Mid-term evaluation of the project "Strenghtening the Institutional and Financial Sustainability of the Croatia's National Protected Area System" (PARCS)

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Evaluation Plan:
2014-2017, Croatia
Evaluation Type:
Mid Term Project
Planned End Date:
01/2017
Completion Date:
06/2016
Status:
Completed
Management Response:
Yes
Evaluation Budget(US $):
42,000

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Title Mid-term evaluation of the project "Strenghtening the Institutional and Financial Sustainability of the Croatia's National Protected Area System" (PARCS)
Atlas Project Number: 00077440
Evaluation Plan: 2014-2017, Croatia
Evaluation Type: Mid Term Project
Status: Completed
Completion Date: 06/2016
Planned End Date: 01/2017
Management Response: Yes
Focus Area:
  • 1. Others
Corporate Outcome and Output (UNDP Strategic Plan 2014-2017)
  • 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 $): 42,000
Source of Funding: project budget
Evaluation Expenditure(US $): 25,000
Joint Programme: No
Joint Evaluation: No
Evaluation Team members:
Name Title Email Nationality
Josh Brann International Consultant Brann.Evaluation@gmail.com
Ognjen Skunca National Consultant oskunca@yahoo.com
GEF Evaluation: Yes
GEF Project Title:
Evaluation Type:
Focal Area: Biodiversity
Project Type: FSP
GEF Phase: GEF-5
GEF Project ID:
PIMS Number: 4731
Key Stakeholders:
Countries: CROATIA
Lessons
1.

Projects supporting institutional reforms should be designed in a way that allows great flexibility and adaptability to the uncertainty regarding the political context and final results of political decision-making processes. Such projects should support structured, argument-based discussion on the preferable institutional reform scenario, while focusing on practical on-the-ground activities convincingly demonstrating benefits of the proposed reforms. The Croatia PARCS project was not necessarily designed this way, but the PMU has undertaken implementation along these lines by finding practical approaches to meeting the project’s objectives in the face of political uncertainty with respect to institutional reform.


2.

Bringing individuals together for joint activities, experience sharing, and joint problem solving can make a big difference in developing a shared identity and common purpose. Through the Croatia PARCS project the staff of the PIs have had the opportunity to communicate and interact with their peers much more than they had before. Many of the PI staff interviewed for the MTR indicated that there is now much more of a cohesive identity and understanding of the PAs as part of one larger system, rather than the original identity of 19 completely independent and separate entities.

,

National PA systems must be cohesive and share resources to achieve financial sustainability for all PAs. There are typically only a few PAs within an entire national system that have the capacity to generate high revenue from tourism, and thus this revenue must be shared within the system to support PAs that have less revenue generation potential. In other words, it is not realistic to expect all individual PAs to be financially self-sustaining; an integrated national PA system as a whole has much greater potential to achieve financial self-sustainability.  

,

Modern technology has the potential to significantly improve the efficiency and effectiveness of PA management through innovative approaches, if all stakeholders buy-in to such approaches. In the case of the Croatia PARCS project, the project-developed e-ticketing system and the smartphone application are expected to improve the visitor experience, but also have extremely significant potential to facilitate improved PA management through better real time information about PA visitation, and more comprehensive data.

,

It is important to gather and involve project stakeholders from the early stage of the project design and also to ensure their participation later in the process of the project implementation, particularly those stakeholders who may be affected by the project’s activities. This is crucial for establishing the feeling of ownership of the project results. According to stakeholders in the PARCS project, there was not sufficient consultation with all relevant stakeholders (particularly the professional nature conservation staff within the country) with respect to the project’s approach of either institutional reform or establishing the SSC. This is partially why the project has faced some challenges in reaching this result, even though the project has employed excellent stakeholder participation during implementation.


Findings
1.

With respect to relevance, the project is considered relevant / highly satisfactory. The project objective addresses the highest priority overarching issues facing Croatia’s protected area system – its institutional framework, and financial sustainability. The project is fully in-line with Croatia’s national policies and legislation related to biodiversity conservation and the protected area system.

Project efficiency is rated satisfactory. Project implementation is considered satisfactory, while project execution (i.e. project management) is also assessed as satisfactory.

Financial management procedures are in-line with norms for international development projects, and conform to UNDP and Croatian policies and procedures.

The PMU is highly professional and has demonstrated excellent planning, reporting, financial management, and has provided various technical inputs on financial and other aspects. Considering the back-and-forth political decision-making that has affected the project’s first component, the PMU has demonstrated remarkable adaptive management, with exceptional foresight, risk management, and contingency planning. The project has strong stakeholder engagement through various partnership approaches, with highlights including the project’s collaboration with the related World Bank project and the Ministry of Finance, and the excellent working relationships and communication with the 19 national PAs.

