Joint Evaluation of the Small Grants Programme by GEF/UNDP

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Evaluation Plan:
2014-2017, Independent Evaluation Office
Evaluation Type:
Thematic
Planned End Date:
06/2015
Completion Date:
09/2015
Status:
Completed
Management Response:
Yes
Evaluation Budget(US $):
250,000

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Title Joint Evaluation of the Small Grants Programme by GEF/UNDP
Atlas Project Number:
Evaluation Plan: 2014-2017, Independent Evaluation Office
Evaluation Type: Thematic
Status: Completed
Completion Date: 09/2015
Planned End Date: 06/2015
Management Response: Yes
Focus Area:
  • 1. Others
Corporate Outcome and Output (UNDP Strategic Plan 2018-2021)
  • 1. Output 1.3. Solutions developed at national and sub-national levels for sustainable management of natural resources, ecosystem services, chemicals and waste
Evaluation Budget(US $): 250,000
Source of Funding:
Joint Programme: No
Joint Evaluation: Yes
  • Joint with UN Agencies
  • Joint with GEF
Evaluation Team members:
Name Title Nationality
Heather Bryant UNDP Evaluation Specialist
Carlo Carugi GEF Senior Evaluation Officer
Dennis Fenton Lead Consultant
GEF Evaluation: No
Key Stakeholders:
Lessons
Findings
1.

2 SGP: CURRENT ROLE AND RESULTS 

This chapter briefly presents the SGP’s current role and then goes on to assess its contributions to global environmental results. The chapter next looks at SGP results in terms of livelihood support to communities and promoting gender equality and women’s empowerment. 

2.1 SGP ROLE

The SGP was originally set up as a program to support local initiatives dealing with the environment and development issues of global relevance. The number of countries participating in the program at its start-up in 1992 was 33; by 2007, this number had grown to 84. Until 2007, all SGP country programs were financed through SGP core funds. Previous evaluations of the SGP have indicated positive results. Notably, an evaluation of the SGP undertaken by the independent evaluation offices of the GEF and UNDP—the 2008 joint evaluation (GEF EO and UNDP EO 2008)—concluded that the SGP was highly effective in generating global environmental benefits through the combined effect of multiple small-scale interventions.

The SGP was not initially designed to be permanent, and there were sunset provisions established for the duration of each country program. The intent was to graduate country programs after a period of time, in order to create budget space for new countries as well as to encourage partner governments to take greater initiative on their own to support the environmental protection efforts of local government and civil society organizations (CSOs).1 Conclusions and recommendations of the 2008 joint evaluationand of the GEF Fourth Overall Performance Study (OPS4; GEF EO 2010) stimulated debate around the future of the SGP among GEF Council members and other stakeholders, culminating in major changes to the program. As set out in the Council decision on the joint evaluation (contained in GEF EO 2007a) and several subsequent policy documents, the SGP became a permanent modality of the GEF, and the concept of graduation was further defined in an upgrading policy.

This upgrading policy included several important funding and operational changes. First, references to sunset provisions for country programs were curtailed. Second, an upgraded country program was to be treated as a GEF full-size project (FSP) (albeit expedited) and funded through the general GEF program budget—for example, using the Resource Allocation Framework (RAF) during GEF-4 (2006–10), and then the STAR in GEF-5 (2010–14). In addition, the non-upgraded country programs still managed by the CPMT could utilize a mix of SGP core funds and funding from country RAF/STAR allocations. Finally, financial limits were placed on all SGP country programs to avoid squeezing out other GEF priorities. A more complete discussion of upgrading is included in chapter 4 of this report.

Prior to 2008, various decisions from the GEF Council requested an increase in the number of countries participating in the SGP. As a modality under the GEF, all GEF countries should, in principal, be able to choose to participate in the SGP. The 2008 joint evaluation notes a “request from the GEF Secretariat to quickly expand the program to 23 additional countries” (GEF EO and UNDP EO 2008, 14). As a result, the number of countries participating in the SGP has increased considerably since 2008 (table 2.1). Most of this increase took place from 2008 to 2010.  

Importantly, the new countries include a high proportion of small island developing states (SIDS), least developed countries (LDCs), and countries in fragile or conflict-affected situations—places in which it is generally considered more difficult to establish SGP programs. The proportion of such countries is much higher among countries beginning to participate in the SGP after mid-2007 (table 2.2).

Finding 1 -

2.2 RESULTS: GLOBAL ENVIRONMENTAL BENEFITS

The SGP’s overall objective for OP5 is to secure global environmental benefits through community-based initiatives and actions. Specific objectives and targets for achieving global environmental benefits were identified for OP4 and OP5 that conform to the overall GEF-4 and GEF-5 strategic priorities for each GEF focal area. This section assesses the extent to which the SGP’s results during the period 2008–14 are commensurate with these objectives.


