Mid-Term Review of Supporting Green Urban Development in Small and Medium-Sized Cities in Belarus

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Evaluation Plan:
2016-2020, Belarus
Evaluation Type:
Mid Term Project
Planned End Date:
04/2019
Completion Date:
05/2019
Status:
Completed
Management Response:
Yes
Evaluation Budget(US $):
20,000

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Title Mid-Term Review of Supporting Green Urban Development in Small and Medium-Sized Cities in Belarus
Atlas Project Number: 00081828
Evaluation Plan: 2016-2020, Belarus
Evaluation Type: Mid Term Project
Status: Completed
Completion Date: 05/2019
Planned End Date: 04/2019
Management Response: Yes
UNDP Signature Solution:
  • 1. Sustainable
  • 2. Energy
Corporate Outcome and Output (UNDP Strategic Plan 2018-2021)
  • 1. Output 2.5.1 Solutions developed, financed and applied at scale for energy efficiency and transformation to clean energy and zero-carbon development, for poverty eradication and structural transformation
SDG Goal
  • Goal 11. Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable
  • Goal 13. Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts
  • Goal 7. Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all
SDG Target
  • 11.2 By 2030, provide access to safe, affordable, accessible and sustainable transport systems for all, improving road safety, notably by expanding public transport, with special attention to the needs of those in vulnerable situations, women, children, persons with disabilities and older persons
  • 13.2 Integrate climate change measures into national policies, strategies and planning
  • 7.3 By 2030, double the global rate of improvement in energy efficiency
Evaluation Budget(US $): 20,000
Source of Funding:
Evaluation Expenditure(US $): 28,290
Joint Programme: No
Joint Evaluation: No
Evaluation Team members:
Name Title Email Nationality
Viktoryia Kalosha Partner at Imacon vika@gotin.org
GEF Evaluation: Yes
GEF Project Title: Green Cities
Evaluation Type: Mid-term Review
Focal Area: Climate Change
Project Type: FSP
GEF Phase: GEF-5
GEF Project ID: 5372
PIMS Number: 4981
Key Stakeholders: Line Ministries; Implementing Partners; CSOs, private sector.
Countries: BELARUS, REPUBLIC OF
Lessons
Findings
1.

3. Project Overall Innovativeness:

The Belarus Green Cities Project has developed a niche and network that is potentially very high impact and of critical importance to nation. 9 That niche is planning originating at city level that incorporates energy-environment considerations and integrates spatial planning with transport, energy, and waste. Success of the project could greatly impact Belarus’ approach to urban planning, which currently is conducted at the national-level, with limited input from the cities, and which has neither strong energy-environment considerations nor integration of spatial planning with other areas, such as energy and transport. Belarus Green Cities is the first international project related to integrated urban planning in Belarus and the first energy-environment project that brings together so many different aspects. There have been some smaller projects related to participatory urban planning, but this is the first project promoting integrated urban planning in combination with participation. And, past energyenvironment projects have had much narrower scope, focusing on a specific type of measure.


Tag: Energy Environment Policy Urban Civic Engagement Local Governance Innovation Urbanization

2.

Relevance/ need: The project overall is in line with needs and national policy. The project is needed because: (1) MPs lack cost calculations and funding allocation, so some measures that are in the public interest/ socially important are not realized. (2) MPs as spatial plans are insufficiently integrated with different “sectors” such as transport and thus lack sufficient consideration of energy and environmental issues. (3) MPs lack strategy and vision, not answering the question of what the city would like to look like in 20 years. As for congruence with national policy: (1) Belarus’ National Urban Planning Policy 2016-2020 states a need to improve the quality of life, safety, and living standards. (2) Thanks partly to the formulation work for this project, Belarus’ National Green Economy Action Plan (2016) mandates that a GUDP-like plan (a “symbio plan”) be prepared for the city of Brest.


Tag: Relevance National Urban

3.

Overall impression of stakeholders and MTR team: The overall impression conveyed by stakeholders is of a project working in an important area, a project team that is very dedicated and capable, affiliated experts of very high quality, and a communications strategy well delivered. The overall impression of the MTR team includes all of these aspects as well.11 At the same time, a minority of stakeholders point out issues of true concern. The MTR team likewise sees major risks that could inhibit the project from making a long-term impact. One key concern is that the project appears mostly tactical to date, delivering a slew of activities (many conferences, two study tours, and a huge amount of long reports and planning documents), with insufficient focus on activities that will strategically facilitate long-term change. The reports and conferences have led to the distillation of recommendations that are now actively being made in the policy sphere and positive developments in this regard are apparent. Yet, the MTR team finds that there is a need at this point to more fully shift from an output-oriented approach to an outcome/ impactoriented approach in selection of project activities. The concern that the project won’t, in the end, have real, long-term impact may be broken down into the following areas: risk that the project does not achieve enough of the needed change in policy/ legislation, risk that the project does not impact the urban planning process in Belarus, risk that the plans being prepared are in theory meaningful but in practice not of high quality, risk that initiatives in the plans cannot get financed so that plans “sit on the shelf,” and risk that the demos are either not realized or don’t have good quality or adequate GHG ERs. Below is a listing of comments by stakeholders regarding their overall impressions of the project.


Tag: Environment Policy Urban Rule of law Programme/Project Design Policy Advisory

4.

Most notable achievements: The most notable achievements of the project to date are: (1) Inclusion in Belarus Council of Ministers decree National Green Economy Action Plan (Dec. 2016) of requirement that Brest prepare GUDP-like symbio city plan. While direct attribution goes to MNREP, the project, with its focus on GUD and MNREP as IP, is extremely likely to have had indirect influence. As a result of decree, BelNIIP has attached Brest Symbio Plan (prepared by the project) to the Brest MP, which was updated in 2018. These (the decree and annexing of Best Symbio Plan to the MP) are considered among the most impactful results of the project to date. (2) Incorporation of project recommendations related to GUDP in two policy documents, Country Profile on Housing and Land Management of the Republic of Belarus and Concept of National Strategy for Sustainable Development, including text in the latter that calls for “introduction of the principles and methods of green urban development.” Likely inclusion of detailed recommendations by the project into the new version of the full National Strategy for Sustainable Development. (3) Increased interest of city officials, their mindset change, and their great enthusiasm for GUD. Increasing trend in number of cities attending project events (graph below) shows increased interest. Strong enthusiasm for GUD and mindset change noted during MTR consultations. (4)


Tag: Environment Policy Green Economy National Civic Engagement Local Governance

5.

Greatest concerns: The greatest concerns about the project are: (1) Overall concern that the project is operating mainly at an activity/output level, generating a large number of events and reports/ documents, the latter of which may sit on a shelf, and lacks enough activities tailored to achieving long-term, sustainable impacts. (2) Limited policy results as compared to what is needed, despite key policy reports and recommendations and some policy successes to date, and a lack of strategic activities to try and get policies adopted (other than asking MRNEP to handle). Relatedly, there is only a weak level of interest among some key national officials, particularly those in MoAC, which oversees urban planning. (3) Lack of progress (aside from Brest precedent) in impacting the master planning process and lack of engagement with BelNIIP. (4) Despite some progress, lack of needed capacity of city officials. For example, in SUT area, thinking at time of MTR mission still focused on expensive infrastructure fixes with lack of recognition of how effective and money-saving low-cost measures can be and lack of political will to adopt such measures.


Tag: Energy Challenges National Risk Management Sustainability Urbanization

6.

Cross-cutting work – project communications: Project communications to the general public in Belarus employs a compelling strategy of being unconventional and has seen strong results in terms of reach. Multiple stakeholders commented to the MTR team that they had seen the project promoted in the media. Avoiding the conventional (such as brochures), the project has gotten its two animated videos shown on 26 channels (for free); and these continue to be shown. The project manager appeared on the popular TV show Good Morning Belarus, the first UNDP project manager to do so. The project has achieved 180 articles in the press (a typical level for UNDP projects in Belarus), three live radio shows on the most popular of the serious stations, and has held press breakfasts, which impressively have attracted the press to visit the pilot cities. All of this has been achieved prior to having the project demos launched, which should be among the most newsworthy of project achievements. Launch of the project website was delayed until recently as the project looked for a partner to host it long-term, before deciding to go ahead on its own. The website is attractive and rich in content, though lacks a long-term home. The MTR team noted attractive project calendars hanging on the wall in a number of the offices they visited to confer with stakeholders.


Tag: Urban Communication Project and Programme management

7.

Cross-cutting work - outreach to and awareness raising for specific types of stakeholders: The greatest communications issues the project now faces have less to do with promotion to the general public, which is going quite well, and more to do with specific messages for specific audiences, including national officials, BelNIIP, city officials, and residents of partner cities. With these groups, there is a need for focusing the message of what the project is about (especially for national and city officials), developing a rapport to discuss ideas and effect change (especially for national officials and BelNIIP and probably to be carried out in one-on-one meetings), and building awareness of how locally developed plans can benefit cities and how low-cost measures can be impactful (especially for city officials and local residents of partner cities). Improving communications to these specific groups is likely a job for the entire project team and affiliated experts, rather than one specific to the Communications Officer, who leads and implements the outreach to the general public. It will require strategic thinking, an ability to understand the situation and psychology of the target group (e.g. national-level officials are really busy, though may have an interest in quality, “well-digested” information). The MTR team understands that the project has recently developed a communications strategy with messages tailored to various target groups and has been implementing this in 2019. It is hoped that this strategy addresses or can be adjusted to address the key communications concerns conveyed in this report. In addition to the core one-on-one or small group work needed to address the foregoing needs, some attractive ideas for outreach to specific groups raised during the mission are: (1) Development of a course on GUD to be delivered to municipal officials at the Presidents Academy for Public Administration/ Management. This course would need to ensure only students serious about the content are selected. (2) Inclusion of project demos in site visits held by Council of Ministers for regional and municipal officials at different times of year. (3) Preparation of an innovative video on the project demos. The project is considering using drones for such a video.


Tag: Civic Engagement Local Governance Awareness raising Capacity Building Institutional Strengthening

8.

4. Outcome 1. Green Urban Development Plans This section and the subsequent three cover the work and needs associated with each of the project outcomes. For Outcome 1, the main areas of work and desired impact are GUDPs, policy/ legislation, and the planning process. GUDPs: Considered a key highlight of the project, the innovativeness and need for GUDPs has been covered above, along with the favorable review of the GUDP process by municipal stakeholders and the success of the Brest Symbio Plan being annexed to its MP. The team noted a high level of enthusiasm and smiles when municipal stakeholders expressed their experience with GUDPs (or the similar symbio plan). The project has taken great care and a thoughtful approach to developing its GUDP methodology. The approach now being used starts with indicator selection, which then drives design of the plan. The project started with one set of GUDP indicators and then shifted to another more easily understood by Belarusian cities. To make the process truly city-driven, the project involves cities from the start in indicator selection. Aside from the project GUDPs, the only other such activity in Belarus is EBRD’s Green City Action Plan work for Minsk. According to one stakeholder, the project’s GUPDs encompass much more than EBRD’s work (focused on environment and energy), as they also encompass city planning, smart cities, etc. Because this is a GEF project, the question arises, then, of whether these plans are on-target for the aim of GHG emission reduction. While the plans are broader, it appears that at least some of the priorities selected by the cities are indeed in line with GHG ERs. For example, priorities noted in the case of Polotsk are primarily transport oriented (transport system, safety problem of trucks avoiding tolls using Republic Road around city, and city being split up by railroad) and in the case of Novopolotsk partly transport oriented (transport system and green and open areas), while in the case of Novogrudok less related but still having some possible links to energy (historical heritage, safety issues with regard to fire, drainage system, and condition of residential buildings).


Tag: Emission Reduction Environment Policy Challenges Resource mobilization Urban Local Governance Rule of law Monitoring and Evaluation Sustainability

9.

While there is real merit in the work being done and excitement about its innovation, as noted earlier, there is a need to ensure the GUDPs are of high quality and something that will be really useful in Belarus and result in concrete action. In review of the Polotsk draft GUDP, the MTR Team found it to be a comprehensive document containing all the elements of previously developed documents, three strategies for transformation of urban spaces, strategy for green urban development (covering land-use management, population density, transport/ mobility, public and "green" spaces), indicators and targets, and an action plan with list of activities, dates, resources, and costs. While this is a vision/strategic oriented document, the MTR Team sees some room to develop it further, with more specifics and concrete content. With some further development, it appears the document, if adopted by the city, will definitely be useful to Polotsk in its development. The Novopolotsk and Novogrudok GUDPs are in an earlier draft phase and need finalization of specific action plans, activities cost estimates, and sources of funding. All of the draft GUDPs are somewhat heavy on the descriptions and could benefit from more specifics. The Polotsk and Novopolotsk GUDPs might give more attention to the subject of the two cities as an agglomeration/ metroplex


Tag: Emission Reduction Environment Policy Urban Local Governance Monitoring and Evaluation Partnership Programme/Project Design

10.

