG’s 12th FYP programmes are aligned to achieving LGSDP’s objective and take onboard emerging PE issues.
  • GECDP mainstreaming concepts and tools have already been integrated into the curriculum of two tertiary institutes: Sherubtse College, and College of Science and Technology. This will have long term impact on sustaining mainstreaming efforts in the country.
  • In terms of institutionalizing GECDP mainstreaming at the national level - it has already identified and committed champions through the Gross National Happiness Commission – as the coordinating agency for planning and policy process in Bhutan. Some level of challenge exists in mainstreaming PE issues into the budgeting process, but this should largely be addressed through the integrated approach of planning and budgeting process in the country.

UNDP CO has prioritized PE nexus as an important area of work in its current UNDAF i.e Bhutan One Programme (2014-2018) and closely works with the government to mobilize resources through various funding windows. The government has identified UNDP as: 1) the implementing agency for GEF-LDCF project which will focus on “Enhancing sustainability and climate resilience of forest and agriculture landscape and community livelihoods” for US$ 15.224 million for 6 years from 2017; and 2) Implementing Entity to develop a project proposal for Green Climate Fund focusing on “Enhancing climate resilient agriculture and food security in Bhutan” for 6 years.  

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