Tag: Climate Change Adaptation Climate change governance Biodiversity Natural Resouce management Impact Relevance Sustainability Global Environment Facility fund Local Governance Integration Risk Management Capacity Building Jobs and Livelihoods

2.

Finding 2- 

2.3 RESULTS: POVERTY AND LIVELIHOODS 

According to the mission statement on the SGP website, the SGP seeks to embody the very essence of sustainable development by “thinking globally acting locally.” As described in chapter 1, the program aims to do this by providing financial and technical support to projects that conserve and restore the environment while enhancing people’s well-being and livelihoods. The SGP “has three ‘pillars’ in its comprehensive approach to sustainable human development: environmental protection, poverty reduction and community empowerment.”

 


Tag: Vulnerable Environment Policy Green Climate Global Environment Facility fund Gender Equality Women's Empowerment Local Governance Security Inclusive economic growth Indigenous people Jobs and Livelihoods Micro-credit Poverty Reduction Technical Support

3.

Finding 3 - 

2.4 RESULTS: GENDER EQUALITY AND WOMEN’S EMPOWERMENT 

According to its Roadmap for Gender Equality, the GEF “has a long history of investing in local actions geared toward social inclusion to achieve global environmental objectives. Mainstreaming gender through GEF programmes and projects presents opportunities for enhancing project value as well as advancing gender equality and women’s empowerment” (GEF, n.d., 3). UNDP policy also is to mainstream gender equality and women’s empowerment across its operations, “not only as human rights, but also because they are a pathway to achieving the Millennium Development Goals and sustainable development.” The 2008 joint evaluation highlighted the participation of women in the SGP; however, there has otherwise not been an independent analysis of SGP work related to gender. This evaluation seeks to answer the question, to what extent does the SGP contribute to gender equality and women’s empowerment?


Tag: Agriculture Fishery Drinking water supply Energy Water resources Gender Equality Gender Mainstreaming Women's Empowerment Human rights Local Governance Knowledge management MDGs Policies & Procedures Programme/Project Design Operational Services

4.

3. BROADER ADOPTION IN THE SGP

Chapter 2 assessed the outcomes of individual SGP grants in terms of both environmental benefits and other important socioeconomic and human rights objectives. As outlined in the GEF theory of change framework, broader adoption of the outcomes achieved by GEF projects (e.g., through GEF support to strategies, techniques, technologies, approaches, knowledge management, and institutional capacity) is critical if the GEF is to achieve long-term global environmental benefits. Due to its very nature as a small grants modality and to the local scale of its operations, the SGP cannot be held accountable for achieving global environmental benefits through broader adoption of grant-level results. Nonetheless, the SGP is expected to aim for effectiveness that goes beyond the individual grant level, and the CPMT is doing its best to respond to those expectations, as detailed below.

This chapter reviews the broader adoption of SGP outcomes at the local scale and above, and explores the factors contributing to broader adoption. As this is the first assessment of broader adoption in the SGP, the aim is not to provide evaluative judgments, but rather to provide a fuller understanding of whether and how broader adoption takes place and the mechanisms being used for broader adoption; and to consider where and how change is taking place and under what conditions. The objective is to provide evidence to support further discussions and clarification of expectations in this area, and to offer insights for future policy formulation. 

Finding 4 - 

3.1 BROADER ADOPTION IN THE SGP UPGRADING POLICY AND OTHER OFFICIAL DOCUMENTS

Five transformational processes have been found to lead to broader adoption in the GEF; these are sustaining, mainstreaming, replication, scaling-up, and market change. Sustainability has a long-established history (both conceptually and in terms of data gathering) and can be quantitatively assessed for the SGP. Sustainability at the local scale (i.e., at the individual project level) was assessed in this evaluation, and discussed in chapter 2.


Tag: Sustainability Global Environment Facility fund Human rights Monitoring and Evaluation Policies & Procedures Results-Based Management Sustainability Theory of Change Civil Societies and NGOs Inclusive economic growth

5.

Finding 5 - 

3.2 INITIAL FINDINGS ON BROADER ADOPTION IN THE SGP

The GEF Independent Evaluation Office only recently introduced the concept of broader adoption that is now beginning to be adopted within the GEF as a whole. Consequently, indicators and baselines are lacking, making it difficult to generate quantitative descriptions of the extent of mainstreaming, replication, and scaling-up of SGP projects. Most evidence is secondary, perception based, or anecdotal. Initial findings suggest that much has been achieved in terms of broader adoption. First of all, survey respondents from 114 countries (92 percent of all countries represented) were aware of examples in their country of the SGP achieving some form of broader adoption. When asked to rate achievements in their country with regard to mainstreaming, replication, scaling-up, and market change on a scale from 1 (no achievements at all) to 6 (excellent achievements), respondents judged achievements to be moderate to good, with average response ratings between 4 and 5 (table 3.1). It is also worth noting that the achievements for replication were rated highest and those for market change lowest.