Policy: While policy adoption is ultimately beyond the control of the project, the MTR team believes it is important for the project to develop more targeted actions to raise the probability that key national policy and legislative recommendations of the project are adopted. From meeting with both national government officials and experts familiar with such officials, the team understands that officials are really busy and may lack the time to attend conferences. Yet, many of them are seriously interested in high quality input on policy and legislative matters. It is thus recommended that the project develop plans for a series of strategically designed, brief one-on-one meetings and prepare well-digested briefing materials of key project products (e.g. perhaps one of two pages each). From the project’s side, meetings should be conducted by an expert and someone who is skilled and well-prepared in delivering a succinct, very focused and compelling message. And, meetings should also be framed as an exchange, with the project seeking the advice of the official. Work should be done in determining the most appropriate persons (influencers and decision-makers who are serious and interested in input) with whom to request such meetings. W


Tag: Environment Policy National Urban Civic Engagement Local Governance Rule of law Advocacy Policy Advisory

11.

Planning Process: While the project’s most compelling overall aim is to impact the nation’s city planning process, no progress has been made to date in cooperating with or influencing the approach of BelNIIP, the institution responsible for preparing the MPs of all cities other than Minsk. A concrete manifestation of this overall aim, as conveyed by several stakeholders, may be for BelNIIP to use the GUDP as a sort of TOR for the MP and the SUMP as a sort of TOR for the MP’s transport annex. (The third type of plan supported by the project, the SECAPs, are not seen to be as relevant to the MPs and are considered more of an action plan, while the GUDPs and SUMP are more strategic and vision-oriented.) As noted, it is considered a success that BelNIIP has annexed the Brest Symbio Plan to the city’s 2018 MP, but the Symbio Plan was not used as a TOR to inform the preparation of the MP. And, some suggest it was only annexed because of the policy support behind Brest’s Symbio Plan (namely the requirement by the National Green Economy Action Plan that such a plan be prepared).


Tag: Environment Policy Local Governance Programme/Project Design Project and Programme management

12.

Thus, it is recommended that the project redesign its strategy for engaging BelNIIP, while at the same time pursuing influence via MOAC, which oversees BelNIIP. It is a promising development that the project is actively pursuing engagement with MOAC’s Department of Urban Planning, Design, Science and Technology, and Innovation Policy, which oversees BelNIIP and issues TORs for the MPs that BelNIIP prepares. The MTR team found that BelNIIP is, in fact, quite aware of concepts like participatory planning and incorporation of SDGs in planning. As evidence, BelNIIP has a Department of Sustainable Urban Development that is currently carrying out a participatory planning project with SIDA funding. Based on various consultations, the MTR team understands that BelNIIP will very likely be receptive to small meetings with the project, namely meetings between project experts and BelNIIP experts. It is thus suggested that, as with government officials, the project pursue one-on-one or small group meetings with BelNIIP. The purpose would be not only to explain what the project is doing, but also to get BelNIIP’s feedback on this work and particularly on how GUDPs might be improved and integrated with MPs and SUMPs, with transport annexes.


Tag: Environment Policy National Urban Local Governance Partnership Project and Programme management

13.

5. Outcome 2. SUT Pilots and ISUMP

For Outcome 2, the main area of work and desired impact is SUT in Polotsk and Novopolotsk, with subareas being bicycles and public transport/ private car use. The project has commissioned feasibility studies in the area of both bicycles and public transport and aims to carry out SUT demos. In addition, the project has recently prepared a draft integrated SUMP (ISUMP) for the two cities. Ideally, the ISUMP would have been prepared first and used to inform the content of the feasibility studies with the benefit of surveys conducted for the SUMP. Instead, the feasibility studies were prepared first, based partly on the original initiatives proposed in the project document (e.g. bike trail between the two cities, improved bus stops, schedule signage for bus stops, etc.). The findings from the feasibility studies, as a result, were used to inform the preparation of the ISUMP. A challenge facing the SUT demos is that the cities consider the project-financed work quite separate from any work the cities carry out. The MTR team strongly recommends that the project work to convince the cities of the benefit of developing an integrated package of project-financed and cityfinanced measures. The cities should understand that the project will be widely promoting the joint achievements of the project and the cities, so that integrating efforts will benefit all involved.


Tag: Emission Reduction Energy Environment Policy Resource mobilization Urban Infrastructure

14.

Bicycles: The project aims to pave a bicycle trail between the two cities, which are at closest 2.5 km apart and support additional bicycle lanes in the cities. The current plan is that the total route will be 11 km, including 3km of an independent bicycle-pedestrian trail between the cities that also passes through various villages along the way and an additional 8 km of bicycle lanes incorporated into urban roads. Based on the feasibility study and expert opinion, the MTR team suggests the project urge the cities to provide additional support for 22 km of bicycle lanes added to city roads, bringing the total to 30 km, as recommended in the feasibility study, and that this additional work be presented as a “package” with project work.14 Further, it is recommended that the project consider using a small portion of the total investment on the bicycle side (e.g. $20,000 to $40,000 of the $300,000 to $400,000 total) to equip the city with places to park the bikes. This would involve providing bike racks across both cities (some supported by the project and some perhaps supported by institutions) and, as the project may be planning, a pilot overnight bike storage structure at a residence courtyard or university or perhaps bike storage facilities within apartment buildings where the trash chute used to be. Bike racks on the front of buses going between the two cities may be of interest, though some stakeholders believe these are not necessary at present, as bikes can be taken aboard buses. An additional issue for the project team to raise with the cities is the removal in winter of the bumps that separate the bicycle lanes from car traffic lanes. These are removed because they make cleaning snow off the streets difficult, but ideally a solution would be developed so that the bumps can remain in the winter to support year round riding of bicycles.15


Tag: Emission Reduction Environment Policy Civic Engagement Local Governance

15.

Public Transport and Private Cars: The MTR team, at the time of the MTR mission, found plans for the other part of the demos, which involve public transport, to lack high impact, transformative measures – the ones most likely to increase use of public transport and decrease the use of private cars as compared to business as usual. Here we include measures for private cars along with those for public transport, because it is generally agreed that efforts to attract people to ride buses by improving public transport (“pull measures”) will only work well when accompanied by measures to discourage private car use (“push measures”). The MTR team found that key items among the measures being considered at the time of the MTR mission may have limited impact on long-term GHG ERs and are unlikely to be meaningful game changers that attract attention and inspire replication. And, other measures that were being considered are controversial with regard to GHG ER benefit. Generally, during consultations, the team found a lack of enthusiasm about the public transport measures under consideration, contrasting with strong enthusiasm for the bicycle related demos. Yet, because the much greater GHG potential will be in this public transport/ private car category, it is imperative that work be done to ensure the measures eventually selected have strong GHG ER benefits, high replication potential, and high stakeholder enthusiasm. The MTR team understands that, since the time of submission of the draft MTR report, Polotsk has begun to consider some more impactful measures to promote public transport.


Tag: Emission Reduction Energy Environment Policy Civic Engagement Infrastructure

16.

As mentioned, after submission of the draft MTR Report, Polotsk became more interested in such impactful measures and has agreed to test a 4 km bus lane with barriers in city center (the first true bus lane in the country) and is likely also to adopt time-of-day private car restrictions in certain places in city center. As for Novopolotsk, less concrete progress has been made, but conducive background conditions exist. Previously, a bus (or, in the long term, bus-tram) corridor was proposed in Recommendations for Planning Sustainable Urban Mobility - Let's Make the City Comfortable for Life in 2015 and approved for further action by city authorities. The corridor includes Ekiman 1st, Molodezhnaya St., Katorov St., and Promyshlennaya St. This corridor is now also planned to accommodate part of the bike path between the two cities, so that a reduction in maximum car speed from 90 km per hour to 40 to 60 km per hour has been called for by the PIU, which may reduce the amount of private cars on this corridor. Another background condition of interest is that Polotsk, a few years back under the Interaction-EU project, tried to charge for parking in city center, but was blocked by this at the oblast level. Further, officials in both cities in the area recognize that, according to recent research, the greater emissions in city areas is due to the transport sector rather than the Novopolotsk petrochemical facilities, as might be expected. And, it has been indicated that Novopolotsk and Polotsk are the most progressive medium sized cities in Belarus when it comes to SUT. Thus, the project is, in a sense, a golden opportunity to push for some impactful measures, despite the seeming lack of receptivity at the time of the MTR mission.


Tag: Emission Reduction Energy Civic Engagement Local Governance Infrastructure Advocacy Awareness raising Coordination

17.

Only once the above steps have been taken, with both additional expert input on the demo options and with additional education of the cities by the experts on the benefits and costs of various measures, should further debate be held and decisions made on which measures to adopt and how the demo budget will be divided.17 In line with the theme that low-cost or no-cost transport measures can be very impactful, the project and its stakeholders may want to consider an approach of spreading the funds across many low cost measures if indeed these are what will have the most impact. One idea raised in discussions is to use part of the demo funds for a small grant fund to which state organizations or NGOs may apply to implement such low cost measures.18 While the project modality may not allow this approach, involvement of activists and NGOs in project public hearings for the ISUMP and GUDPs may provide the opportunity for individuals to promote their ideas for such measures to city officials.


Tag: Emission Reduction Energy Human and Financial resources Awareness raising

18.

Integrated SUMP: At this point, a draft integrated SUMP (ISUMP) for the two cities has just been prepared. 19 As noted above, integration of transport measures between the two cities remains a challenge, so that for the public transport/ car aspect of the demos, separate measures are recommended. The ISUMP, then, faces the challenge of presenting forward-looking thinking on transport integration in the face of a current situation that is not yet ready to support most integrated measures. Yet, in this regard, preparing the ISUMP after the feasibility studies may have made sense after all, as the ISUMP then becomes the plan for the future beyond the project demos. The ISUMP strongly promotes the idea of tram extension within Novopolotsk and on to Polotsk, something for which Polotsk is not that receptive at present. The draft ISUMP does not present information on lifecycle costs and benefits of the tram extension and comparison to the no-tram-extension scenario, though this is something that would be very helpful for the finalized ISUMP to address to validate its recommendation of tram extension. The ISUMP appears to provide in-depth recommendations on improvement of bus routes and needed road and highway networks to address integration of the two cities’ transport systems and their incorporation into the wider region, which should be quite useful and is something envisioned as very important at the time of project design. The first 32 pages of the 45 page draft ISUMP focus mainly on the results of the transport survey.


Tag: Energy Environment Policy Urban Operational Efficiency Programme/Project Design

19.

6. Outcome 3. Municipal Energy Efficiency Pilots

For Outcome 3, the main area of work is EE demonstration. The original outputs include: feasibility studies for EE in Novogrudok and other cities, demo of LED lighting for streets and public areas with control gear, and demo of EE equipment for Novopolotsk laundry. In the end, the project is supporting feasibility studies for the Novogrudok demos only, though these studies might well be used as models for other cities. The lighting demo has been narrowed from street lighting and public area lighting to street lighting only. And, the laundry demo (due to the city moving ahead with the laundry retrofits on its own) has been changed to plans for a multi-utility smart meter demo. Because city-owned laundries are not that common in Belarus, this demo may have lacked replication potential, anyhow.


Tag: Energy Environment Policy Local Governance Technical Support

20.

Street lighting demo: Among all project demos, the Novogrudok street lighting demo is the one closest to implementation. The contract for installation (which includes design and equipment as well) has been signed and work is to begin soon. The project team decided to focus on street lighting only, as they believe the GHG benefits will be higher per dollar spent than for public area lighting. The design originally called for inclusion of outside lighting in public areas, so that people could have a complete path that was well-lit, from the street to the end of their journey. Yet, at the time of design, many of the original lights in outside public areas were missing, suggesting it may not have made sense to replace them under the same conditions should they go missing again. By the time project implementation began in late 2016, LED street lights were already fairly common in Belarus. Today, 1,500 of Novogrudok’s 2,000 street lights already have LED bulbs. Thus, the main innovation of the demo is the automatic control system, which will allow individual control of each light and dimming late in the night to save energy.20 As noted earlier, this is completely new to Belarus. The only other cases are a small area demo in Minsk and a concurrent demo planned for Polotsk (a larger city than Novogrudok) that will have 1,500 street lights. The Polotsk demo will be higher cost per light included as all the cabling will be replaced. The project’s Novogrudok demo will not replace cabling and aims to be a model for small cities that would like to prepare a similar, low-cost smart LED streetlight installation. The PIU has provided an estimate of 730 tons of CO2 emissions reduced over ten years for the Novogrudok LED streetlight installation. This is substantially less than the 3,140 tons of direct GHG ERs indicated for the streetlight demo in the ProDoc, which also uses a ten-year lifetime.