The PARCS project is well on-track to make important progress toward the overall project objective, and to achieve the supporting two outcomes. The project is likely to achieve a majority of its key results indicator targets. At the same time, progress on some of the key results has been slower than planned due to vacillations in political decision-making related to establishment of the SSC vs. a new PAs institution. Project results / progress toward overall outcomes thus far is rated moderately satisfactory, and project effectiveness is also rated moderately satisfactory. Nonetheless, the project has the clear potential to reach a level of results by completion that would warrant a highly satisfactory rating at project completion.

Sustainability is difficult to assess at the mid-term of a project, but risks to the sustainability of project results appear to be only moderate at this stage, and overall sustainability is considered moderately likely.


Recommendations
1

The project should re-emphasize to stakeholders the need for a concise and practical national strategic document (Output 1.1) to set in place the vision and organizational set-up for the national protected area system in the coming five-year period. This will serve as a tool for stakeholder engagement, coordination, a more stable and focused strategic approach for development of the national protected area system, and collective planning and management of the system of protected areas, both during the remaining implementation of the project and in the period after the end of the project. This should be a practical and implementable document of no more than 30 pages. This strategic vision document should be linked and integrated with the NBSAP. Although the document will have no legislative basis, its relevance will derive from the consensus of all key stakeholders, and in this way it will help mitigate potential future instability caused by shifting political winds. A draft of this document should be developed and approved as soon as possible, but preferably by the end of 2016, and at the latest in the 1st quarter of 2017. [MENP/PMU and UNDP].

2

While all planned results remain as high priorities, the project should prioritize establishment and operationalization of the system-level PA revenue sharing mechanism before project completion. In absence of establishment of the SSC, this will serve as a major substitute achievement that will significantly address critical systemic weaknesses. In support of this mechanism, the project should re-institute the activity of a basic system-level business plan, in order to analyze the system as a unit from a financial perspective, with various sources of revenue in the system, and the financial needs. Such an exercise would be relatively straightforward as it would be significantly informed by the project’s already-completed work on financial analysis of the system, and the system-level pricing activity. In fact, the establishment of a revenue sharing mechanism is likely to require such a document as necessary supporting documentation, to provide convincing detailed justification, rationale, and outline of procedures for re-allocation of resources within the system (e.g. how much, to whom, for what, under what criteria). The revision of the nature protection law, codifying relevant PA system changes, is a second, related, and also highly important result to be achieved. The project should provide close support to the ongoing process of the nature protection law revision, by preparing key project results – including the system-level PA revenue sharing mechanism, provisions on minimum management standards, financial management, management plans preparation, etc. – in the formats required by the law revision process. [MENP/PMU]

3

At least six months before completion the project should prepare a sustainability plan outlining how the functional areas with the highest potential for improvement of management efficiency and effectiveness through more coordination and provision of shared services are being addressed, and will continue to be addressed after project completion. These are: a) fund-raising and shared revenue distribution; b) high value procurement of common goods and services; c) collective branding, promotion, marketing, communications, sales and reservations; d) project preparation and management; e) shared legal support services, and f) potentially also human resources management (notably a common payroll management system). [PMU]

4

Building on the above recommendation, the project should develop a full exit strategy, to be agreed with all stakeholders, that outlines how key project results will be sustained. For example, how the web portal will be maintained, how the necessary technical and management support for the e-ticketing system will be maintained, how the operating and maintenance costs of project investments in PA infrastructure and services (e.g. solar boats, etc.) will be covered in the future, etc. This should also be carried out approximately six months prior to completion. [PMU]

5

The project should work with PAs to emphasize the necessarily co-dependent nature of PA management planning, PA business planning, and elements such as pricing and visitor management. Some national PAs are at risk of carrying out some of these elements individually, without sufficient recognition of the importance of the inter-linkages between each of them. To fulfill this recommendation, the team should work with the PAs currently undertaking i) management planning; ii) business planning; iii) pricing strategies; or iv) visitor management planning to ensure that the three latter elements are adequately integrated with and supportive of the nature conservation management objectives of the PAs, but also support revenue needs for effective management. The result of this action will be PA pricing strategies and visitor management plans with sustained relevance for mid-term planning (i.e. ~ 5 years), which ensure that natural values of PAs are not infringed upon, but which also generate revenue at the desired level. To achieve longer-term outcomes, it may be necessary to produce guidelines for Croatia on the integration of business planning with PA management plans, since all PAs will not be completing pricing strategies, visitor management plans, and business plans before project completion. [MENP/PMU] 