Tag: Natural Resouce management Sustainability Global Environment Facility fund Innovation Integration Technology

6.

Finding 6 - 

3.3 FACTORS INFLUENCING BROADER ADOPTION IN THE SGP

The evaluation explored factors that promote or limit broader adoption. Survey respondents identified several factors that hinder broader adoption and a range of factors that contribute to broader adoption (figure 3.1).


Tag: Global Environment Facility fund Country Government

7.

SGP’S STRATEGIC POSITIONING

Chapters 2 and 3 assessed the SGP’s current role and results. This chapter explores the strategic fit of the SGP within the GEF and UNDP, both substantively and institutionally. As described in chapter 2, the SGP was not initially designed as a permanent program, and there were sunset provisions established for the duration of each country program. The intent was to graduate country programs after some time to free up resources for other countries to join the program. Conclusions and recommendations of the 2008 joint evaluation and OPS4 stimulated debate around the future of the SGP, resulting in the introduction of the SGP upgrading policy. Unsurprisingly, the introduction of this major policy change was not without problems. Given the critical nature of the SGP upgrading policy, this chapter first details its historical background, its implementation, and the lessons learned. The chapter then describes the diverse expectations placed on the current SGP and implications for the future. It ends with an assessment of the SGP governance structure—looking at whether and how it has adapted to the challenges, opportunities, and future.

Finding 7 - 

4.1 BACKGROUND AND CURRENT STATUS OF THE SGP UPGRADING POLICY

Funding limits placed on the SGP in GEF-4 necessitated the introduction of a graduation policy. In 2006, a policy was put in place that “beginning 2007, any country which has benefited from the GEF SGP for more than 8 years will be required to present a plan to graduate from GEF funding on completion of the GEF-4 cycle” (GEF EO 2007b, para. 76). This policy would have led to the graduation of more than 40 country programs—meaning that those country programs would no longer be eligible for any GEF SGP core funds and would stop participating in the overall global SGP process. Further, the amount each country could access from SGP core funds was capped in accordance with a complex formula based on country categories. In order to achieve overall economies of scale at the country level, SGP country programs were expected to access RAF resources to complement SGP core funds.


Tag: Efficiency Global Environment Facility fund Communication Knowledge management Operational Efficiency Policies & Procedures Risk Management Strategic Positioning Country Government Capacity Building

8.

Finding 8-

4.2 STRENGTHS AND WEAKNESSES OF THE UPGRADING POLICY

The measures taken to implement the upgrading policy have had a series of direct and indirect consequences, which have in turn affected overall SGP effectiveness and efficiency in both positive and negative ways. The net effects vary between the upgraded, the pure STAR, and the mixed STARcore countries. Table 4.1 maps out the consequences for the three categories of countries based on interviews; meta-analysis of previous evaluations; country studies; the SGP database; the 2008 evaluation report; and information provided by UNDP, the GEF, and the CPMT.


Tag: Global Environment Facility fund Policies & Procedures

9.

Finding 9 - 

4.3 STAKEHOLDER UNDERSTANDING AND ACCEPTANCE OF UPGRADING

At the central level, most interviewed stakeholders were broadly in favor of upgrading, recognizing the need for the evolution of SGP country programs and the need to ensure funds are distributed across GEF countries. However, UNDP and CPMT stakeholders also noted how delays and implementation issues had undermined the process with the first group of upgrading countries.


Tag: Efficiency Global Environment Facility fund Policies & Procedures UN Country Team

10.

Finding 10 - 

4.4 CRITERIA FOR UPGRADING

The upgrading policy can be interpreted as the only policy document containing elements that describe how SGP country programs are expected to evolve in the long term. In this framework, the choice of the criteria for selecting which countries are eligible to upgrade is crucial. As per current policy, countries are selected for upgrading based on two criteria: program age and program size in terms of cumulative grants. In GEF-6, two additional criteria will be introduced: “1) the country’s STAR envelope i.e., if a country’s STAR allocation is below USD 10.0 million, it would not be subjected to upgrading, and 2) government willingness to support a country programme with a civil society raison d’être requiring renewed written government commitment to follow the SGP Operational Guidelines” (GEF 2014b, 14). 


Tag: Global Environment Facility fund Partnership Policies & Procedures Results-Based Management Civil Societies and NGOs Country Government

11.

Finding 11 - 

4.5 EXPECTATIONS AND VISION FOR THE SGP

The upgrading policy introduced new expectations for country programs and their evolution. This section reviews other expectations of the SGP, beginning with a discussion of the priorities and policies that guide the program, and concluding with a description of the dynamic context in which the SGP has been operating since 2008, all of which factors have implications for the SGP long-term vision and clarity of purpose.