Tag: Emission Reduction Environment Policy Implementation Modality Innovation Programme/Project Design

21.

Smart meters: In January 2019, the Government of Belarus issued New Decree on Modernization of Apartment Buildings. The decree indicates that each apartment building in the nation should have smart meters. While there have been previous demonstrations of a single type of smart meter in apartment buildings (for example, some for heating meters and some for water meters), there has been no demonstration fully supporting this decree by installing smart meters for multiple utility services in a single building. The demo now planned for the project would install multiple smart meters in each of sixty flats in a single residential building in Novogrudok. The smart meters to be included are those for heating, electricity, hot water, cold water, and gas. To prepare for the demo, the project did energy audits of 45 apartment buildings and found that only three of the 45 had horizontal heating, which is a prerequisite to retrofits for individually metering heating in apartments. So, one of these three apartment buildings was chosen for the demo. The main concern of the MTR team with regard to this planned demo is whether, as part of a GEF climate change mitigation project, the energy savings justification and potential replication of that savings are in place. For the incorporation of individual meters for heating where there was no individual metering before (along with regulators, so households can control heating levels), the case of energy savings potential is clear, though not dependent on having a smart meter instead of non-smart meter. Right now, residents in Belarus pay only 17 percent of the cost of their heating, with the rest subsidized. As the government plans to increase the share paid by residents, the metering of heating is thought to be good preparation for this eventuality, though such demos have been done before. Nationwide, about ten to 15 percent of apartment buildings have horizontal heating, so while it’s a minority, such demos still have substantial replication potential.


Tag: Emission Reduction Energy Environment Policy Urban Local Governance

22.

7. Outcome 4. Replication of Green Urban Development

Outcome 4 is considered the “replication outcome,” with the purpose of replicating GUD in other cities and setting up a sustainable mechanism whereby replication will continue. As originally designed, the main outputs of Outcome 4 included preparing a SEAP for Novopolotsk, an updated SEAP for each of Polotsk and Novogrudok, preparing SEAPs or GUDPs for ten other cities, and developing a mechanism for promoting low-carbon growth in Belarusian cities.


Tag: Emission Reduction Energy Environment Policy Urban

23.

SECAPs and GUDPs: Under the Covenant of Mayors, what were SEAPs at the time of project design are now SECAPs, with climate change adaptation/ resilience added to the original content of energy efficiency and renewable energy. There are now two other organizations preparing SECAPs for Belarusian cities that become signatories to the Covenant of Mayors. These are Ecoparntership, which has a total of 13 completed or pipeline SECAPS, and Interaction, which has about 10. Green Cities, in addition to its three SECAPs being prepared for the pilot cities (for which the energy portions are now complete), has recently held a competition and, of eight or nine applicants, selected five for which the project would prepare SECAPs. The energy portion of four out of five of these promised replication SECAPs has already been prepared. A question that comes immediately to mind is why, given the strong entry of two other players into the field of SECAPs, did the project not shift its replication activity and focus more on GUDPs or SUMPs. The project is the only one working on GUDPs (aside from the work by EBRD in Minsk); and only Polotsk of Belarusian cities has a SUMP. There may be some different factors in the project’s decision to go ahead and do five more SECAPs. For one thing, SECAPs focus more squarely on energy efficiency and renewable energy, areas directly related to the project’s climate change mitigation role, whereas the project’s GUDPs are broader. Second, while the SECAP field suddenly became more “crowded,” cities joining the Covenant of Mayors commit to developing a SECAP within two years of joining. And, the number of Belarusian Cities joining ballooned from around ten in 2016 to about 45 at present.


Tag: Climate Change Adaptation Environment Policy Civic Engagement Local Governance Programme/Project Design

24.

Financing of Measures: As noted, lack of financing for implementation of measures proposed in SECAPs, GUDPs, and SUMPs is of great concern. Without financing, much of what the project is promoting will end up as dusty documents on a shelf. The project recognized this with its financing study, a positive example of adaptive management, given that financing activities were not included in the project document. This first activity will be followed by an identification of potential financing sources, including debt and equity financing, trying to broaden the narrow focus of Belarusian cities competing in a crowded field for a limited number of European grants. Finally, something highly recommended by the MTR team and already initiated by the project team is support of cities in finding funding for specific priority measures. Recommendations for this work are included elsewhere, though here we reiterate that it should be very active support, including reaching out to potential financiers, holding meetings, etc., and that it could well be expanded from the three pilot cities to include the ten replication cities as well.


Tag: Resource mobilization Risk Management Sustainability

25.

Replication Mechanism: While the ProDoc mentions a replication mechanism, it is somewhat vague about its nature. The PIF had indicated the mechanism would be a GUD association, but this is not mentioned in the ProDoc, which instead mentions a “designated government agency” as the replication mechanism. It was envisioned that this agency would assist in preparation of the ten additional SEAPs/ GUDPs targeted under this outcome, though this has not been the case. The ProDoc also mentions the project website in its discussion of the replication mechanism. Thus far, we understand that the project is not planning to set up an association and is not optimistic that the website will be adopted by a government agency and serve a role in replication. And, it does not seem any agency is targeted to assist in preparation of the ten additional plans. Indeed, what may be most important at this point is for the project to prepare additional GUDPs and prove their merit before attempting to secure an institutional home for replication. For now, the idea has been raised that the tool for preparing SECAPs (a draft of which for the energy portion of SECAPs is ready) and the tool for preparing GUDPs (still to be done) may be considered part of a replication mechanism.


Tag: Urban Project and Programme management Quality Assurance Sustainability

26.

8. Implementation Project Timeline and Extension: Milestones in the project timeline are shown below. The project suffered substantial delay between ProDoc approval in June 2015 and project registration in October 2016, after which hiring of the project team could begin. Project registration with the Government is a required step for all technical assistance projects in Belarus. And, the registration process can only begin once the ProDoc is cleared by the GEF. While the time needed for project registration varies, it is typical to have this magnitude of delay in UNDP-GEF projects in Belarus. A second challenge is that the first project manager left the post after just a few months on the job, due to finding a more attractive position. The current project manager was hired in May 2017 and the inception workshop held in July 2017, one year and seven months prior to the MTR mission. If the project were to close on schedule, the terminal evaluation (TE) of this five-year project would be conducted just 3.25 years after the inception workshop.


Tag: Implementation Modality Project and Programme management Emission Reduction Environment Policy Challenges Global Environment Facility fund

27.

8. Implementation Project Timeline and Extension: Milestones in the project timeline are shown below. The project suffered substantial delay between ProDoc approval in June 2015 and project registration in October 2016, after which hiring of the project team could begin. Project registration with the Government is a required step for all technical assistance projects in Belarus. And, the registration process can only begin once the ProDoc is cleared by the GEF. While the time needed for project registration varies, it is typical to have this magnitude of delay in UNDP-GEF projects in Belarus. A second challenge is that the first project manager left the post after just a few months on the job, due to finding a more attractive position. The current project manager was hired in May 2017 and the inception workshop held in July 2017, one year and seven months prior to the MTR mission. If the project were to close on schedule, the terminal evaluation (TE) of this five-year project would be conducted just 3.25 years after the inception workshop.


Tag: Emission Reduction Environment Policy Challenges Global Environment Facility fund Implementation Modality Project and Programme management

28.

Project Management: Green Cities’ project management is quite strong. As noted, the MTR team sees a high level of dedication and capability in the project team, as evidenced via the large amount of project work completed in the one year seven months between the inception workshop and MTR mission, the strong communications as praised by stakeholders, the conceptual mastery of a complex project, and proactiveness in addressing issues and opportunities as they arise. The key suggestion regarding project management is, as noted, that there be a shift from a mostly activity/output based approach to an outcome/impact based approach. That is, the team should clearly identify the higher level impacts the project targets to achieve and adjust or, even redesign, activities and outputs as needed. The team should realize that certain activities in the ProDoc may be dropped if no longer relevant or of low priority compared to what is needed to be done to strive for desired project impacts. Another issue that has been noted is that carrying out the SUT feasibility studies prior to preparing the ISUMP may be considered out of sequence. The ISUMP, informed by its survey, was to present the overall strategy of what should be done, with the feasibility studies later providing the details. Yet, as has also been noted, the challenges encountered in reaching city agreement on truly integrated public transport/car related activities suggest that the sequencing may make sense after all, with the feasibility studies and demos focusing on individual initiatives for each city, while the ISUMP presents a longer-term plan for integration.


Tag: Environment Policy Urban Human and Financial resources Programme/Project Design Project and Programme management

29.

M&E: Also attesting to the strength of project management, M&E has been strong. The MTR team is particularly impressed by the level of detail provided in the Annual Project Progress Reports, by additional tools such as Monitoring Logs and Lessons Learned Logs, and by the updating of the risk and issues logs. These strengths are believed to be due to UNDP Belarus’ special, enhanced M&E procedures.


Tag: Monitoring and Evaluation

30.

UNDP: The project is extremely well-suited to UNDP’s comparative advantage; and UNDP has provided strong, expert support to the project. UNDP is known for its comparative advantage in the policy, planning, and capacity building areas, for its strong attention to country needs and understanding the real country situation in working towards results, and for piloting innovative approaches that can later be taken up and replicated on large scale. For a project that aims to build capacity in cities, introduce new types of urban plans (GUDP, SUMP, and SECAP), and enhance the national urban planning process, UNDP’s comparative advantages are important. The MTR team finds that UNDP has thus far provided the project with both administrative support and expert advising on content as needed. In addition, the project has benefited from the network of other UNDP projects and especially from exchange with the UNDP-GEF Batumi Green Cities Project in Georgia, which is also carrying out SUT demos. As the project moves forward and, hopefully, begins to focus more on higher level impacts, UNDP can provide additional backing, such as in pursuing a high-level government order for cross-ministerial action on urban planning


Tag: Environment Policy Local Governance Project and Programme management UNDP Accelerator Lab Capacity Building

31.

Implementing Partner: The project benefits from an enthusiastic and supportive IP, which will play an important role in the project’s success. So far, MNREP has pushed, on a policy level, for inclusion in the National Green Economy Action Plan of the requirement that Brest prepare a symbio plan. Further, MNREP has achieved, as recommended by the project, inclusion of cities as an object of sustainable development in the new version of the Concept of the National Strategy of Sustainable Development, including text that calls for “introduction of the principles and methods of green urban development.” It is also likely to push for more detailed content on GUD, as will be recommended by the project, to be included in the new version of the National Strategy of Sustainable Development, a draft of which is to be issued soon. As the project moves forward and, hopefully, begins to focus more on higher level impacts, MNREP can work with UNDP to provide additional backing, such as in pursuing a high-level government order for cross-ministerial action on bringing GUDP into the urban planning process. This may occur after the project has produced a solid set of eight high quality GUDPs, with strong involvement and buy-in from city stakeholders.


Tag: Environment Policy Urban Local Governance Implementation Modality Partnership

32.

Project Governance: Project Board meetings have been less content-rich and less frequent than might be desired. While the project design targets a minimum of two board meetings per year, in practice only one “live” board meeting per year has been achieved, while the other has typically been an “email vote” meeting. It is hoped that the project, by pursuing a more focused strategy of engaging national level officials, by sharpening its key message to ensure all understand what the project is really about, and by enhancing the understanding of city officials about the aims and strategies of project work, will increase enthusiasm for its project board meetings. It is also hoped that at least two in-person board meetings per year, rich in content and discussion, will be held going forward. To facilitate richer content and more engagement at project board meetings, it is suggested the agenda be designed to discuss some of the higher level impacts that the project aims to achieve and the recommended strategies for achieving them. That is, the Project Board, like the project team, should now move from an activity-output level of thinking to an outcome-impact level of thinking.


Tag: Policies & Procedures Programme/Project Design Project and Programme management

33.

