Moldova Sustainable Green Cities - Mid-Term Evaluation

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Evaluation Plan:
2018-2022, Moldova
Evaluation Type:
Mid Term Project
Planned End Date:
11/2020
Completion Date:
11/2020
Status:
Completed
Management Response:
Yes
Evaluation Budget(US $):
20,000

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Title Moldova Sustainable Green Cities - Mid-Term Evaluation
Atlas Project Number: 97704
Evaluation Plan: 2018-2022, Moldova
Evaluation Type: Mid Term Project
Status: Completed
Completion Date: 11/2020
Planned End Date: 11/2020
Management Response: Yes
Corporate Outcome and Output (UNDP Strategic Plan 2018-2021)
  • 1. Output 1.4.1 Solutions scaled up for sustainable management of natural resources, including sustainable commodities and green and inclusive value chains
  • 2. Output 1.5.1 Solutions adopted to achieve universal access to clean, affordable and sustainable energy
  • 3. Output 2.3.1 Data and risk-informed development policies, plans, systems and financing incorporate integrated and gender-responsive solutions to reduce disaster risks, enable climate change adaptation and mitigation, and prevent risk of conflict
Evaluation Budget(US $): 20,000
Source of Funding: Project (donor) funds / GEF
Evaluation Expenditure(US $): 18,750
Joint Programme: No
Joint Evaluation: No
Evaluation Team members:
Name Title Email Nationality
Josh Brann Independent evaluator brann.evaluation@gmail.com
Ekaterina Melnicenco Independent evaluator katea.melnicenco@gmail.com
GEF Evaluation: Yes
GEF Project Title: Moldova Sustainable Green Cities - Catalyzing investment in sustainable green cities in the Republic of Moldova using a holistic integrated urban planning approach
Evaluation Type: Mid-term Review
Focal Area: Climate Change
Project Type: FSP
GEF Phase: GEF-6
GEF Project ID: 9042
PIMS Number: 5492
Key Stakeholders: Ministry of Agriculture, Regional Development and Environment
Countries: MOLDOVA, REPUBLIC OF
Lessons
Findings
1.

With respect to relevance, the project is considered relevant / satisfactory.

  • Generally, the project is supportive of national policies and strategies, and provides support for Moldova to implement national commitments under international agreements relating to climate change.
  • The overarching idea of the Green City Lab is relevant, particularly in the context of the Green City Lab potentially providing project management services for Chisinau Municipality. The original vision of the way the Green City Lab would be established and operate (i.e. drawing on the example of the Carbon Fund in the UK) was not fully relevant in the context of Moldova.
  • The strategic rationale for the demonstration projects was not well defined. The purpose of some demonstration projects has been described as being inspirational, while also partially providing ready-made content for the operation of the Green City Lab.
  • There is also a great tension built into the project design (as embodied in the project results framework indicator targets) of the project needing to generate concrete results in terms of GHG mitigation, while also needing to establish and ensure the financial sustainability of the Green City Lab. In the case of this project, the short-term achievement of GHG mitigation may not fully align with the financial sustainability of the Green City Lab: activities that generate the greatest short-term GHG mitigation are not necessarily the activities that generate the greatest financial return.

Project efficiency is rated satisfactory.

  • Project execution is good
  • The SGC project has a strong partnership approach, especially with the private sector and Municipality of Chisinau
  • Co-financing has been leveraged significantly above planned levels; as of July 21, 2020, the project had $75.31 million USD in co-financing, which is already 188.6% of the total co-financing planned for the entire project. In addition, co-financing has been provided by 10 partners, compared to four originally planned co-financing partners.
  • The project has good adaptive management in the face of dynamic external context and some weaknesses in project design.
  • Cost-effectiveness is good (although establishment of the Green City Lab is delayed); for example, high private sector financing has been leveraged in the EV charging installations.
  • Due to some delays in implementation, UNDP and the Project Board will need to consider a 6-12 month no-cost extension by June 30, 2021.
  • M&E design was lacking, especially with respect to the design of the results framework indicators and targets; multiple quantitative indicator targets are not well rationalized, and the indicators for Component 3 are not well structured.
  • Implementation of the planned M&E activities has been adequate, with monitoring and reporting requirements carried out as required in a timely and comprehensive manner.
  • It would be potentially beneficial to have wider stakeholder representation on the Project Board.
  • Knowledge management aspects could be strengthened; while communications and outreach have been good, establishment of the Knowledge Management platform is not yet in-line with what was envisioned in the Prodoc; this aspect of the project needs to be re-assessed to fully identify and defined strategic objectives in terms of Knowledge Management.