Tag: Climate Change Adaptation Climate change governance Vulnerable Biodiversity Green Economy Global Environment Facility fund Gender Equality Women's Empowerment Local Governance Knowledge management MDGs Partnership Policies & Procedures Results-Based Management Civil Societies and NGOs Capacity Building Inclusive economic growth Jobs and Livelihoods Poverty Reduction Youth

12.

Finding 12 - 

4.6 SGP GOVERNANCE STRUCTURE

This section reviews the governance structure of the SGP, in light of the above-described challenges and opportunities facing the program.

The SGP is implemented by UNDP, and executed by UNOPS. Within UNDP, the SGP is a “project”; operationally and legally, the CPMT is a project management unit. Yet, the scale and complexity of the SGP resemble that of a small United Nations agency or program. Until 2007, the CPMT played a role in all aspects of country program development and implementation, even though its ability to do so was constrained by the program’s growing complexity and scale. The 2008 joint evaluation concluded that “The current management model of the SGP has reached its limits and is not suitable for a new phase of growth” (GEF EO and UNDP EO 2008, 14). Accordingly, the Council decision made on the basis of the joint evaluation called for “a process to make the SGP central management system suitable for the new phase of growth and address the risks of growing complexity needs to begin.” 


Tag: Effectiveness Global Environment Facility fund Integration Monitoring and Evaluation Operational Efficiency Partnership Policies & Procedures Project and Programme management Risk Management Civil Societies and NGOs UNDP Management Operational Services Technical Support

13.

5 SGP EFFICIENCY

This chapter reports on the extent to which the SGP has been efficiently implemented. It reviews several factors related to overall program efficiency: timing of the program cycle, funding delivery rates, program management costs, and levels and types of cofinancing. Where possible, upgraded country programs are considered separately from and compared to non-upgraded country programs. The chapter ends with a discussion of M&E. The efficiency of the SGP on the ground was assessed for 144 sampled grants in 11 countries. The overall finding was that nearly 80 percent of the sampled grants were judged to be in the satisfactory range in terms of time, costs, and other efficiency aspects. 

Finding 13 - 

5.1 TIMING OF THE PROGRAM CYCLE

A key efficiency aspect for the SGP is the time required to develop a project document, obtain approval, begin implementation, and begin disbursing grants. For the global program in OP5, the overall process involving SGP core funds took approximately 10 months—which is very fast by GEF standards. However, the time taken for STAR funds was much longer. These funds were approved in two packages. The process from development to disbursal for the first package, which went to those countries entirely funded by STAR funds, took approximately 19 months. For the second package, delivered to country programs funded by a mixture of STAR and core funds, the overall time required was approximately 33 months, with CEO endorsement received in May 2013 (figure 5.1). 


Tag: Efficiency Global Environment Facility fund Implementation Modality Operational Efficiency Programme/Project Design

14.

Finding 14 - 

5.2 DELIVERY RATES OF GEF FUNDING

Another aspect of global program-level efficiency is delivery. The overall rate of delivery of GEF funding under OP3 and OP4 was high, at 98 percent and 92 percent, respectively. As of June 30, 2014, delivery under OP5 was 55 percent for the non-upgraded countries and 66 percent for the six UNOPS-executed upgraded countries (table 5.1). However it will only be meaningful to assess delivery for OP5 at the end of the operational phase.


Tag: Efficiency Operational Efficiency Policies & Procedures

15.

Finding 15 -

5.3 PROGRAM MANAGEMENT COSTS

Another aspect of efficiency is the proportion of total funds that are required to cover non-grant activities such as program management and program support. A technical assessment of management costs undertaken as part of the 2008 joint evaluation concluded that: 

Preliminary data suggests that the SGP is in the upper middle range of programmes for which data could be reliably gathered. However, compared to other programmes the SGP provides more services for these costs. Thus, the management costs incurred by the SGP seem to match well with the services that it provides. (GEF EO 2007c, 1) Since the Council decision on the SGP taken on the basis of the joint evaluation and through OP5, the percentage of total expenditure on non-grant activities (management costs) has remained fairly flat as compared with the 2008 joint evaluation findings.  


Tag: Efficiency Operational Efficiency Project and Programme management Service delivery

16.

Finding 16 - 

5.4 COFINANCING

From OP3 through OP5, both GEF allocations to the SGP and total SGP cofinancing have increased (table 5.2). Proportionally, however, the total GEF allocation has increased more than has cofinancing, resulting in a decline in the ratio of cofinancing to GEF funding. Every $1 of GEF funding was matched by $1.26 in cofinancing in OP3, by $1.05 in OP4, and—as of June 30, 2014—by $0.80 in OP5. As OP5 is ongoing, this ratio may increase by the end of the phase, as new projects with project-level cofinancing are initiated.