Stakeholder Engagement: The MTR team is impressed with the breadth of the project network as evidenced by the large number and broad range of stakeholders able to speak on the project’s content during the MTR mission. In general, real strengths in stakeholder engagement were found, particularly with regard to GUDP preparation involving city officials and companies. Deficiencies and recommendations with regard to stakeholder engagement have been noted elsewhere in this document. At the national level, a need is seen for a new approach for engaging government stakeholders, particularly MoAC, and for engaging BelNIIP. At the level of municipal officials and companies, positive results in awareness and engagement need to be further enhanced. These stakeholders need a better understanding, for example, of how low-cost measures in SUT can be effective, the benefits of the plans promoted, etc. And, they should be involved not only in GUDP preparation, but also in the ISUMP and SECAP processes. And, the project should move forward with engaging local citizens in preparation of the GUDPs and other plans. Already, the project has taken a great step forward from business-as-usual in closely involving city officials and companies in GUDP preparation. Making two such great steps forward by involving both city officials and residents may be quite a challenging aim for one project, but should be pursued. In this, the project may wish to look at the methodologies of others in participatory urban design21 and/or cooperate with partners to achieve citizen involvement. Since the time of the MTR mission, the project has planned citizen hearings on the GUDPs in the three pilot cities, which is in line with the recommendations of bringing citizens into the process of preparing the plans promoted by the project.


Tag: Urban Anti-corruption Local Governance Partnership Awareness raising Women and gilrs

34.

Cooperation with Other Projects: The project has done well in cooperating with the NGOs EcoPartnership and Interaction with regard to their Covenant of Mayors projects and related SECAP work. The three projects coordinate to ensure that they each support different cities in SECAP preparation. Green Cities has also cooperated with a number of other projects and entities in holding conferences. Further, the project has engaged with the Global Platform for Sustainable Cities (GPSC), led by the World Bank, which is a forum for knowledge sharing and partnership on urban sustainability supported by the GEF. The PM attended a GPSC conference in India. Going forward, as it refines its GUDP approach and begins to pursue financing for city initiatives in the plans, the project should consider stepped up involvement with GPSC. This might be in the area of harmonizing its GUDP indicators and method with that of the Platform and in getting advice on and introductions for financing channels. Green Cities may also want to see if there is room to cooperate with other projects in terms of the higher level impacts this report has recommended it pursue. For example, the new EU project Support to effective air emissions and radiation monitoring and improved environmental management in Belarus aims to influence traffic policy and thus may have synergies with Green Cities work in this area.


Tag: Emission Reduction Environment Policy Urban Partnership Programme Synergy Coordination

35.

9. Design and Indicators Project Design: The project design receives high marks for being innovative, relevant and needed, in line with national priorities, and presenting the potential of especially high and meaningful impact. These aspects of the design are covered in Section 3 (Project Overall). Perhaps the main issue noted with regard to project design is that the project proposes specific SUT measures for the demos, while at the same time calling for an ISUMP and public transport feasibility studies. Ideally, the specific measures would emerge from this planning and feasibility study work. Yet, it is also recognized that such an open design in UNDP-GEF projects can be problematic and that is likely why it was decided to design possible demos to be included in the project rather than wait for them to emerge from the plans. On another design topic, in retrospect, the project may have included activities to encourage implementation of initiatives in the plans, so that they don’t just “sit on the shelf.” In this regard, while maintaining its current elements (the plans, the demos, and the replication), the project might have added a financing component, such as the team by adaptive management is now planning to implement.


Tag: Innovation Programme/Project Design Project and Programme management Risk Management Coordination

36.

Project indicators: The project indicators are generally well-designed, though with experience gained in implementation and evolution of the project, some adjustments are suggested. In particular, the policy/ legislative indicator is now considered too narrow in scope (encompassing only public lighting and urban transport) as it is now clear it will be important for the project also to pursue policy/ legislation related to GUD and perhaps financing. Thus, a broadening of this indicator is suggested. In addition, one of the indicators for Outcome 4 (“number of officers in government who are dedicated to the promotion of urban low carbon growth in Belarusian cities by EOP”) is considered difficult to assess as “dedicated” may be subjective (unless the meaning is “full-time position,” in which case the indicator is unlikely to be achieved). Thus, this indicator might be revised to one that may be objectively measured and is achievable. A sample of how the indicators in the Project Results Framework might be revised is provided in Annex 4. In addition to the two foregoing changes, some changes in indicators for the SUT demos may be needed. Stakeholders explain that the project has found a very high level of public transport use already in Polotsk and Novopolotsk (50 percent) and suggest that the goal will be to maintain that level, as compared to the business as usual scenario in which that level would go down as more and more cars are purchased following trends of past years.


Tag: Urban Civic Engagement Monitoring and Evaluation

37.

10. Expenditures

Expenditures of GEF funds to date: The table below shows expenditures of GEF funds by outcome through the end of 2018. The next to the last column on the right displays percent of ProDoc budget spent. It shows that the demo outcomes are much further from being spent down (at 20.2 percent for Outcome 2 and 13.7 percent for Outcome 3) than are the non-demo outcomes (at 71.5 percent for Outcome 1 and 66 percent for Outcome 4). This is just as would be expected, as the project has finished the majority of its TA work, but has not begun implementing the project demos. The rightmost column shows that the TA portion of the demo outcomes has, indeed, been spent down similarly to the pure TA outcomes (at 65.7 percent for Outcome 2 and 71.3 percent for Outcome 3). Overall, the project budget was 29.5 percent spent at the end of 2018, but, with about USD 300,000 committed in contract to the street lighting demo, the total amount spent or committed was over 39.1 percent at the end of 2018, perhaps roughly 40 percent. Based on these figures, it is concluded that the project has properly reserved funds for the project demos and, at the same time, has made good progress in moving its other funds.


Tag: Efficiency Global Environment Facility fund Human and Financial resources Sustainability

38.

Expenditures by type of activity: Annex 13 provides expenditure analysis tables. The first set shows realized expenditures and committed expenditures as of April 10, 2019 by “aggregated activities,” which are defined as major activities or major activity area. The template was prepared by the MTR team and the aggregated information provided by the PIU. The line items allow for easy assessment of major expenditure levels and cost areas. Expenditures to date and committed for various types of reports are $66,228, though the cost level of most reports is not that high (e.g. less than $10,000). As for the plans, the ISUMP is clearly the most expensive (at $90,369). At this level, it is expected that the final product will go far beyond the draft that has been delivered so far, though the work also included a survey of companies. The total spent for GUDPs was $40,911 for 3, or $13,637 per GUDP. The SECAPs are much cheaper, probably because less consultation was involved, with total expenditures or commitments at $14,939, or $1,867 per SECAP. The cost level of the transport feasibility studies is relatively high, while that of the EE feasibilities studies is low. The bicycle feasibility study was $36,406 and the public transport one, which included annexes on bus stops and bus routes, was $54,409, while the lighting one was $9,223 and the smart meter one $6,187. Total spending on workshops and European Mobility Week was $83,547. Spending on study tours was $144,208. Spending on PIU staff was $252,661. The amount spent or committed for the lighting demo is $310,000. While the other demos are less advanced, preliminary projections (as shown in the last part of the annex for the case that the project has 1.5 more ears remaining) are that the bicycle trail demo will cost about $418,000, about $652,000 will be spent on the public transport/ private car demos, and $98,000 will be spent on the smart meter demo.


Tag: Human and Financial resources Operational Efficiency

39.

GEF budget remaining vis-à-vis extension: The last part of Annex 13 provides projections of how additional funds will be spent over the next 1.5 years to project close if the project does not have an extension (projections provided by the PIU) and over the next 3 years to project close if the project does have an extension (projections extrapolated by the MTR team). The projections for 1.5 years to project close suggest the GEF funds will be easily spent over that time period, assuming the demos can be achieved on time. This raises the question of whether there would be sufficient funds to finance an effective extension, which would require funds for project team (including expert) salaries, as well as some funds for outside consultants, so that recommended activities can be carried out. For the no extension case, projections show demo funds being about 11% below their level in the CER. If funds for another 1.5 years support of the project team and PIU experts are taken from the demo funds, it will increase the amount by which the demo funds are reduced to a total of 24% their level in the CER


Tag: Global Environment Facility fund Human and Financial resources Sustainability

40.

Co-financing expenditures: The table below shows realized co-financing amounts reported, co-financing amounts committed (as in CER), and proportion of committed funds realized and reported. Stakeholders explained that the largest area of committed co-financing, that from the pilot cities, is not expected to go towards the same activities as GEF funds, but will instead support “parallel activities.” This was explained to be official government policy for donor projects in Belarus. During consultations, the MTR team learned of a case in which the government did allow co-financing to go toward specific donor activities, but in this case the amount was a small percentage of the total (10 percent co-financing, 90 percent donor funding), whereas in the case of GEF projects the co-financing is required to be substantially larger than the GEF funds. The MTR team asked for information on the activities on which realized co-financing amounts have been spent. While this information has not yet been received, we understand that MNREP has requested it from the cities. Without such information, it is difficult to assess the quality of the co-financing. As noted earlier, the MTR team believes the SUT demos will be much more impactful if the cities can carry out their own low cost activities as part of the demo package. In addition, other relevant activities the cities carry out, if appropriate, should be included as part of that demo package.


Tag: Global Environment Facility fund Resource mobilization Local Governance

41.

11. Sustainability

The MTR team sees major risks to the sustainability of project results. Sustainability issues and possible ways to address them have been emphasized throughout this report. Thus, the main contribution of this section will be to organize brief summarizes of sustainability risks into key categories. Financial Risk: It is quite likely that financial resources will not be available to sustain project results once the project ends. That is, it is unlikely that the cities will have funds to initiate GUDP, SECAP, and SUMP initiatives. And, it is unlikely that there will be funding to prepare more of these plans, unless additional donors come along to fund them. Thus, the MTR team has recommended the project do work to assist cities in identifying funding sources and in actually securing funding, both of which the project, in fact, had already planned to do prior to the MTR mission. The MTR team has also recommended that the project do work to get GUDP and SUMP incorporated into the urban planning process at the national level. If this is achieved, state funds for urban planning may cover GUD and SUT planning work in the future, or at least will cover its incorporation into the MP and Transport Annex preparation processes.


Tag: Sustainability National Local Governance Human and Financial resources Sustainability Awareness raising

Recommendations
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1. Shift from output-oriented approach (e.g. reports, plans, conferences) of first phase of project to full focus on long-lasting, sustainable, and impactful results (policy adoption, change in planning process, securing of financing for priority projects in the plans, additional mindset change, realization of meaningful, GHG-reducing demos that, together with priority projects in plans, achieve 91,100 ton CO2e direct ER target). This is an overall recommendation supported by several of the recommendations below, but is important in and of itself for: (a) setting the overall vision to shift the nature of activities undertaken from early-stage document preparation and conferences to activities more directly linked to achievement of sustainable results and (b) requiring a clear plan for achieving the GHG direct ER target.

Elaboration: The recommendation is supported by other recommendations on policy adoption, changing the urban planning process, securing financing for priority projects, promoting deeper mindset change of local officials, and refining the project demos. It is, however, distinct in calling for cross-cutting project management actions (e.g. revision of log frame and indicators) and preparation of realistic GHG ER strategy to achieve the 91,100 ton CO2e direct ER target. The recommendation should be achieved via adaptive management, which allows changes, deletions, and replacements of original project outputs and activities in favor of revised ones focused on achieving project outcomes and higher level impacts. As a general rule of thumb, in the revised activities for the project going forward, report preparation/ holding of workshops should be stopped or reduced to a minimum. These have provided a good basis of information that the project is now able to distill into key recommendations. Evidence: The main activities of the project to date have been preparation of reports and plans and holding of conferences. The project is said to be holding ten or more events per year. Reports, plans, and feasibility study documents (not including project management documents) number around 60. Of these, over ten are over 90 pages. The project is to be applauded for meeting its target of three policies being adopted/ revised with project input, though one is attributed to work during the project design stage. To have the transformative impact on urban planning, urban transport, and urban EE that the project hopes to achieve, several more policy adoptions need to be achieved, yet progress towards most of these is limited. Installation of the demos has not begun. Most cities are unclear how, aside from the project demos, initiatives in the project-supported plans will be financed, though the project has begun via adaptive management to address financing issues. Residents of cities have not been substantially engaged in plan preparation, though post-MTR mission, plans for public hearings were begun to be made. Stakeholders see no significant change in master plan preparation process for small/medium cities and are not optimistic change will come.

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2. Apply for extension of up to 18 months, contingent on plan/ reallocation of budget so it is available over extended period to focus on achievement of aforementioned long-lasting and impactful results. In addition to providing needed time to monitor the demos, justification will be: opportunity to achieve more policy successes (likely exceeding targets), to impact the planning process, to assist cities in obtaining financing for priority projects (a new target added through adaptive management), and to achieve the political will for more impactful SUT demos; additional time needed to ensure GHG direct ERs of 91,100 tons CO2e targeted are achieved through demos combined with other priority projects.