6

Partially linked with the above recommendation, the project should work with PAs to sufficiently achieve completion spatial/physical plans that are fully aligned with the PA management plans (incorporating business planning aspects). The absence of spatial/physical plans was originally identified as a major barrier for effective management of PAs in the project document, but is not an issue that the project has focused on, although it remains a significant challenge for effective management of PAs, including financial management aspects. The project could, for example, develop the capacity of PAs to work effectively with physical planners to ensure PA management considerations are fully reflected in spatial/physical plans; another option might be to produce a small number of case studies of PA physical planning highlighting good practices or lessons, with the goal of undertaking more significant work on this issue within the forthcoming EU funding window. Also, for example, appropriate provisions addressing this issue could be included in all guidelines prepared by the project, including in particular the guidelines for preparation of the PA management plan; practical guidelines on visitor’s management (based on the pilot prepared for NP Plitvice lakes); practical guidelines on preparation of business plans for PAs (based on implemented pilot business plans); and provisions on minimum standards for effective PA management. This would include sufficiently detailed descriptions of the issues that should be addressed to harmonize all planning documents. By including appropriate requirements in guidelines being prepared, the practice of effective development of and integration with spatial/physical plans will be “built in” for the future. These activities are expected to contribute to longer-term outcomes addressing the spatial/physical plan “barrier” identified in the project document; this means that at the end of the next round of expected spatial/physical plan updating and revision, plans will be adopted that appropriately and adequately reflect requirements for effective management of PAs. However, it is not anticipated that the process of development and adoption of these spatial/physical plans would be completed before the end of the project. [MENP/PMU]

7

The project should seize the opportunity to contribute to further development of public-private partnerships related to PA services, such as tourism services. This could be pursued through strengthening Public Institutions’ know-how and capacities for engagement and facilitation with the private sector, including development of incentives for investment, or approaches such as investor information packets. This would be in the context of the project’s work on the development of more cohesive and integrated tourism and recreational products to improve the visitor experience. Along related lines, it could be helpful to support sharing lessons and experiences between PAs on approaches to concessions, from the international level, but also at the national level – for example through a workshop or series of presentations at joint meetings. [PMU]

8

The project should revise the results framework indicators and targets to strengthen their alignment with “SMART” criteria. Some proposed revisions are included as an annex to this report. Any final revised version of the results framework should be approved by the Project Board. [MENP/PMU, UNDP, Project Board]

9

As the project duration has been effectively shortened for half a year, with the last year with less support from UNDP (as the national office is closing, and support services will be provided from the regional level), and as some time has been lost due to changing direction and associated postponements of various activities, the PMU should be strengthened by both A) a complete pool of long-term experts covering all key issues addressed by the project, including the team leaders in the teams that prepared the key project deliverables, and including internationally recognized experts for quality assurance in-line with international best practices for the most challenging tasks related to system capacity strengthening; and B) additional member of the core team, senior staff with experience in the project management, coordination, supervision; dealing with the integration, take over and sustainability of the project results, in particular within Component 1. [MENP and UNDP]

10

Considering that there will be no opportunity for project extension since all UNDP activities in Croatia will be ceasing, the project should ensure contingency plans for ensuring disbursement of all funds by the end of 2017. This could include, for example, taking advantage of opportunities to invest in technical assistance for preparation of projects for PAs for the pipeline of subsequent EU funding, as this provides a strong financial leveraging mechanism and supports sustainability of results produced from GEF funding. [PMU and Project Board]

11

The project should carry out an at least preliminary analysis of potential synergies and benefits of shared services related to the core business of nature conservation, similar to the work that has been done to analyze the potentially beneficial operational functions. It will be insightful for all stakeholders to see and understand the potential benefits for biodiversity conservation that might be possible if it were more feasible for PAs to share resources (e.g. equipment, human resources, scientific data, etc.) related to their core business. This activity is highly correlated with the foreseen activity dealing with the national plan for development of the capacities and competencies of PA staff. [MENP/PMU and Project Board]

12

Throughout the remaining project period the project should invest additional effort in extracting from project deliverables and formatting well-thought-out “packages” of information for targeted purposes and audiences, in order to maximize the relevance and sustainability of some of the projects major analytical outputs. For example, this could include distilling some of the project’s major studies into short (2-3 page) policy briefs or information documents. Along similar lines, to increase understanding of and access to project results by stakeholders, the project should prepare a list of the project’s key outputs and deliverables, with a summary in English and Croatian. [PMU]

13

The project should consistently and comprehensively document all sources of co-financing, including leveraged and parallel financing. [UNDP and PMU]

14

Considering the place of Plitvice Lakes as the “crown jewel” of the national PA system, which has more than 1 million visitors per year and generates more than half of the self-generated revenue in the national PA system, the project should provide the necessary support and expertise to ensure that Plitvice Lakes has access to the best possible international expertise for the urgent – preferably initiated during the 2016 high visitation season - development of its visitor management plan. If feasible within time and budget constraints, a visitor management plan for Krka NP should also be completed. [PMU]

15

Building on the already established practice of regular MENP meetings and thematic workshops with PA staff, the project should seize the opportunity to introduce and – during the remaining time of the project – establish practice of systemic, need-driven approach to capacity building in PAs, based on the established effectiveness assessment tools, i.e. the METT, Capacity Development and Financial Scorecards. Operationally, the project should identify the weakest points in the METT, Capacity Development and Financial Scorecards and select some of them as the subjects for the capacity building workshops with the PA staff during the remaining time of the project. This activity will also most directly contribute to achieving of the targets set in the project results framework. [MENP/PMU]