Tag: Efficiency Global Environment Facility fund Resource mobilization

17.

Finding 17 - 

5.5 MONITORING AND EVALUATION

The 2008 joint evaluation concluded that “although monitoring and evaluation has improved significantly, there is scope for further improvements” (GEF EO and UNDP EO 2008, 11). The subsequent Council decision therefore reiterated that “monitoring and evaluation needs to be strengthened further,” and the GEF outlined a series of specific measures to be taken at both the country and global levels (GEF 2008). 


Tag: Environment Policy Global Environment Facility fund Human and Financial resources Monitoring and Evaluation Results-Based Management Jobs and Livelihoods Poverty Reduction Data and Statistics

Recommendations
1

To the GEF

Recommendation 1. Revitalize the SGP Steering Committee to support high-level strategic thinking in developing a long-term vision for the SGP, to foster dialogue between UNDP and the GEF, and to advise the Council as appropriate on strategic decision making.

The SGP has continued to be a relevant, effective, and efficient program; however, in some areas there is a lack of clarity as to program expectations and its long-term evolution. A revitalized global Steering Committee—which could include the GEF Secretariat, UNDP, UNOPS, a representative from the GEF NGO Network, and/or other members as appropriate—would provide a forum for clarification of the SGP’s long-term vision, future approaches to upgrading (including upgrading criteria), articulation of the role of broader adoption in the SGP, the balance between global environmental benefits and socioeconomic objectives, and other issues that might arise. The revived committee could assist in articulating the GEF corporate nature of the SGP, clarifying the role and responsibilities of UNDP as a GEF Agency implementing a GEF corporate program, and developing a strategy to optimize UNDP’s value added. Where policy decisions are required, the Steering Committee would provide advisory services to the GEF Council. At the final stakeholder consultation workshop on the draft evaluation, the evaluation team was informed that discussions are ongoing on draft terms of reference for a revitalized Steering Committee, following the recommendation in the OPS5 final report, which in turn was informed by the first phase report of this joint evaluation. 

Some of these issues could be discussed in a wider forum as well—for example, in an international workshop bringing in SGP decision makers and implementers, as well as other stakeholders and partners from selected program countries. The proceedings of such a high-level forum could then be shared with the GEF Council for consideration.

2

To the GEF and UNDP

Recommendation 2. Continue upgrading, building on strengths while addressing the weaknesses identified. The criteria for selecting countries for upgrading should be revisited.

Upgrading should be seen as a continual process, in which country programs mature; acquire capacity; and evolve in terms of their partnerships, cofinancing, and degree of mainstreaming; and eventually reach an upgraded status. Consolidation of the process should be sufficiently flexible to match the conditions prevailing in all participating countries, while maintaining an incentive to each and every country program to evolve. The criteria for upgrading should be revisited, and recommendations for revisions submitted to the GEF Council. This revision should be informed by the SGP Steering Committee and/or the proceedings from the international conference mentioned in Recommendation 1.

The FSP modality for upgraded countries should be modified to maximize the positive and minimize the negative effects. This modification could include the use of innovative procedures that: - allow FSPs to follow the “annual rolling modality” of the SGP rather than being limited to fixed timeframes; - ensure that civil society continues to be at the wheel of the SGP—even when it is no longer alone in the driver’s seat; - allow groups of upgrading countries to implement their SGP country programs through a single, multicountry FSP, as was done for STAR 1 and STAR 2 non-upgraded countries; and - allow the most mature countries with small STAR allocations to be able to upgrade but still use SGP core funds, hopefully leading to a combination of the characteristics and benefits of the FSP modality with the use of SGP core funds.  

Although all countries should be able to adopt the upgraded status, upgrading should be voluntary for LDCs and SIDS. 

For non-upgraded countries, the process for accessing STAR funds through a global project should be modified so as to minimize delays and uncertainties, as well as to lessen the current competition for GEF funding among stakeholders at the country level.

3

To UNDP 

Recommendation 3. Ensure that the SGP is implemented under a single, coherent global program framework.

All SGP country programs, whether upgraded or not, should be implemented under a single, coherent global program framework. As country programs mature from being purely funded by core funds to increasingly accessing GEF STAR resources and ultimately upgrading to execution as FSPs, the type and level of support from UNDP and the CPMT should evolve as a continuum within that single, coherent global program management framework.

In addition, in line with a strategy to optimize UNDP’s value added as the implementing Agency of the SGP, as mentioned under Recommendation 1, UNDP should provide guidance to the SGP and to UNDP resident representatives to strengthen synergies between SGP and UNDP programming at the country level, while recognizing the peculiarities of the SGP as a GEF corporate program. 