Elaboration: Before applying for extension, project should have clear plan and budget reallocation to ensure high-impact results referenced in recommendation 1. Budget should allow for retaining of experts throughout project duration to promote policy change to policy makers/ change in planning approach to planners and to assist cities in preparing priority projects and securing financing. Reallocation may require a reduction in investment amounts for project demos. While this is not typically encouraged, in the case of the SUT demos, findings suggest the most impactful demos are those that are lower cost, but that require political will to achieve (e.g. bus lanes, restrictions on driving of private cars, parking restrictions or parking fees, etc.). Thus, more funds for TA (to convince local officials to adopt such measures and to ensure local residents are on board) and less for investment may make sense in this case. According to current budget plans (if the project were to end on schedule, with TE in about 1.5 years), about 11% of demo investment funds will be spent on TA instead. If project is extended an additional 1.5 years, leaving three years to the TE, then about 24% of demo investment funds may be spent on TA instead. Justification: Project is poised for potential very high impact – to incorporate environmental concerns and people-centeredness into the nation’s urban planning process - but needs more time to achieve this. Evidence of potential is that, influenced by project preparation, requirement for Brest to prepare a “symbio plan” was included in nation’s Green Economy Action Plan in 2016; and, in 2018, BelNIIP was required to annex that plan to Brest’s Master Plan. Also, project has the potential to expand impact, leveraging outside investment, if it has time to pursue financing for cities so that SECAPs, GUDPs, and SUMP don’t just “sit on the shelf.” Results of project’s financing study show financing of city “green” projects is indeed very challenging, so that support in pursuing financing is needed. And, the project is unlikely to meet its CO2 GHG DER target without these additional pilots. Further, after showing a lack of promise during the MTR mission, the SUT demo efforts have finally begun to show good successes, with Polotsk recently committing to 4 km of experimental bus lanes and likely time-ofday based private car driving restrictions in city center, showing that time and diligence on the part of the project can result in more impactful demos. Lastly, given one-year delay in start, extension is needed to monitor and assess demo results.

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3. Pursue a set of meaningful national-level policy achievements (namely, the adoption or revision of national strategies, standards, acts, resolutions, policies, action plans, and/ or regulations to promote GUD, city EE, and SUT). Adopt a new and targeted approach to do so, with face-to-face one-on-one “briefings” of officials as centerpiece.

Elaboration: The new approach will: (i) have as its main method high-level briefings (brief, 15 to 20 minute, one-on-one meetings) of relevant national officials in which an expert and person skilled in delivering very succinct to-the-point briefings educate and exchange with the policy maker on policy recommendations, key findings/ results of project studies and plans, approach of GUD, SUT/SUMP, and urban EE/SECAP, etc.; (ii) include preparation of “digested” versions of key project reports, typically just one or two pages, along with, for each meeting, a written one or two page summary of the same briefing content that will be delivered live; (iii) concurrently pursue policy achievement and shift in mindset. The project will have roughly 11 policy targets beyond what has been achieved already, as detailed in the footnote associated with this sentence. 22 Given the challenge of achieving policy adoption, the project certainly won’t be expected to achieve all of 11 these targets, but can pursue all of them in hopes of getting some of them, perhaps 3 to 5, adopted during the lifetime of the project and setting the stage for several of the others to be adopted after project close. Already, the project has achieved three policy successes/ adoptions (with four targeted in original design), so these additional 11 targets fit with an ambitious approach in pursuing higher level project impacts. It may also include, pending support of UNDP CO and MNREP, a carefully crafted letter to Head of Presidential Administration, formerly mayor of Novopolotsk during project preparation, in pursuit of an executive order to make the issue of GU Planning important, so that some action is taken.23 Project may also consider working with certain think tanks and NGOs that are influential in affecting national level thinking on policy (namely via their thought pieces) to convey its key messages to policy makers. Evidence: Key policy makers are not attending project events or reading project reports. They conveyed to the MTR team that they are very busy, particularly due to reductions in staffing. Some think GUD is just about “green areas” (trees/ grasses) in cities. Stakeholders experienced in interacting with government officials in Belarus convey: (i) While officials themselves draft policy, they may refer to respected outside documents for support. (ii) Certain officials are quite serious and will appreciate briefing input if of high quality – they may not see benefit in attending conferences, but respond well to “ad hoc” meetings. Stakeholders agree an executive order is the best way to bring GU Planning to the forefront/ achieve cross-ministerial attention and, while a long-shot, worth a try. Influence of the Head of the Presidential Administration is widely recognized. Her role in Novopolotsk during project design may be a positive if plans for the public transport/ car aspects of demo are made bolder/ more compelling. Experienced stakeholders indicate certain highly respected think tanks

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4. Adopt new and targeted approach to influence the city planning process. Engage BelNIIP, and potentially other state and private sector urban planners (e.g. MinskGrado, Level80, etc.), in one-onone meetings with project experts and in planning process/ policy related assignment, if possible. Bring the “clients” (MoAC and city executive committees) into the process once progress is made with the planners. Pursue other channels, such as standards and traffic authorities, to influence city planning process

Elaboration: A. Small meetings between BelNIIP and project experts will focus on GUDPs and SUMP, with BelNIIP feedback on how these could be useful to master plan process. BelNIIP may be concerned that GUDPs are too general, but has not seen any yet. BelNIIP is working on draft Architectural, Urban Planning, and Construction Code and next year (2020) will prepare draft National Urban Development Policy - new ideas/ insights, measures, etc. from the project might be useful input. Innovative private urban design firm might be included in some small group discussions with BelNIIP. B. In the past, BelNIIP could not participate in bids for project assignments, because UNDP contract norms do not fit with requirements of certain type of state organizations. It's not clear if these problems can be overcome. If so, areas of possible contract work to discuss are: (1) integration of GUDP with the master plan process and (2) draft national legislation to promote GUDP. C. MoAC and city executive committees, as the “clients” of the MP preparation process, can also influence desired changes in the process. They should be consulted and their views and ideas incorporated into the discussion with the planners. These consultation with the “clients” can be integrated with other activities. In the case of MoAC, policy briefings under the Action Plan for Recommendation 3 can and should include, in additions to discussions about targeted policies, discussions on the planning process. Work with city executive committees in executing pilots, preparing plans, and getting priority projects financed will also be an opportunity for incorporating discussions of the planning process, seeking their views to share with the planners, and encouraging them as customers also to independently seek improvement of the process. D. Other avenues to influence the city planning process include pursuit of establishment of urban planning standards by the standards authority, pursuit of support of Traffic Police (who have approval authority of transport aspects of city plans), and pursuit of relevant policies (see recommendation 3). Project is pursuing many of these; and should fashion them into a coherent strategy to influence the urban planning process.Evidence: A/B. BelNIIP has not been attending project events. While many SECAP, SUMP, and GUDP measures that do not involve “pouring concrete” would not require revision of general plan, most stakeholders concur that BelNIIP, as the entity responsible for all city master plans in Belarus except Mink’s, needs to be engaged in order to find a way to integrate the GUDP and SUMP process with the master plan and transport annex process. The MTR team found substantial criticism of BelNIIP in the urban planning sector, possibly making public events to discuss new approaches unattractive/ unconstructive to BelNIIP. BelNIIP’s role in drafting key urban planning policies is also important to project’s aim. C. MoAC’s input can be very influential in terms of efforts to change the urban planning process, as they are the organization that orders the master plans prepared by BelNIIP, so are a key client. The city executive committees can be considered a client or the end user for whom the plans are prepared. Bottom up push from the cities is believed by stakeholders to be part of an effective mechanism for influencing the master planning process. D. Some of the alternative avenues have already been seen to have an influence. The Traffic Police, for example, did not approve a certain master plan prepared by BelNIIP until the transport section was improved.

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5. Building on recently launched financing support work, put substantial focus on assisting cities to prepare and secure financing for specific priority projects in the plans that have been prepared.

Elaboration: This will be a key shift in the project’s focus from preparing plans, which may be at risk of “sitting on the shelf,” to actively helping cities get priority projects realized. The team has already launched this kind of “securing financing” support to one additional project in each pilot city (for a total of 3 projects). The project may wish to extend this support to its 5 other SECAP and 5 other GUDP partners (including Brest). This will diversify risk, allow the project to present options and/or packages to various financiers, and expand chances of success. Focus should be on projects that reduce GHG emissions so that the project will meet or exceed its target of 91,100 tons CO2e of direct GHG ERs. For Novopolotsk tram extension, an assessment of life cycle costs/benefits as compared to other options should be carried out before putting substantial effort into proposal.24 Support should be very proactive. Involved experts should actively reach out to funding institutions including EBRD, BDB, Chinese loans, other banks and donors, as well as sources associated with the state budget, and assist cities in holding meetings and negotiating with these parties. Since the time of the MTR mission, the project team has already held fruitful discussions with EBRD, which could be continued as the project proposals are prepared. The aim to achieve financing of such projects is very challenging, because cities in Belarus depend mainly on state funding and do not have much of their own revenue sources with which to repay loans. Yet, it is clearly a missing link, and any progress the project can make in this area will be valuable. Evidence: Most cities consulted were unclear how, aside from the project demos, initiatives in the project-supported plans will be financed. Results of project-supported financing study show how challenging financing is. At same time, city officials’ lack of experience and connections suggest that project support can make a difference in getting their projects visibility with potential financiers.

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Recommendation 6. Revise approach for Polotsk/Novopolotsk demos building on recent, post-MTR mission progress in Polotsk: (i) reconsider selection of key measures, with emphasis on achieving longterm GHG ERs and making sure that the project targets, including direct ERs of 91,100 tonnes of CO2e, are met; (ii) engage city executives and coordinating committees frequently with project experts so they understand demo goals, budget, and efficacy of various options; (iii) convince cities to adopt low-cost, high efficacy measures as part of demo “package.” (See 9iii.)

Elaboration: Project should aim for a package of measures, including both those financed by the project and low-cost measures adopted concurrently by the cities.25 The measures should be those that do the most to reduce GHGs/ local emissions and enhance mobility, making sure that the project’s CO2e targets are met. Cost effectiveness should be considered. For bicycles, in addition to 3 km of paved, separate trail, the project should continue to encourage the cities to adopt as much of the proposed 30 km of bicycle lanes on roads as possible, as these are likely to achieve more GHG ERs than the separate trail, and to keep bump barriers for bicycle lanes in place year-round. A low-cost investment of around USD20,000 - 40,000 might be used to equip city with bike racks, institute pilot courtyard bike storage or storage where trash chute in buildings used to be, and (if needed) provide bike racks to buses. While the bicycle work is symbolically quite positive, stakeholders should be presented with the evidence that high impact public transport/ private car measures have the potential for much greater GHG ERs and improvement in local air quality/ reduction in congestion, but that measures must be selected strategically.26 They should also be presented with the evidence that lowcost measures are often among the most effective in achieving such results. After the MTR mission, the project achieved very notable success in that its Traffic Management Study for Polotsk convinced the Polotsk Executive Committee to agree to adopt 4 km of bus lanes (with barriers) in city center as an experiment, likely to be accompanied by driving restrictions for private cars in city center at certain times of day. These will be the first real bus lanes in Belarus. (Efforts in Minsk did not include barriers, were not continuous, and did not really deter cars from entering bus lanes.) It is recommended that the project build on these initial successes in Polotsk to encourage the adoption of more such measures and to ensure the Polotsk experimental bus lanes are successful and adopted for the long run. For public transport in Novopolotsk, strong effort should be put on convincing Novopolotsk to institute test bus lane of up to 3 km on Molodezhnaya St. and parking ban on other parts of the bus/tram corridor approved for further action in 2015.27 Benefits of improvement of bus stops and provision of signboards with bus arrival times (currently targeted to be among the main expenditure areas of the SUT demos) should be compared to options that speed up buses or make cars less attractive. If it is still decided to improve bus stops, the question of whether an incremental addition to 20 or more bus stops will be more impactful than full renovation of 5 may be considered. Contentious issue of whether synchronized traffic lights can benefit buses or simply serve to increase cars should be carefully assessed. If adopted, synchronized traffic lights should focus on improving flow of large capacity buses, rather than catering to private cars. (Recent developments indicate agreement to keep the “ideal speed” for the synchronized traffic lights to a speed suitable to large capacity buses.) To reduce private cars, other measures, such as parking restriction, parking fees (with concurrent work under recommendation 3 on parking policy), and roads that do not allow cars, should be promoted. Innovative low cost measures, such as lagging work times at the refinery to reduce congestion, should also be considered. To ensure city executives and coordinating committees understand the goals, budget, and efficacy of various options, project transport experts should become more closely engaged in advising the cities and facilitating their meetings at which the measures will be decided upon.Evidence: The MTR team found during the MTR mission that selection of measures is currently not following an orderly process that emphasizes long term GHG ERs/ local air quality benefit. The controversy on the synchronized traffic lights (of whether they will benefit buses or instead simply increase cars) is a serious one that has not been worked through, though recent feedback from the project team suggests a lower ideal speed for the traffic lights will favor buses for the “green wave.” The pilot bus lane in Novopolotsk, considered by designers to be a critical measure for public transport, does not appear to be going forward. Yet, just recently, a month or two after the MTR mission, Polotsk has agreed to a 4 km experimental bus lane with barriers, which is a very promising development, the sort of thing the project should pursue more of. At the time of the mission, it seemed that most stakeholders were not very enthusiastic about the public transport measures that were at the time the main ones being considered (improved bus stops and signboards), perhaps because their impact on bus ridership is uncertain. The new bus lane initiative in Polotsk is likely to be generating more excitement now that it has been raised and is approved. The project supported a traffic management study for Polotsk to support the need to understand how to reroute traffic for its upcoming, temporary bridge closure. The MTR team questioned the long-term benefit and suitability of reallocating infrastructure funds for a study, but recently learned it is this study that convinced Polotsk to test a 4 km experimental bus lane with barriers and potentially private car restrictions (based on time of day) in city center. It may be a lesson learned that neither the public transport feasibility study nor the ISUMP seemed to have much influence in convincing Polotsk to take such actions, while the detailed design of the Traffic Management Study did. Experts generally agree that in addition to improving public transport, there needs to be a push, making cars less attractive through parking fees or driving restrictions, to get people to choose public transport over cars. Thus, it is encouraging that Polotsk is considering private car restrictions, though more are needed, including in Novopolotsk. Coordinating committees do not seem to have clear goals (such as GHG ERs, improvement of local air quality, reduction of congestion). They have not been empowered with an understanding of the budget available, so are providing input to decision makers without full understanding of the situation.