16

The project should assure that PA’s annual work plans and annual reports include, in an appropriate high quality manner, the degree of conservation for the Natura 2000 target species and habitats within the protected areas (i.e. the EU Article 17 three-point rating system of FV, U1, U2). The level of conservation should be among the central concerns in the PA’s risk management, and contingency planning practice. [MENP/CAEN]

17

There is currently an inadequate understanding of the financing “gap” for effective PA management in the Croatian context. Although management costs depend on the specific context of each PA, an overall standardized and objective approach for basic and optimal PA management budgeting should be established. Considering that enhancing transparency and efficiency is a key objective of the PARCS project, the project should put resources toward the development of standards and criteria for sound financial planning for PA’s core activities. This activity should start with analysis of the existing best practice and comparative analysis of the current practice in Croatian parks (not necessarily all of them, but sample representative with regard to the types of habitat and level of visitation, and associated distinctive management practices). The activity both draws from and feeds into the activities dealing with preparation of PA business plans.

1. Recommendation:

The project should re-emphasize to stakeholders the need for a concise and practical national strategic document (Output 1.1) to set in place the vision and organizational set-up for the national protected area system in the coming five-year period. This will serve as a tool for stakeholder engagement, coordination, a more stable and focused strategic approach for development of the national protected area system, and collective planning and management of the system of protected areas, both during the remaining implementation of the project and in the period after the end of the project. This should be a practical and implementable document of no more than 30 pages. This strategic vision document should be linked and integrated with the NBSAP. Although the document will have no legislative basis, its relevance will derive from the consensus of all key stakeholders, and in this way it will help mitigate potential future instability caused by shifting political winds. A draft of this document should be developed and approved as soon as possible, but preferably by the end of 2016, and at the latest in the 1st quarter of 2017. [MENP/PMU and UNDP].

Management Response: [Added: 2016/07/21] [Last Updated: 2016/07/21]

Strategic documents for the national PA system has been planned under the project activity 1.1., but since the beginning of the project, Technical Work Group consisting out of experts for protected areas on a national level (MENP, CAEN, PIs) did not recognize importance, purpose of a “new” strategic document intended only for national PAs, while system already has NBSAP which covers all PAs along with the Natura 2000 and not just national and nature parks. Also, considering that this document will have no legislative basis they are in belief that it will never be possible to implement.

Therefore, PARCS project, in agreement with TWG decided to implement numerous activities where strategic planning was being implemented partially, on a level of particular activities. By analyzing all identified finding through the numerous project activities, it is possible to construct a draft document with proposed strategic guidelines. Such document will be widely discussed with all the relevant stakeholders prior to adopting.

Key Action(s)

Time Frame

Responsible Unit(s)

Tracking

Status

Comments

1.1. Review of all stakeholder’s consultations implemented within scope of the project (development of the NBSAP, development of business plan for Shared Service Centre, development of pricing methodology, analysis for establishment of the national agency), since many of strategic issues have already been discussed

2016 – Q3, Q4

2017 – Q1, Q2

PMU and UNDP

MENP

CAEN

In preparation

 

1.2. Drafting a strategic guidelines document

2017 – Q1, Q2

PMU and UNDP

 

 

1.3. Final stakeholder consultation process and finalization of the document

2017 – Q2

MENP

PMU and UNDP

 

 

Key Actions:

2. Recommendation:

While all planned results remain as high priorities, the project should prioritize establishment and operationalization of the system-level PA revenue sharing mechanism before project completion. In absence of establishment of the SSC, this will serve as a major substitute achievement that will significantly address critical systemic weaknesses. In support of this mechanism, the project should re-institute the activity of a basic system-level business plan, in order to analyze the system as a unit from a financial perspective, with various sources of revenue in the system, and the financial needs. Such an exercise would be relatively straightforward as it would be significantly informed by the project’s already-completed work on financial analysis of the system, and the system-level pricing activity. In fact, the establishment of a revenue sharing mechanism is likely to require such a document as necessary supporting documentation, to provide convincing detailed justification, rationale, and outline of procedures for re-allocation of resources within the system (e.g. how much, to whom, for what, under what criteria). The revision of the nature protection law, codifying relevant PA system changes, is a second, related, and also highly important result to be achieved. The project should provide close support to the ongoing process of the nature protection law revision, by preparing key project results – including the system-level PA revenue sharing mechanism, provisions on minimum management standards, financial management, management plans preparation, etc. – in the formats required by the law revision process. [MENP/PMU]

Management Response: [Added: 2016/07/21] [Last Updated: 2016/07/21]

Development of the cross-subsidization model has been recognized as one of the most important issues in the national PA system thus PARCS project has invested lot of effort in developing several models, but unfortunately, Government did not bring needed decisions for further implementation, within any of proposed models. Current representatives in MENP perceive the short-term opportunity for cross-subsidization within the establishment of Fund in complete jurisdiction of the MENP. PARCS project will prepare input for operational mechanism for transfer of funds, as well business plan and necessary documentation, but importantly cannot influence Government decision and implementation process.