4

To UNDP and the Central Programme Management Team

Recommendation 4. Continue efforts to improve M&E, designing more streamlined and useful M&E tools and activities that balance the need to measure with the need to provide support to local communities in tackling environmental issues.

With guidance from the GEF Secretariat, UNDP and the CPMT should continue to strengthen and streamline M&E. The CPMT should move quickly to update its M&E framework, with a focus on streamlining and aligning indicators and tools to track and validate progress toward SGP strategic objectives, as appropriate at different levels (global, national, and local). An opportunity exists for developing and performing a more practical monitoring function by using simple but innovative M&E tools and systems that are adapted to the needs, resources, and community focus of the SGP, and that achieve a financial and operational balance between the need to measure and the need to provide support to local communities in tackling environmental issues of global significance. A possible source of inspiration for village-level indicators is the ongoing SGP cooperation with the COMDEKS program.

As a result of the revised M&E framework, the monitoring demands on national coordinators and grantees should be reduced overall, but should contribute to a clearer picture of project and national progress. The CPMT should consider moving quickly to recruit a full-time senior M&E officer whose main task would be to develop and implement the revised framework.

1. Recommendation:

To the GEF

Recommendation 1. Revitalize the SGP Steering Committee to support high-level strategic thinking in developing a long-term vision for the SGP, to foster dialogue between UNDP and the GEF, and to advise the Council as appropriate on strategic decision making.

The SGP has continued to be a relevant, effective, and efficient program; however, in some areas there is a lack of clarity as to program expectations and its long-term evolution. A revitalized global Steering Committee—which could include the GEF Secretariat, UNDP, UNOPS, a representative from the GEF NGO Network, and/or other members as appropriate—would provide a forum for clarification of the SGP’s long-term vision, future approaches to upgrading (including upgrading criteria), articulation of the role of broader adoption in the SGP, the balance between global environmental benefits and socioeconomic objectives, and other issues that might arise. The revived committee could assist in articulating the GEF corporate nature of the SGP, clarifying the role and responsibilities of UNDP as a GEF Agency implementing a GEF corporate program, and developing a strategy to optimize UNDP’s value added. Where policy decisions are required, the Steering Committee would provide advisory services to the GEF Council. At the final stakeholder consultation workshop on the draft evaluation, the evaluation team was informed that discussions are ongoing on draft terms of reference for a revitalized Steering Committee, following the recommendation in the OPS5 final report, which in turn was informed by the first phase report of this joint evaluation. 

Some of these issues could be discussed in a wider forum as well—for example, in an international workshop bringing in SGP decision makers and implementers, as well as other stakeholders and partners from selected program countries. The proceedings of such a high-level forum could then be shared with the GEF Council for consideration.

Management Response: [Added: 2015/07/21] [Last Updated: 2020/07/07]

We support the recommendation of the evaluation report and have begun the process of revitalizing the SGP Steering Committee. New TORs have been discussed that clearly define the role of the Committee as a forum for clarification of the SGP’s long-term vision as well as other strategic issues.

We concur that the SGP Steering Committee will oversee an updating of the SGP’s corporate vision and long-term strategy. The SGP Steering Committee may organize, as needed, wider fora on key strategic issues to bring into the discussion other key stakeholders and partners. Inputs from these consultations will feed into the Committee’s strategic guidance on SGP as well as to the preparation of Council papers, as appropriate. 

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
The SGP Steering Committee may organize, as needed, wider fora on key strategic issues to bring into the discussion other key stakeholders and partners. Inputs from these consultations will feed into the Committee’s strategic guidance on SGP as well as to the preparation of Council papers, as appropriate.
[Added: 2018/01/08] [Last Updated: 2018/04/23]
GEF-SGP 2018/12 Completed The SGP Steering Committee chaired by GEF Secretariat on behalf of the GEF partnership, and including UNDP, the GEF CSO Network and SGP's Central Programme Management Team (CPMT) meets twise annually.These meetings provided strategic guidance to the programme and are held in conjunction with GEF Council meetings. A review of programme progress was undertaken and guidance on strategic directions, including new opportunities and changes in development context was provided by the Steering Committee last year. With the organization of SGP sessions at Expanded Constituency Workshops (ECWs) organized by the GEF in 2017, opportunities were leveraged for further finetuning of SGP’s future directions with stakeholders for the upcoming GEF 7 phase. In addition, in January 2017, a Global Visioning Workshop was held in Costa Rica, holding high level strategic consultations with programme partners and stakeholders. The workshop included discussions on key strategic outcomes proposed for SGP in future, while reflecting on the feedback received from ECWs, and elaboration of proposed approaches with staff and partners. History
2. Recommendation:

To the GEF and UNDP

Recommendation 2. Continue upgrading, building on strengths while addressing the weaknesses identified. The criteria for selecting countries for upgrading should be revisited.