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7. Before moving forward with smart meter demo, clearly identify and confirm specific means and amount of energy savings and GHG ERs (current preliminary estimate is just 252 tons CO2 direct ERs). Adjust demo plans accordingly to maximize savings and GHG ERs. Clarify to all involved.

Elaboration: It is agreed that adding meters for heating (whether smart or not smart) where there were none before will save energy. Yet, the source of expected energy savings from replacing regular meters for electricity, water, and gas with smart meters needs to be clearly explained. One explanation is that data collected by utilities from smart meters can lead to identification and reduction of line losses. Whether this will be the case with the proposed demo needs to be verified specifically. If utility action will be a main source of savings, it should be confirmed that the utilities indeed will be following up as needed to achieve the savings. If the smart meters will not lead to energy savings, alternatives (such as a focus on heating meters only) might be considered. If it is confirmed that the other smart meters will save energy, how they will do this should be explained to all; and the demos carefully designed so that this targeted smart meter savings is indeed achieved. Preliminary estimates for the total lifetime direct CO2 ERs for the smart meter demo are 252 tons CO2. This is much less than the 10,190 tons lifetime direct CO2 ERs estimated for the laundry demo, which the smart meter demo is to replace. Evidence: The MTR team found that, aside from the benefit of metering heating (where there were no meters before), the source of energy saving via smart meters is not well understood by stakeholders in Novogrudok. Internationally, the evidence/ experience of smart meters resulting in energy savings (as compared to regular meters) is quite mixed. Some residents of demo building are hesitant to agree to participate, probably because the benefit is unclear. After the MTR mission, estimates of the proposed smart meter demo’s GHG ERs were provided. Yet, the mechanism of these ERs (aside from those of providing heating meters where there were none before) have not yet been clarified.

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8. Develop clear means of communicating main aim of the project (e.g. “to incorporate environmental sustainability and people-centeredness in city planning and ensure priority projects are implemented”) and ensure all stakeholders understand from the start. Eliminate confusion that “green planning” is just about “green areas” or that project is just very generally addressing the SDGs

as that described above) that can be considered to unify its many activities. This main aim should be used to test the relevance of activities and refine them as needed. Efforts should be made to ensure that all stakeholders understand this main aim of the project, which should be introduced early in the conversation and reiterated throughout. Specific measures should be taken to clear up confusion that the project is just generally about the SDGs or that “green planning” is only about “green areas,” Evidence: Both government officials and NGO stakeholders consulted confused GUDP with “green area” work. Project includes 7 SDGs on letterhead. Project design is complex with three different types of plans and demos related to bicycles, public transport, city lighting, and apartment metering.

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9. Increase focus of city official mindset change work, ensuring they understand: (i) why they need a plan rather than just measures; (ii) goals of measures; (iii) how low cost measures, such as those in transport can save money and be more effective than new infrastructure; (iv) how GUD and SUMPs should be promoted as TORs for Master Plan and its Transport Annex. Further leverage President’s Academy of Public Administration and leverage official government site visits for heads of regions, districts, and cities.

Elaboration: Good progress has been made in city official mindset work, but gaps remain. Mindset efforts focused on the four items above should be carried out continuously with demo cities and other cities project supports in preparing SECAPs/ GUDPs. A course on GUD might be designed for and held at the President’s Academy,28 if it can be ensured that only officials with real interest will attend. Several times a year, Council of Ministers organizes local officials to carry out site visits, so project should ensure its demos, once operational, are among those visited. To better understand the mindset change initially intended, project team may wish to discuss with original local designers of SUT demos. Evidence: Some officials see SECAPs and GUDPs as mere “packaging” for donors and don’t see underlying benefit of having a strategy or vision. Initial aim of SUT demo was to emphasize benefits of low-cost measures (e.g. bus lanes, parking fees). At the time of the MTR mission, it was found that the cities were no longer planning these. In a positive development, since then, Polotsk is now planning experimentation with bus lanes in city center and possibly private car driving restrictions, but Novopolotsk lacks plans for these kind of measures. While the project has agreement with President’s Academy to share materials, no specific GUD curriculum has been developed and no specific GUD course is planned.

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10. Engage city residents (and, possibly, other non-governmental and commercial stakeholders) in the planning process. Educate them as in item above. Work to achieve simple language in visions/plans that residents can understand. Ensure plans reflect their priorities

Elaboration: Work should be done, especially in the case of GUDPs, to ensure that vision and content of plans reflect priorities of residents. Because there may be some history of a “complaint relationship” between city officials and residents, work may be needed to develop a positive exchange. Project might consider working with NGOs or other initiatives that have experience in positive engagement of local residents, especially those with experience engaging city residents in urban design process. At the time of the MTR mission, citizens had not yet been involved in any way in the process of preparing GUDPs,SECAPs, or the ISUMP, though city officials had been extensively involved. After the MTR mission, the project team began to plan public hearings in pilot cities to discuss the GUDPs and ISUMP, a move that is quite congruent with this recommendation. Evidence: So far, local residents have not been involved in GUDP, SECAP, or SUMP design, though plans for public hearings are encouraging. One source found Brest residents are not aware of main ideas/ content of Symbio City and their main concerns may not be reflected in the plan.

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11. Consider expanding engagement to other key groups: (i) involving private sector designers and students via competition for design of urban blocks/pilot projects; (ii) working with education sector to incorporate GUD in official university urban design curriculum; (iii) leveraging relationship with select influential think tanks and NGOs to promote policy and process change.

Elaboration: A. Involvement of private sector designers and students in a competition for the project’s urban block design could generate new ideas, attract national attention and potentially investment, and provide a positive feedback loop for improving the city’s GUDP. Currently, project is planning urban block design for each of the three pilot cities. It may wish to expand work to its other GUDP cities and especially, given national government attention to the Symbio Plan, Brest. B. Education of future urban designers may be one channel for the project to pursue its aim of changing the urban planning process. Working with department chairs in the field, such as at BNTU, may be a means to achieve curriculum and accreditation change that incorporates GUD. C. Working with influential think tanks and NGOs via their “thought pieces” may be a means to influence policy as targeted in recommendation 3. Evidence: A. So far, private sector designers and students are involved in the project only as consumers of content, not as active participants. Yet, the urban design work of innovative designers, such as Level 80, have attracted Presidential-level attention. B. Nowadays, student urban design projects are of new developments only, rather than improvement of existing urban blocks. C. Experienced stakeholders indicate certain highly respected think tanks/ NGOs influence national-level policy in Belarus through their thought pieces and blogs. So far, project has not engaged such groups as active participants.

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12. Exchange with GEF/WB Global Platform for Sustainable Cities to harmonize indicators and get information on/connections for channels for financing sustainable city initiatives.

Elaboration: Project has worked hard to select GUDP indicators suitable to Belarus. Involvement with the Platform will ensure Belarus follows international best practice in indicators and gets access to information on international sources and methods of financing GUDP measures. Evidence: Platform involves 28 cities in 11 countries and USD 151 million in grants. Platform is funded by GEF and reflects GEF’s interest in promoting international best practice in unified fashion.

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13. Building on plans for preparation in 2019 of a video on the street lighting demo, prepare comprehensive video on all demos and other initiatives for which financing is secured. Video should be quite attractive, such as through use of drones. Also, prepare a lessons learned study and short electronic brochures on the demo projects.

Elaboration: Project Communications Officer has worked hard to avoid “business as usual” in communications; and the same principle should be used to develop an out-of-the-ordinary video covering all demos and other initiatives for which financing is secured and installation achieved during the lifetime of the project. The lessons learned study should be based both on findings from monitoring of the demos and other installed initiatives and earlier experience gained during demo preparation. The project has found that paper brochures no longer catch reader attention, though electronic brochures that succinctly highlight demo results may be prepared and circulated. Evidence: Videos are widely used by content marketers in private sector, suggesting their effectiveness. Project has already faced and overcome challenges, such as getting Polotsk on board with pursuing low cost, high impact SUT measures that may be politically challenging, such as the nation’s first true bus lanes. Thus, lessons on what worked and what didn’t will be valuable.

1. Recommendation:

1. Shift from output-oriented approach (e.g. reports, plans, conferences) of first phase of project to full focus on long-lasting, sustainable, and impactful results (policy adoption, change in planning process, securing of financing for priority projects in the plans, additional mindset change, realization of meaningful, GHG-reducing demos that, together with priority projects in plans, achieve 91,100 ton CO2e direct ER target). This is an overall recommendation supported by several of the recommendations below, but is important in and of itself for: (a) setting the overall vision to shift the nature of activities undertaken from early-stage document preparation and conferences to activities more directly linked to achievement of sustainable results and (b) requiring a clear plan for achieving the GHG direct ER target.

Elaboration: The recommendation is supported by other recommendations on policy adoption, changing the urban planning process, securing financing for priority projects, promoting deeper mindset change of local officials, and refining the project demos. It is, however, distinct in calling for cross-cutting project management actions (e.g. revision of log frame and indicators) and preparation of realistic GHG ER strategy to achieve the 91,100 ton CO2e direct ER target. The recommendation should be achieved via adaptive management, which allows changes, deletions, and replacements of original project outputs and activities in favor of revised ones focused on achieving project outcomes and higher level impacts. As a general rule of thumb, in the revised activities for the project going forward, report preparation/ holding of workshops should be stopped or reduced to a minimum. These have provided a good basis of information that the project is now able to distill into key recommendations. Evidence: The main activities of the project to date have been preparation of reports and plans and holding of conferences. The project is said to be holding ten or more events per year. Reports, plans, and feasibility study documents (not including project management documents) number around 60. Of these, over ten are over 90 pages. The project is to be applauded for meeting its target of three policies being adopted/ revised with project input, though one is attributed to work during the project design stage. To have the transformative impact on urban planning, urban transport, and urban EE that the project hopes to achieve, several more policy adoptions need to be achieved, yet progress towards most of these is limited. Installation of the demos has not begun. Most cities are unclear how, aside from the project demos, initiatives in the project-supported plans will be financed, though the project has begun via adaptive management to address financing issues. Residents of cities have not been substantially engaged in plan preparation, though post-MTR mission, plans for public hearings were begun to be made. Stakeholders see no significant change in master plan preparation process for small/medium cities and are not optimistic change will come.