Key Action(s)

Time Frame

Responsible Unit(s)

Tracking

Status

Comments

2.1. Detailed analysis of institutional and financial management of 19 public institutions in order to have detailed inputs for development of cross-subsidization model

2015

PMU and UNDP

Done

 

2.2.Analysis of potential model 1: Establishment of Shared Service Centre

2015

PMU and UNDP

Done

 

2.3. Analysis of potential model 2: Establishment of new joint institution for management of 19 protected areas

2016 – Q1, Q2, Q3

PMU and UNDP

In progress

 

2.4.Analysis of potential model 3: Establishment of the Fund within the Ministry

2016 – Q3, Q4

PMU and UNDP

In preparation

 

2.5.Operational support in establishment of the selected model

2017 – Q1, Q2, Q3, Q4

PMU and UNDP

MENP

 

 

Key Actions:

3. Recommendation:

At least six months before completion the project should prepare a sustainability plan outlining how the functional areas with the highest potential for improvement of management efficiency and effectiveness through more coordination and provision of shared services are being addressed, and will continue to be addressed after project completion. These are: a) fund-raising and shared revenue distribution; b) high value procurement of common goods and services; c) collective branding, promotion, marketing, communications, sales and reservations; d) project preparation and management; e) shared legal support services, and f) potentially also human resources management (notably a common payroll management system). [PMU]

Management Response: [Added: 2016/07/21] [Last Updated: 2016/07/21]

Sustainability plan will be prepared as planned.

Key Action(s)

Time Frame

Responsible Unit(s)

Tracking

Status

Comments

3.1. Preparing sustainability plan

2017 – Q1, Q2

PMU and UNDP

 

 

Key Actions:

4. Recommendation:

Building on the above recommendation, the project should develop a full exit strategy, to be agreed with all stakeholders, that outlines how key project results will be sustained. For example, how the web portal will be maintained, how the necessary technical and management support for the e-ticketing system will be maintained, how the operating and maintenance costs of project investments in PA infrastructure and services (e.g. solar boats, etc.) will be covered in the future, etc. This should also be carried out approximately six months prior to completion. [PMU]

Management Response: [Added: 2016/07/21] [Last Updated: 2016/07/21]

All relevant stakeholders are involved in the project implementation and are familiar with the project activities. Sustainability of the project results has been discussed from the beginning of the project implementation with all the key stakeholders. Institutions that will cover these activities in the future are already involved in implementation, in order to ensure their ownership and knowledge of the processes.

Key Action(s)

Time Frame

Responsible Unit(s)

Tracking

Status

Comments

4.1. Consultation with relevant institutions in order to agree who will proceed implementation of each activity upon finalization of the PARCS project

2017 – Q1, Q2

PMU and UNDP

 

 

 

4.2. Preparation of documents/packages for each activity with all relevant information that will enable sustainable continuation of activities upon finalization of the PARCS project

2017 – Q2, Q3

PMU and UNDP

 

 

 

Key Actions:

5. Recommendation:

The project should work with PAs to emphasize the necessarily co-dependent nature of PA management planning, PA business planning, and elements such as pricing and visitor management. Some national PAs are at risk of carrying out some of these elements individually, without sufficient recognition of the importance of the inter-linkages between each of them. To fulfill this recommendation, the team should work with the PAs currently undertaking i) management planning; ii) business planning; iii) pricing strategies; or iv) visitor management planning to ensure that the three latter elements are adequately integrated with and supportive of the nature conservation management objectives of the PAs, but also support revenue needs for effective management. The result of this action will be PA pricing strategies and visitor management plans with sustained relevance for mid-term planning (i.e. ~ 5 years), which ensure that natural values of PAs are not infringed upon, but which also generate revenue at the desired level. To achieve longer-term outcomes, it may be necessary to produce guidelines for Croatia on the integration of business planning with PA management plans, since all PAs will not be completing pricing strategies, visitor management plans, and business plans before project completion. [MENP/PMU] 

Management Response: [Added: 2016/07/21] [Last Updated: 2016/07/21]

Findings from stakeholder consultation in different segments of the project will be gathered and added to guidelines for development of management plans.