Upgrading should be seen as a continual process, in which country programs mature; acquire capacity; and evolve in terms of their partnerships, cofinancing, and degree of mainstreaming; and eventually reach an upgraded status. Consolidation of the process should be sufficiently flexible to match the conditions prevailing in all participating countries, while maintaining an incentive to each and every country program to evolve. The criteria for upgrading should be revisited, and recommendations for revisions submitted to the GEF Council. This revision should be informed by the SGP Steering Committee and/or the proceedings from the international conference mentioned in Recommendation 1.

The FSP modality for upgraded countries should be modified to maximize the positive and minimize the negative effects. This modification could include the use of innovative procedures that: - allow FSPs to follow the “annual rolling modality” of the SGP rather than being limited to fixed timeframes; - ensure that civil society continues to be at the wheel of the SGP—even when it is no longer alone in the driver’s seat; - allow groups of upgrading countries to implement their SGP country programs through a single, multicountry FSP, as was done for STAR 1 and STAR 2 non-upgraded countries; and - allow the most mature countries with small STAR allocations to be able to upgrade but still use SGP core funds, hopefully leading to a combination of the characteristics and benefits of the FSP modality with the use of SGP core funds.  

Although all countries should be able to adopt the upgraded status, upgrading should be voluntary for LDCs and SIDS. 

For non-upgraded countries, the process for accessing STAR funds through a global project should be modified so as to minimize delays and uncertainties, as well as to lessen the current competition for GEF funding among stakeholders at the country level.

Management Response: [Added: 2015/07/21] [Last Updated: 2020/07/07]

We agree with the recommendation that upgrading remains voluntary for LDCs and SIDS and that changes to the process for accessing STAR funds by non-upgraded countries through the global project should be clear and agreed. 

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
UNDP and CPMT, in consultation with the GEF Secretariat, will continue to refine operationalization of the upgrading policy. We welcome the four suggestions listed under this recommendation and will work with the GEF Secretariat to design and execute these recommended changes in GEF-7, in particular to ensure all around compliance with the SGP Operational Guidelines.
[Added: 2018/01/08] [Last Updated: 2018/04/23]
GEF-SGP 2018/01 Completed Per SGP OP6 Guidelines, for Upgrading Country Programmes, a standard UNDP-GEF Project Document is produced that reflects the Country Program strategy that is broadly coherent with the SGP Global strategic initiatives announced at the commencement of each Operational Phase. The Project Document is formulated after approval of the corresponding PIF and is approved by UNDP and the GEF CEO as per standard GEF and UNDP procedures. In the development of the Project Document, the same multistakeholder, participatory approach is followed as that of Country Program Strategy development. All upgraded countries are building on the experience of UNDP’s COMDEKS community-based landscape planning approach implemented through the SGP in 20 pilot countries. Upgraded country programmes are implementing similar community-based landscape approaches as their core programming framework, building the capacities of community organizations to take collective action for adaptive landscape management for social and ecological resilience. History
3. Recommendation:

To UNDP 

Recommendation 3. Ensure that the SGP is implemented under a single, coherent global program framework.

All SGP country programs, whether upgraded or not, should be implemented under a single, coherent global program framework. As country programs mature from being purely funded by core funds to increasingly accessing GEF STAR resources and ultimately upgrading to execution as FSPs, the type and level of support from UNDP and the CPMT should evolve as a continuum within that single, coherent global program management framework.

In addition, in line with a strategy to optimize UNDP’s value added as the implementing Agency of the SGP, as mentioned under Recommendation 1, UNDP should provide guidance to the SGP and to UNDP resident representatives to strengthen synergies between SGP and UNDP programming at the country level, while recognizing the peculiarities of the SGP as a GEF corporate program. 

Management Response: [Added: 2015/07/21] [Last Updated: 2020/07/07]

We concur with the recommendation that the SGP Steering Committee oversee how the SGP could be implemented under a single, coherent global Programme framework. This process has already commenced with both the SGP non-upgraded and Upgrading Country Programmes supervised under a single unit in UNDP/GEF as of January 2014.