Management Response: [Added: 2019/09/03] [Last Updated: 2021/02/05]

During the first half of the project implementation period the project team focused mainly on studies related to identification of the current situation in Belarus, capacity building and preparation of feasibility studies and design documentations required for the respective pilots. During the second half, the project will focus on practical implementation of the pilots to reduce green-house gas emissions.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
Prepare the respective ADWP focusing mainly on pilots and other actions with concrete results and long-lasting impact
[Added: 2019/09/03] [Last Updated: 2021/01/04]
UNDP and MoEnv 2020/12 Completed (1) Most of activities of the approved AWP for 2019-2021 are practical ones focusing on implementation of demo projects as well as development of the proposals for the amendment of the national legislation to support the sustainability of the activities of the Project; (2) Project ideas for follow-up actions are developed and related to energy management at the municipal level; ESCO mechanisms, development of green and blue infrastructure for municipalities, green finance and green procurement, open municipality and smart cities; (3) Assessment of GHG direct and indirect emissions is implemented based on results of monitoring of results of pilot initiatives and national-level policies. History
2. Recommendation:

2. Apply for extension of up to 18 months, contingent on plan/ reallocation of budget so it is available over extended period to focus on achievement of aforementioned long-lasting and impactful results. In addition to providing needed time to monitor the demos, justification will be: opportunity to achieve more policy successes (likely exceeding targets), to impact the planning process, to assist cities in obtaining financing for priority projects (a new target added through adaptive management), and to achieve the political will for more impactful SUT demos; additional time needed to ensure GHG direct ERs of 91,100 tons CO2e targeted are achieved through demos combined with other priority projects.

Elaboration: Before applying for extension, project should have clear plan and budget reallocation to ensure high-impact results referenced in recommendation 1. Budget should allow for retaining of experts throughout project duration to promote policy change to policy makers/ change in planning approach to planners and to assist cities in preparing priority projects and securing financing. Reallocation may require a reduction in investment amounts for project demos. While this is not typically encouraged, in the case of the SUT demos, findings suggest the most impactful demos are those that are lower cost, but that require political will to achieve (e.g. bus lanes, restrictions on driving of private cars, parking restrictions or parking fees, etc.). Thus, more funds for TA (to convince local officials to adopt such measures and to ensure local residents are on board) and less for investment may make sense in this case. According to current budget plans (if the project were to end on schedule, with TE in about 1.5 years), about 11% of demo investment funds will be spent on TA instead. If project is extended an additional 1.5 years, leaving three years to the TE, then about 24% of demo investment funds may be spent on TA instead. Justification: Project is poised for potential very high impact – to incorporate environmental concerns and people-centeredness into the nation’s urban planning process - but needs more time to achieve this. Evidence of potential is that, influenced by project preparation, requirement for Brest to prepare a “symbio plan” was included in nation’s Green Economy Action Plan in 2016; and, in 2018, BelNIIP was required to annex that plan to Brest’s Master Plan. Also, project has the potential to expand impact, leveraging outside investment, if it has time to pursue financing for cities so that SECAPs, GUDPs, and SUMP don’t just “sit on the shelf.” Results of project’s financing study show financing of city “green” projects is indeed very challenging, so that support in pursuing financing is needed. And, the project is unlikely to meet its CO2 GHG DER target without these additional pilots. Further, after showing a lack of promise during the MTR mission, the SUT demo efforts have finally begun to show good successes, with Polotsk recently committing to 4 km of experimental bus lanes and likely time-ofday based private car driving restrictions in city center, showing that time and diligence on the part of the project can result in more impactful demos. Lastly, given one-year delay in start, extension is needed to monitor and assess demo results.

Management Response: [Added: 2021/02/05]

Key Actions:

3. Recommendation:

3. Pursue a set of meaningful national-level policy achievements (namely, the adoption or revision of national strategies, standards, acts, resolutions, policies, action plans, and/ or regulations to promote GUD, city EE, and SUT). Adopt a new and targeted approach to do so, with face-to-face one-on-one “briefings” of officials as centerpiece.

Elaboration: The new approach will: (i) have as its main method high-level briefings (brief, 15 to 20 minute, one-on-one meetings) of relevant national officials in which an expert and person skilled in delivering very succinct to-the-point briefings educate and exchange with the policy maker on policy recommendations, key findings/ results of project studies and plans, approach of GUD, SUT/SUMP, and urban EE/SECAP, etc.; (ii) include preparation of “digested” versions of key project reports, typically just one or two pages, along with, for each meeting, a written one or two page summary of the same briefing content that will be delivered live; (iii) concurrently pursue policy achievement and shift in mindset. The project will have roughly 11 policy targets beyond what has been achieved already, as detailed in the footnote associated with this sentence. 22 Given the challenge of achieving policy adoption, the project certainly won’t be expected to achieve all of 11 these targets, but can pursue all of them in hopes of getting some of them, perhaps 3 to 5, adopted during the lifetime of the project and setting the stage for several of the others to be adopted after project close. Already, the project has achieved three policy successes/ adoptions (with four targeted in original design), so these additional 11 targets fit with an ambitious approach in pursuing higher level project impacts. It may also include, pending support of UNDP CO and MNREP, a carefully crafted letter to Head of Presidential Administration, formerly mayor of Novopolotsk during project preparation, in pursuit of an executive order to make the issue of GU Planning important, so that some action is taken.23 Project may also consider working with certain think tanks and NGOs that are influential in affecting national level thinking on policy (namely via their thought pieces) to convey its key messages to policy makers. Evidence: Key policy makers are not attending project events or reading project reports. They conveyed to the MTR team that they are very busy, particularly due to reductions in staffing. Some think GUD is just about “green areas” (trees/ grasses) in cities. Stakeholders experienced in interacting with government officials in Belarus convey: (i) While officials themselves draft policy, they may refer to respected outside documents for support. (ii) Certain officials are quite serious and will appreciate briefing input if of high quality – they may not see benefit in attending conferences, but respond well to “ad hoc” meetings. Stakeholders agree an executive order is the best way to bring GU Planning to the forefront/ achieve cross-ministerial attention and, while a long-shot, worth a try. Influence of the Head of the Presidential Administration is widely recognized. Her role in Novopolotsk during project design may be a positive if plans for the public transport/ car aspects of demo are made bolder/ more compelling. Experienced stakeholders indicate certain highly respected think tanks

Management Response: [Added: 2021/02/05]

Key Actions:

4. Recommendation:

4. Adopt new and targeted approach to influence the city planning process. Engage BelNIIP, and potentially other state and private sector urban planners (e.g. MinskGrado, Level80, etc.), in one-onone meetings with project experts and in planning process/ policy related assignment, if possible. Bring the “clients” (MoAC and city executive committees) into the process once progress is made with the planners. Pursue other channels, such as standards and traffic authorities, to influence city planning process

Elaboration: A. Small meetings between BelNIIP and project experts will focus on GUDPs and SUMP, with BelNIIP feedback on how these could be useful to master plan process. BelNIIP may be concerned that GUDPs are too general, but has not seen any yet. BelNIIP is working on draft Architectural, Urban Planning, and Construction Code and next year (2020) will prepare draft National Urban Development Policy - new ideas/ insights, measures, etc. from the project might be useful input. Innovative private urban design firm might be included in some small group discussions with BelNIIP. B. In the past, BelNIIP could not participate in bids for project assignments, because UNDP contract norms do not fit with requirements of certain type of state organizations. It's not clear if these problems can be overcome. If so, areas of possible contract work to discuss are: (1) integration of GUDP with the master plan process and (2) draft national legislation to promote GUDP. C. MoAC and city executive committees, as the “clients” of the MP preparation process, can also influence desired changes in the process. They should be consulted and their views and ideas incorporated into the discussion with the planners. These consultation with the “clients” can be integrated with other activities. In the case of MoAC, policy briefings under the Action Plan for Recommendation 3 can and should include, in additions to discussions about targeted policies, discussions on the planning process. Work with city executive committees in executing pilots, preparing plans, and getting priority projects financed will also be an opportunity for incorporating discussions of the planning process, seeking their views to share with the planners, and encouraging them as customers also to independently seek improvement of the process. D. Other avenues to influence the city planning process include pursuit of establishment of urban planning standards by the standards authority, pursuit of support of Traffic Police (who have approval authority of transport aspects of city plans), and pursuit of relevant policies (see recommendation 3). Project is pursuing many of these; and should fashion them into a coherent strategy to influence the urban planning process.Evidence: A/B. BelNIIP has not been attending project events. While many SECAP, SUMP, and GUDP measures that do not involve “pouring concrete” would not require revision of general plan, most stakeholders concur that BelNIIP, as the entity responsible for all city master plans in Belarus except Mink’s, needs to be engaged in order to find a way to integrate the GUDP and SUMP process with the master plan and transport annex process. The MTR team found substantial criticism of BelNIIP in the urban planning sector, possibly making public events to discuss new approaches unattractive/ unconstructive to BelNIIP. BelNIIP’s role in drafting key urban planning policies is also important to project’s aim. C. MoAC’s input can be very influential in terms of efforts to change the urban planning process, as they are the organization that orders the master plans prepared by BelNIIP, so are a key client. The city executive committees can be considered a client or the end user for whom the plans are prepared. Bottom up push from the cities is believed by stakeholders to be part of an effective mechanism for influencing the master planning process. D. Some of the alternative avenues have already been seen to have an influence. The Traffic Police, for example, did not approve a certain master plan prepared by BelNIIP until the transport section was improved.

Management Response: [Added: 2021/02/05]

Key Actions:

5. Recommendation:

5. Building on recently launched financing support work, put substantial focus on assisting cities to prepare and secure financing for specific priority projects in the plans that have been prepared.

Elaboration: This will be a key shift in the project’s focus from preparing plans, which may be at risk of “sitting on the shelf,” to actively helping cities get priority projects realized. The team has already launched this kind of “securing financing” support to one additional project in each pilot city (for a total of 3 projects). The project may wish to extend this support to its 5 other SECAP and 5 other GUDP partners (including Brest). This will diversify risk, allow the project to present options and/or packages to various financiers, and expand chances of success. Focus should be on projects that reduce GHG emissions so that the project will meet or exceed its target of 91,100 tons CO2e of direct GHG ERs. For Novopolotsk tram extension, an assessment of life cycle costs/benefits as compared to other options should be carried out before putting substantial effort into proposal.24 Support should be very proactive. Involved experts should actively reach out to funding institutions including EBRD, BDB, Chinese loans, other banks and donors, as well as sources associated with the state budget, and assist cities in holding meetings and negotiating with these parties. Since the time of the MTR mission, the project team has already held fruitful discussions with EBRD, which could be continued as the project proposals are prepared. The aim to achieve financing of such projects is very challenging, because cities in Belarus depend mainly on state funding and do not have much of their own revenue sources with which to repay loans. Yet, it is clearly a missing link, and any progress the project can make in this area will be valuable. Evidence: Most cities consulted were unclear how, aside from the project demos, initiatives in the project-supported plans will be financed. Results of project-supported financing study show how challenging financing is. At same time, city officials’ lack of experience and connections suggest that project support can make a difference in getting their projects visibility with potential financiers.

Management Response: [Added: 2021/02/05]

Key Actions:

6. Recommendation:

Recommendation 6. Revise approach for Polotsk/Novopolotsk demos building on recent, post-MTR mission progress in Polotsk: (i) reconsider selection of key measures, with emphasis on achieving longterm GHG ERs and making sure that the project targets, including direct ERs of 91,100 tonnes of CO2e, are met; (ii) engage city executives and coordinating committees frequently with project experts so they understand demo goals, budget, and efficacy of various options; (iii) convince cities to adopt low-cost, high efficacy measures as part of demo “package.” (See 9iii.)