Key Action(s)

Time Frame

Responsible Unit(s)

Tracking

Status

Comments

5.1. Consultation with the individual public institutions that are currently undertaking management planning, business planning, pricing strategies or visitor management planning in order to gather recommendations for the system level

2016 – Q3, Q4

2017 – Q1, Q2

PMU and UNDP

MENP

CAEN

 

 

 

5.2. Development of business plans for Nature Park Papuk, Nature Park Ucka and National Park Risnjak

2017 – Q1, Q2

PMU and UNDP

MENP

CAEN

 

 

5.3. Integration of recommendations into a guidelines for development of management plans

2017 – Q2, Q3

PMU and UNDP

MENP

CAEN

 

 

Key Actions:

6. Recommendation:

Partially linked with the above recommendation, the project should work with PAs to sufficiently achieve completion spatial/physical plans that are fully aligned with the PA management plans (incorporating business planning aspects). The absence of spatial/physical plans was originally identified as a major barrier for effective management of PAs in the project document, but is not an issue that the project has focused on, although it remains a significant challenge for effective management of PAs, including financial management aspects. The project could, for example, develop the capacity of PAs to work effectively with physical planners to ensure PA management considerations are fully reflected in spatial/physical plans; another option might be to produce a small number of case studies of PA physical planning highlighting good practices or lessons, with the goal of undertaking more significant work on this issue within the forthcoming EU funding window. Also, for example, appropriate provisions addressing this issue could be included in all guidelines prepared by the project, including in particular the guidelines for preparation of the PA management plan; practical guidelines on visitor’s management (based on the pilot prepared for NP Plitvice lakes); practical guidelines on preparation of business plans for PAs (based on implemented pilot business plans); and provisions on minimum standards for effective PA management. This would include sufficiently detailed descriptions of the issues that should be addressed to harmonize all planning documents. By including appropriate requirements in guidelines being prepared, the practice of effective development of and integration with spatial/physical plans will be “built in” for the future. These activities are expected to contribute to longer-term outcomes addressing the spatial/physical plan “barrier” identified in the project document; this means that at the end of the next round of expected spatial/physical plan updating and revision, plans will be adopted that appropriately and adequately reflect requirements for effective management of PAs. However, it is not anticipated that the process of development and adoption of these spatial/physical plans would be completed before the end of the project. [MENP/PMU]

Management Response: [Added: 2016/07/21] [Last Updated: 2016/07/21]

Area of spatial/physical planning is in jurisdiction of the Ministry of Construction and Physical Planning which puts significant challenge, even for the MENP, in the effective management of PAs. These challenges are mostly related to a fact that spatial plans, in legislative terms, are above the PA management plans (PA management plans have been adopted in conformance with the spatial plans).

Also, adoption and further application of spatial plans often reflects a political disagreement on a local level. Therefore such issues are difficult to solve at the project/system level because they are beyond the project competence.

Key Action(s)

Time Frame

Responsible Unit(s)

Tracking

Status

Comments

6.1. Consultations and communication with the beneficiaries (MENP, CAEN, PIs) and other related stakeholders on the importance of addressing this issue in harmonization of all planning documents

2017 – Q1, Q2

PMU and UNDP

MENP

CAEN

 

 

Key Actions:

7. Recommendation:

The project should seize the opportunity to contribute to further development of public-private partnerships related to PA services, such as tourism services. This could be pursued through strengthening Public Institutions’ know-how and capacities for engagement and facilitation with the private sector, including development of incentives for investment, or approaches such as investor information packets. This would be in the context of the project’s work on the development of more cohesive and integrated tourism and recreational products to improve the visitor experience. Along related lines, it could be helpful to support sharing lessons and experiences between PAs on approaches to concessions, from the international level, but also at the national level – for example through a workshop or series of presentations at joint meetings. [PMU]

Management Response: [Added: 2016/07/21] [Last Updated: 2016/07/21]

Public-private partnership in Croatia, within management of protected areas hasn’t been developed up to now.  Outsourcing of tourism services has been an issue for the past years. There’s a lot of discussion on what should be outsources and what shouldn’t. Government decided that HORECA (hotels, restaurant) should be outsourced, but implementation has been stopped from unknown reasons.

What PARCS project could influence is to open discussion between parks in order to exchange experiences and create inputs related to: concession approvals and cooperation with business sector (family farms, small tourism agencies, non-government associations and similar).

Key Action(s)

Time Frame

Responsible Unit(s)

Tracking

Status

Comments

7.1. Stakeholder meeting for exchange of information and experiences

2017 – Q2

PMU and UNDP

 

 

 

7.2. Creating recommendations/good practice examples

2017 – Q2

PMU and UNDP

 

 

 

Key Actions:

8. Recommendation:

The project should revise the results framework indicators and targets to strengthen their alignment with “SMART” criteria. Some proposed revisions are included as an annex to this report. Any final revised version of the results framework should be approved by the Project Board. [MENP/PMU, UNDP, Project Board]

Management Response: [Added: 2016/07/21] [Last Updated: 2016/07/21]

Result framework indicators will be revised as planned.