The policy that Upgrading Country Programmes continue to follow the SGP Operational Guidelines has also been sustained. The SGP OP6 Regional Workshops for orienting Country Programmes on the strategic directions, priorities, expected outcomes and targets for GEF-6 include both non-upgraded and Upgrading Country Programmes. UNDP will send appropriate communications to UNDP Country Offices to strengthen synergies between SGP and UNDP programming at the country level while recognizing the specificities of SGP as a GEF ‘corporate programme’.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
UNDP will send appropriate communications to UNDP Country Offices to strengthen synergies between SGP and UNDP programming at the country level while recognizing the specificities of SGP as a GEF ‘corporate programme’.
[Added: 2018/01/08] [Last Updated: 2018/04/23]
GEF-SGP 2018/01 Completed SGP is a global programme that is highly country driven. At the country level all activities involve national stakeholders and partners and grant selection processes are managed at the national level through multi-stakeholder National Steering Committees (NSCs) which have UNDP Country Office representation and civil society members. SGP National Coordinator works in close coordination with UNDP's country efforts, and NSC members are involved in monitoring and review of implementation. At the global level SGP Central Programme Management Team, in close communication with UNDP-GEF, provides oversight and guidance, helps to ensure programmatic coherence and achievement of outcomes and objectives across all country programmes. CPMT also plays key roles in securing resources, donor reporting and technical guidance and overall programme management. At the global level strategic direction is provided by the SGP Global Steering Committee chaired by the GEF Secretariat on behalf of the GEF partnership and including UNDP and the GEF CSO Network as members and the CPMT as the secretary to the Steering Committee. History
4. Recommendation:

To UNDP and the Central Programme Management Team

Recommendation 4. Continue efforts to improve M&E, designing more streamlined and useful M&E tools and activities that balance the need to measure with the need to provide support to local communities in tackling environmental issues.

With guidance from the GEF Secretariat, UNDP and the CPMT should continue to strengthen and streamline M&E. The CPMT should move quickly to update its M&E framework, with a focus on streamlining and aligning indicators and tools to track and validate progress toward SGP strategic objectives, as appropriate at different levels (global, national, and local). An opportunity exists for developing and performing a more practical monitoring function by using simple but innovative M&E tools and systems that are adapted to the needs, resources, and community focus of the SGP, and that achieve a financial and operational balance between the need to measure and the need to provide support to local communities in tackling environmental issues of global significance. A possible source of inspiration for village-level indicators is the ongoing SGP cooperation with the COMDEKS program.

As a result of the revised M&E framework, the monitoring demands on national coordinators and grantees should be reduced overall, but should contribute to a clearer picture of project and national progress. The CPMT should consider moving quickly to recruit a full-time senior M&E officer whose main task would be to develop and implement the revised framework.

Management Response: [Added: 2015/07/21] [Last Updated: 2020/07/07]

CPMT, together with the UNDP-GEF global coordinator of the Upgrading Country Programmes, has held a series of technical meetings aimed at designing and instituting a more effective M&E system. Much progress has been made towards developing a more practical monitoring function adapted to the needs, resources and community focus of the SGP. A process of simplifying the Programme’s M&E functions by creating a nested system with appropriate indicators identified at global, country and grant project level is currently underway and will be finalized, after suitable testing and adaptation, by early 2016. Within OP6, M&E will be more impact-oriented, as well as contributing to adaptive management at different levels.  More focused M&E resources and tools at community, country and global levels will be developed by CPMT and the UCP Global Coordination team.

SGP’s design for OP6, as articulated in the recently approved SGP OP6 PIF, builds on this framework with the aim of: (a) focusing SGP grant making around clear strategic initiatives based on country and global priorities and where strategic impact can be achieved, and (b) focusing SGP grant making within defined landscape and seascape areas, where baselines and indicators can be more appropriately selected and monitored to show impact over time, and (c) reducing the spread of SGP grant making from six focal areas spanning 10 immediate objectives to only four priority themes that promote multi-focal area strategies on the landscapes and seascapes selected in-country. CPMT management planning for OP6 includes adding an M&E specialist to the team to lead development and implementation of an improved M&E framework for the Programme.  This will be done in close collaboration with the UNDP – GEF Results Management and Evaluation Advisor and UNDP’s Development Impact Group.

 

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
Within OP6, M&E will be more impact-oriented, as well as contributing to adaptive management at different levels.  More focused M&E resources and tools at community, country and global levels will be developed by CPMT and the UCP Global Coordination team.
[Added: 2018/01/08] [Last Updated: 2018/04/23]
GEF-SGP 2018/01 Completed With SGP’s portfolio monitoring and management system at global, country and project levels, SGP undertakes monitoring at three levels: the grant project level where grantees are enabled to adaptively manage projects; the country level where the SGP national teams monitor projects results as they relate to the indicators and targets in the Country Programme Strategies, and at the Global level where the SGP CPMT gathers information from countries and reports annually to the GEF and other partners on the results achieved by projects through the Annual Monitoring Report and partnership results report. During the last year, 1,648 projects, representing 53% of the active portfolio, received monitoring visits from SGP country staff. Three global evaluations were conducted for partnership initiatives of Community Development and Knowledge Management for the Satoyama Initiative (COMDEKS), EU-NGO Strengthening Project and Community-based Adaptation (CBA). Annual reports were also produced for these in line with partner requirements. History

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