Elaboration: Project should aim for a package of measures, including both those financed by the project and low-cost measures adopted concurrently by the cities.25 The measures should be those that do the most to reduce GHGs/ local emissions and enhance mobility, making sure that the project’s CO2e targets are met. Cost effectiveness should be considered. For bicycles, in addition to 3 km of paved, separate trail, the project should continue to encourage the cities to adopt as much of the proposed 30 km of bicycle lanes on roads as possible, as these are likely to achieve more GHG ERs than the separate trail, and to keep bump barriers for bicycle lanes in place year-round. A low-cost investment of around USD20,000 - 40,000 might be used to equip city with bike racks, institute pilot courtyard bike storage or storage where trash chute in buildings used to be, and (if needed) provide bike racks to buses. While the bicycle work is symbolically quite positive, stakeholders should be presented with the evidence that high impact public transport/ private car measures have the potential for much greater GHG ERs and improvement in local air quality/ reduction in congestion, but that measures must be selected strategically.26 They should also be presented with the evidence that lowcost measures are often among the most effective in achieving such results. After the MTR mission, the project achieved very notable success in that its Traffic Management Study for Polotsk convinced the Polotsk Executive Committee to agree to adopt 4 km of bus lanes (with barriers) in city center as an experiment, likely to be accompanied by driving restrictions for private cars in city center at certain times of day. These will be the first real bus lanes in Belarus. (Efforts in Minsk did not include barriers, were not continuous, and did not really deter cars from entering bus lanes.) It is recommended that the project build on these initial successes in Polotsk to encourage the adoption of more such measures and to ensure the Polotsk experimental bus lanes are successful and adopted for the long run. For public transport in Novopolotsk, strong effort should be put on convincing Novopolotsk to institute test bus lane of up to 3 km on Molodezhnaya St. and parking ban on other parts of the bus/tram corridor approved for further action in 2015.27 Benefits of improvement of bus stops and provision of signboards with bus arrival times (currently targeted to be among the main expenditure areas of the SUT demos) should be compared to options that speed up buses or make cars less attractive. If it is still decided to improve bus stops, the question of whether an incremental addition to 20 or more bus stops will be more impactful than full renovation of 5 may be considered. Contentious issue of whether synchronized traffic lights can benefit buses or simply serve to increase cars should be carefully assessed. If adopted, synchronized traffic lights should focus on improving flow of large capacity buses, rather than catering to private cars. (Recent developments indicate agreement to keep the “ideal speed” for the synchronized traffic lights to a speed suitable to large capacity buses.) To reduce private cars, other measures, such as parking restriction, parking fees (with concurrent work under recommendation 3 on parking policy), and roads that do not allow cars, should be promoted. Innovative low cost measures, such as lagging work times at the refinery to reduce congestion, should also be considered. To ensure city executives and coordinating committees understand the goals, budget, and efficacy of various options, project transport experts should become more closely engaged in advising the cities and facilitating their meetings at which the measures will be decided upon.Evidence: The MTR team found during the MTR mission that selection of measures is currently not following an orderly process that emphasizes long term GHG ERs/ local air quality benefit. The controversy on the synchronized traffic lights (of whether they will benefit buses or instead simply increase cars) is a serious one that has not been worked through, though recent feedback from the project team suggests a lower ideal speed for the traffic lights will favor buses for the “green wave.” The pilot bus lane in Novopolotsk, considered by designers to be a critical measure for public transport, does not appear to be going forward. Yet, just recently, a month or two after the MTR mission, Polotsk has agreed to a 4 km experimental bus lane with barriers, which is a very promising development, the sort of thing the project should pursue more of. At the time of the mission, it seemed that most stakeholders were not very enthusiastic about the public transport measures that were at the time the main ones being considered (improved bus stops and signboards), perhaps because their impact on bus ridership is uncertain. The new bus lane initiative in Polotsk is likely to be generating more excitement now that it has been raised and is approved. The project supported a traffic management study for Polotsk to support the need to understand how to reroute traffic for its upcoming, temporary bridge closure. The MTR team questioned the long-term benefit and suitability of reallocating infrastructure funds for a study, but recently learned it is this study that convinced Polotsk to test a 4 km experimental bus lane with barriers and potentially private car restrictions (based on time of day) in city center. It may be a lesson learned that neither the public transport feasibility study nor the ISUMP seemed to have much influence in convincing Polotsk to take such actions, while the detailed design of the Traffic Management Study did. Experts generally agree that in addition to improving public transport, there needs to be a push, making cars less attractive through parking fees or driving restrictions, to get people to choose public transport over cars. Thus, it is encouraging that Polotsk is considering private car restrictions, though more are needed, including in Novopolotsk. Coordinating committees do not seem to have clear goals (such as GHG ERs, improvement of local air quality, reduction of congestion). They have not been empowered with an understanding of the budget available, so are providing input to decision makers without full understanding of the situation.

Management Response: [Added: 2021/02/05]

Key Actions:

7. Recommendation:

7. Before moving forward with smart meter demo, clearly identify and confirm specific means and amount of energy savings and GHG ERs (current preliminary estimate is just 252 tons CO2 direct ERs). Adjust demo plans accordingly to maximize savings and GHG ERs. Clarify to all involved.

Elaboration: It is agreed that adding meters for heating (whether smart or not smart) where there were none before will save energy. Yet, the source of expected energy savings from replacing regular meters for electricity, water, and gas with smart meters needs to be clearly explained. One explanation is that data collected by utilities from smart meters can lead to identification and reduction of line losses. Whether this will be the case with the proposed demo needs to be verified specifically. If utility action will be a main source of savings, it should be confirmed that the utilities indeed will be following up as needed to achieve the savings. If the smart meters will not lead to energy savings, alternatives (such as a focus on heating meters only) might be considered. If it is confirmed that the other smart meters will save energy, how they will do this should be explained to all; and the demos carefully designed so that this targeted smart meter savings is indeed achieved. Preliminary estimates for the total lifetime direct CO2 ERs for the smart meter demo are 252 tons CO2. This is much less than the 10,190 tons lifetime direct CO2 ERs estimated for the laundry demo, which the smart meter demo is to replace. Evidence: The MTR team found that, aside from the benefit of metering heating (where there were no meters before), the source of energy saving via smart meters is not well understood by stakeholders in Novogrudok. Internationally, the evidence/ experience of smart meters resulting in energy savings (as compared to regular meters) is quite mixed. Some residents of demo building are hesitant to agree to participate, probably because the benefit is unclear. After the MTR mission, estimates of the proposed smart meter demo’s GHG ERs were provided. Yet, the mechanism of these ERs (aside from those of providing heating meters where there were none before) have not yet been clarified.

Management Response: [Added: 2021/02/05]

Key Actions:

8. Recommendation:

8. Develop clear means of communicating main aim of the project (e.g. “to incorporate environmental sustainability and people-centeredness in city planning and ensure priority projects are implemented”) and ensure all stakeholders understand from the start. Eliminate confusion that “green planning” is just about “green areas” or that project is just very generally addressing the SDGs

as that described above) that can be considered to unify its many activities. This main aim should be used to test the relevance of activities and refine them as needed. Efforts should be made to ensure that all stakeholders understand this main aim of the project, which should be introduced early in the conversation and reiterated throughout. Specific measures should be taken to clear up confusion that the project is just generally about the SDGs or that “green planning” is only about “green areas,” Evidence: Both government officials and NGO stakeholders consulted confused GUDP with “green area” work. Project includes 7 SDGs on letterhead. Project design is complex with three different types of plans and demos related to bicycles, public transport, city lighting, and apartment metering.

Management Response: [Added: 2021/02/05]

Key Actions:

9. Recommendation:

9. Increase focus of city official mindset change work, ensuring they understand: (i) why they need a plan rather than just measures; (ii) goals of measures; (iii) how low cost measures, such as those in transport can save money and be more effective than new infrastructure; (iv) how GUD and SUMPs should be promoted as TORs for Master Plan and its Transport Annex. Further leverage President’s Academy of Public Administration and leverage official government site visits for heads of regions, districts, and cities.

Elaboration: Good progress has been made in city official mindset work, but gaps remain. Mindset efforts focused on the four items above should be carried out continuously with demo cities and other cities project supports in preparing SECAPs/ GUDPs. A course on GUD might be designed for and held at the President’s Academy,28 if it can be ensured that only officials with real interest will attend. Several times a year, Council of Ministers organizes local officials to carry out site visits, so project should ensure its demos, once operational, are among those visited. To better understand the mindset change initially intended, project team may wish to discuss with original local designers of SUT demos. Evidence: Some officials see SECAPs and GUDPs as mere “packaging” for donors and don’t see underlying benefit of having a strategy or vision. Initial aim of SUT demo was to emphasize benefits of low-cost measures (e.g. bus lanes, parking fees). At the time of the MTR mission, it was found that the cities were no longer planning these. In a positive development, since then, Polotsk is now planning experimentation with bus lanes in city center and possibly private car driving restrictions, but Novopolotsk lacks plans for these kind of measures. While the project has agreement with President’s Academy to share materials, no specific GUD curriculum has been developed and no specific GUD course is planned.

Management Response: [Added: 2021/02/05]

Key Actions:

10. Recommendation:

10. Engage city residents (and, possibly, other non-governmental and commercial stakeholders) in the planning process. Educate them as in item above. Work to achieve simple language in visions/plans that residents can understand. Ensure plans reflect their priorities

Elaboration: Work should be done, especially in the case of GUDPs, to ensure that vision and content of plans reflect priorities of residents. Because there may be some history of a “complaint relationship” between city officials and residents, work may be needed to develop a positive exchange. Project might consider working with NGOs or other initiatives that have experience in positive engagement of local residents, especially those with experience engaging city residents in urban design process. At the time of the MTR mission, citizens had not yet been involved in any way in the process of preparing GUDPs,SECAPs, or the ISUMP, though city officials had been extensively involved. After the MTR mission, the project team began to plan public hearings in pilot cities to discuss the GUDPs and ISUMP, a move that is quite congruent with this recommendation. Evidence: So far, local residents have not been involved in GUDP, SECAP, or SUMP design, though plans for public hearings are encouraging. One source found Brest residents are not aware of main ideas/ content of Symbio City and their main concerns may not be reflected in the plan.

Management Response: [Added: 2021/02/05]

Key Actions:

11. Recommendation:

11. Consider expanding engagement to other key groups: (i) involving private sector designers and students via competition for design of urban blocks/pilot projects; (ii) working with education sector to incorporate GUD in official university urban design curriculum; (iii) leveraging relationship with select influential think tanks and NGOs to promote policy and process change.

Elaboration: A. Involvement of private sector designers and students in a competition for the project’s urban block design could generate new ideas, attract national attention and potentially investment, and provide a positive feedback loop for improving the city’s GUDP. Currently, project is planning urban block design for each of the three pilot cities. It may wish to expand work to its other GUDP cities and especially, given national government attention to the Symbio Plan, Brest. B. Education of future urban designers may be one channel for the project to pursue its aim of changing the urban planning process. Working with department chairs in the field, such as at BNTU, may be a means to achieve curriculum and accreditation change that incorporates GUD. C. Working with influential think tanks and NGOs via their “thought pieces” may be a means to influence policy as targeted in recommendation 3. Evidence: A. So far, private sector designers and students are involved in the project only as consumers of content, not as active participants. Yet, the urban design work of innovative designers, such as Level 80, have attracted Presidential-level attention. B. Nowadays, student urban design projects are of new developments only, rather than improvement of existing urban blocks. C. Experienced stakeholders indicate certain highly respected think tanks/ NGOs influence national-level policy in Belarus through their thought pieces and blogs. So far, project has not engaged such groups as active participants.

Management Response: [Added: 2021/02/05]

Key Actions:

12. Recommendation:

12. Exchange with GEF/WB Global Platform for Sustainable Cities to harmonize indicators and get information on/connections for channels for financing sustainable city initiatives.

Elaboration: Project has worked hard to select GUDP indicators suitable to Belarus. Involvement with the Platform will ensure Belarus follows international best practice in indicators and gets access to information on international sources and methods of financing GUDP measures. Evidence: Platform involves 28 cities in 11 countries and USD 151 million in grants. Platform is funded by GEF and reflects GEF’s interest in promoting international best practice in unified fashion.

Management Response: [Added: 2021/02/05]

Key Actions:

13. Recommendation:

13. Building on plans for preparation in 2019 of a video on the street lighting demo, prepare comprehensive video on all demos and other initiatives for which financing is secured. Video should be quite attractive, such as through use of drones. Also, prepare a lessons learned study and short electronic brochures on the demo projects.

Elaboration: Project Communications Officer has worked hard to avoid “business as usual” in communications; and the same principle should be used to develop an out-of-the-ordinary video covering all demos and other initiatives for which financing is secured and installation achieved during the lifetime of the project. The lessons learned study should be based both on findings from monitoring of the demos and other installed initiatives and earlier experience gained during demo preparation. The project has found that paper brochures no longer catch reader attention, though electronic brochures that succinctly highlight demo results may be prepared and circulated. Evidence: Videos are widely used by content marketers in private sector, suggesting their effectiveness. Project has already faced and overcome challenges, such as getting Polotsk on board with pursuing low cost, high impact SUT measures that may be politically challenging, such as the nation’s first true bus lanes. Thus, lessons on what worked and what didn’t will be valuable.

Management Response: [Added: 2021/02/05]

Key Actions:

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