Key Action(s)

Time Frame

Responsible Unit(s)

Tracking

Status

Comments

8.1. Alignment of indicators with “SMART” criteria

 

2016 – Q3

PMU and UNDP

MENP

CAEN

In process

 

Key Actions:

9. Recommendation:

As the project duration has been effectively shortened for half a year, with the last year with less support from UNDP (as the national office is closing, and support services will be provided from the regional level), and as some time has been lost due to changing direction and associated postponements of various activities, the PMU should be strengthened by both A) a complete pool of long-term experts covering all key issues addressed by the project, including the team leaders in the teams that prepared the key project deliverables, and including internationally recognized experts for quality assurance in-line with international best practices for the most challenging tasks related to system capacity strengthening; and B) additional member of the core team, senior staff with experience in the project management, coordination, supervision; dealing with the integration, take over and sustainability of the project results, in particular within Component 1. [MENP and UNDP]

Management Response: [Added: 2016/07/21] [Last Updated: 2016/07/21]

Project team will be strengthening with additional experts, as per suggestion.

Key Action(s)

Time Frame

Responsible Unit(s)

Tracking

Status

Comments

9.1. Engagement of the national protected area expert

2016 – Q3

PMU and UNDP

MENP

In progress

 

9.2. Engagement of the national expert for development of the documents, as per MTR recommendation

2016 – Q3

PMU and UNDP

MENP

CAEN

In progress

 

9.3. Engagement of international expert for development of guidelines for protected areas management plans and human resource management in protected areas

2016 – Q3

PMU and UNDP

MENP

CAEN

In progress

 

9.5. Engagement of international expert for visitor management in protected areas

2016 – Q2

PMU and UNDP

MENP

CAEN

In progress

 

Key Actions:

10. Recommendation:

Considering that there will be no opportunity for project extension since all UNDP activities in Croatia will be ceasing, the project should ensure contingency plans for ensuring disbursement of all funds by the end of 2017. This could include, for example, taking advantage of opportunities to invest in technical assistance for preparation of projects for PAs for the pipeline of subsequent EU funding, as this provides a strong financial leveraging mechanism and supports sustainability of results produced from GEF funding. [PMU and Project Board]

Management Response: [Added: 2016/07/21] [Last Updated: 2016/07/21]

PARCS project is using MCGA schemes for the allocation of financial funds to public institutions for direct investments. In many cases, allocated resources are used as a leverage for additional funds. This modality ensures that PIs capacities are strengthened and further developed to enable them to carry out such activities after the project completion. Also, MCGA will ensure that all financial resources will be used adequately.

Key Action(s)

Time Frame

Responsible Unit(s)

Tracking

Status

Comments

10.1. Allocation of MCGA schemes and monitoring of implementation

2016 – Q3, Q4

2017 – Q1, Q2, Q3, Q4

PMU and UNDP

 

In process

 

Key Actions:

11. Recommendation:

The project should carry out an at least preliminary analysis of potential synergies and benefits of shared services related to the core business of nature conservation, similar to the work that has been done to analyze the potentially beneficial operational functions. It will be insightful for all stakeholders to see and understand the potential benefits for biodiversity conservation that might be possible if it were more feasible for PAs to share resources (e.g. equipment, human resources, scientific data, etc.) related to their core business. This activity is highly correlated with the foreseen activity dealing with the national plan for development of the capacities and competencies of PA staff. [MENP/PMU and Project Board]

Management Response: [Added: 2016/07/21] [Last Updated: 2016/07/21]

Company Axis HRM contracted for the development of the analysis for integration of 19 PIs into a joint institution will assess the potential benefits of merging all functional areas, as well the nature conservation function (expert services) and protection function (ranger services). Additional efforts will be invested through the implementation of the National Capacity Building Plan for PA staff in Croatia, where certification requirements will be developed for expert service staff.

Key Action(s)

Time Frame

Responsible Unit(s)

Tracking

Status

Comments

11.1. Description of potential synergies related to core business of nature conservation

2016 – Q3

PMU and UNDP

MENP

CAEN

In progress

 

11.2. Development of certification requirements for expert service staff

2017 – Q2, Q3

PMU and UNDP

MENP

CAEN

 

 

Key Actions:

12. Recommendation:

Throughout the remaining project period the project should invest additional effort in extracting from project deliverables and formatting well-thought-out “packages” of information for targeted purposes and audiences, in order to maximize the relevance and sustainability of some of the projects major analytical outputs. For example, this could include distilling some of the project’s major studies into short (2-3 page) policy briefs or information documents. Along similar lines, to increase understanding of and access to project results by stakeholders, the project should prepare a list of the project’s key outputs and deliverables, with a summary in English and Croatian. [PMU]

Management Response: [Added: 2016/07/21] [Last Updated: 2016/07/21]

Project deliverables will be formatted in “packages”, as per recommendation.

Key Action(s)

Time Frame

Responsible Unit(s)

Tracking

Status

Comments

12.1. Development of 2-3 packages

2017 – Q2, Q3

PMU and UNDP

 

 

12.2. Development of project’s key outputs and deliverables

2017 – Q2, Q3

PMU and UNDP

 

 

 

Key Actions:

13. Recommendation:

The project should consistently and comprehensively document all sources of co-financing, including leveraged and parallel financing. [UNDP and PMU]

Management Response: [Added: 2016/07/21] [Last Updated: 2016/07/21]

The project is consistently and comprehensively documenting co-financing from all sources.

Key Action(s)

Time Frame

Responsible Unit(s)

Tracking

Status

Comments

13.1.  Consistent and comprehensive documenting of co-financing

2016 – Q3, Q4

2017 – Q1, Q2, Q3, Q4

PMU and UNDP

continuously

 

Key Actions:

14. Recommendation:

Considering the place of Plitvice Lakes as the “crown jewel” of the national PA system, which has more than 1 million visitors per year and generates more than half of the self-generated revenue in the national PA system, the project should provide the necessary support and expertise to ensure that Plitvice Lakes has access to the best possible international expertise for the urgent – preferably initiated during the 2016 high visitation season - development of its visitor management plan. If feasible within time and budget constraints, a visitor management plan for Krka NP should also be completed. [PMU]

Management Response: [Added: 2016/07/21] [Last Updated: 2016/07/21]

PARCS project will support National Park Plitvice Lakes in accessing the best possible expertise.

Key Action(s)

Time Frame

Responsible Unit(s)

Tracking

Status

Comments

14.1.  Providing inputs for technical description of the task – development of visitor management plan

2016 – Q3

PMU and UNDP

 

In process

 

14.2. Ensuring that NP Plitvice Lakes has available expert for public procurement that will support them in contracting selected experts

2016 – Q3

PMU and UNDP

 

In process

 

14.3. Ensuring that selected experts create guidelines for the system level, based on pilot project in National Park Plitvice Lakes

2017 – Q2

PMU and UNDP

 

 

 

Key Actions:

15. Recommendation:

Building on the already established practice of regular MENP meetings and thematic workshops with PA staff, the project should seize the opportunity to introduce and – during the remaining time of the project – establish practice of systemic, need-driven approach to capacity building in PAs, based on the established effectiveness assessment tools, i.e. the METT, Capacity Development and Financial Scorecards. Operationally, the project should identify the weakest points in the METT, Capacity Development and Financial Scorecards and select some of them as the subjects for the capacity building workshops with the PA staff during the remaining time of the project. This activity will also most directly contribute to achieving of the targets set in the project results framework. [MENP/PMU]

Management Response: [Added: 2016/07/21] [Last Updated: 2016/07/21]

PARCS project is regularly organizing thematic education/workshops on various subjects for the PA staff. Two topics will be selected from the area that were being detected through effectiveness assessment tools (such as METT, Capacity Development and Financial Scorecard).

Key Action(s)

Time Frame

Responsible Unit(s)

Tracking

Status

Comments

15.1. Organization of two thematic workshops for park staff

2017 – Q1, Q2

PMU and UNDP

MENP

CAEN

 

 

Key Actions:

16. Recommendation:

The project should assure that PA’s annual work plans and annual reports include, in an appropriate high quality manner, the degree of conservation for the Natura 2000 target species and habitats within the protected areas (i.e. the EU Article 17 three-point rating system of FV, U1, U2). The level of conservation should be among the central concerns in the PA’s risk management, and contingency planning practice. [MENP/CAEN]

Management Response: [Added: 2016/07/21] [Last Updated: 2016/07/21]

The degrees of conservation for the Natura 2000 target species and habitats within the protected areas are revised/updated each year by the Croatia Agency for Environment and Nature (CAEN), and reports are sent to European Commission in October. PARCS project will assist to give additional input and recommendation on PA’s annual work plans and reports to include degree of conservation for the Natura 2000 target species and habitats.

Key Action(s)

Time Frame

Responsible Unit(s)

Tracking

Status

Comments

16.1.  Creating recommendation in management guidelines related to degree of conservation for the Natura 2000 target species and habitats

2016 – Q3

PMU and UNDP

MENP

CAEN

 

 

Key Actions:

17. Recommendation:

There is currently an inadequate understanding of the financing “gap” for effective PA management in the Croatian context. Although management costs depend on the specific context of each PA, an overall standardized and objective approach for basic and optimal PA management budgeting should be established. Considering that enhancing transparency and efficiency is a key objective of the PARCS project, the project should put resources toward the development of standards and criteria for sound financial planning for PA’s core activities. This activity should start with analysis of the existing best practice and comparative analysis of the current practice in Croatian parks (not necessarily all of them, but sample representative with regard to the types of habitat and level of visitation, and associated distinctive management practices). The activity both draws from and feeds into the activities dealing with preparation of PA business plans.

Management Response: [Added: 2016/07/21] [Last Updated: 2016/07/21]

Sustainable management planning for PA’s is being developed as part of contract with the company ZaVita that is developing pricing methodology.

Key Action(s)

Time Frame

Responsible Unit(s)

Tracking

Status

Comments

17.1.  Proposal of the model for sustainable financing of protected areas

2016 – Q4

PMU and UNDP

 

 

 

Key Actions:

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