The project’s effectiveness is rated as moderately satisfactory.

  • Delays in establishing the Green City Lab are problematic, though are mainly based in a.) lack of a clear institutional and legal roadmap for establishing the Green City Lab from the development phase; b.) external contextual factors (i.e. political instability including multiple changes in municipal government, coronavirus global pandemic in 2020).
  • In addition, the selection of demonstration projects was opportunistic rather than strategic, leading to a diffuse portfolio, with resources spread thin. For some of the demonstration projects progress is limited and it is unclear to what extent they will lead to catalytic effects.

Project results / achievement of overall outcomes is rated moderately satisfactory. The project is likely to achieve 6 of the 12 project results indicator targets, while 6 targets are partially achieved and/or achievement is uncertain. The most important project result, the successful and financially sustainable establishment of the Green City Lab, is not yet achieved, and achievement is uncertain, although there has been significant positive progress toward establishment of the Green City Lab.

Sustainability is one of the five main evaluation criteria, as well as being considered one of the GEF operational principles. Based on GEF evaluation policies and procedures, the overall rating for sustainability cannot be higher than the lowest rating for any of the four individual sub-components of sustainability. Therefore, the overall sustainability rating for the Moldova SGC project is moderately likely, as this is the rating for three of the four sub-components of sustainability.

  • Sustainability is difficult to assess at the mid-term, as it is a dynamic state that can be greatly affected by small actions during implementation.
  • From current perspective, project results are assessed as being more likely to be sustainable than they are unlikely to be sustainable.
  • Financial sustainability is considered moderately likely, but much will depend on the progress of the Green City Lab to establish itself over the 2nd half of the project.
  • For socio-political sustainability, there remains risk of political instability, and the project must continue to ensure stakeholder buy-in and engagement from the Municipality of Chisinau as well as the Green City Lab private sector partners, but the project’s overall partnership approach and stakeholder engagement has been positive so far. This aspect of sustainability is considered moderately likely.
  • Institutional framework and governance again relates to political stability, and political-financial risks, but the institutional framework of the Green City Lab is finally on solid footing, and the project is poised to make more rapid progress with the Green City Lab in the 2nd half of the project. This aspect of sustainability is rated moderately likely.
  • Environmental sustainability of project results is not highly relevant, and no significant issues are foreseen; this aspect of sustainability is rated likely.

Recommendations
1

Expand the PB membership to include additional diverse stakeholders from civil society, academia (e.g. representatives from technology or engineering departments of university), and private sector (e.g. representative from business association, chamber of commerce, or other similar representative organization for the private sector). The goal of expanding the PB membership is to increase the project’s linkages with other relevant initiatives in the country, to increase creative inputs and guidance for the strategic direction of project activities, and to amplify the dissemination and awareness raising related to the project’s results.

2

Results framework should be revised to improve relevance of some indicators, and rationalization of key targets.

3

Increase attention on Component 3, and clarify in reporting how the MRV envisioned in the Prodoc relates to what is currently being implemented.

4

Increase attention and effort on communication and knowledge management mechanisms, as foreseen under Component 3, to clarify the strategic approach (also relates to recommendation on communication strategy for Green City Lab).

5

Increase focus on scaling-up and replicability (by increasing adoption of new technologies, identifying new client municipalities, etc.) of demonstration projects (including by potentially increasing the project’s planned budget for the Fast Track Challenge Programme), to increase the potential for the catalytic effect of the project.

6

Ensure legal establishment of the Green City Lab and hiring of Director as rapidly as possible, taking into consideration that the new Law on the establishment of NGOs is in effect starting September 1st, 2020.

7

The Green City Lab should articulate as quickly and clearly as possible what the role for the private sector is vis-à-vis the Green City Lab, now that the private sector has stepped up as founding members. The private sector is not required to contribute financially, at least not in the near term, so their role needs to be clearly defined. The Green City Lab is focused on serving Chisinau and other municipalities, so there is a need to identify the role and involvement of the private sector. There should also be a transparent discussion with the founding members on the role of subsequent Green City Lab members. In addition, there should be a transparent discussion to ensure clarity on how all stakeholders involved can avoid any perceptions of conflicts of interest between the work of the Green City Lab and the roles of the private sector. Rules and procedures for dealing with conflict of interest should be prepared and agreed.

8

The project should develop a draft communications and stakeholder engagement strategy for the Green City Lab immediately (even before the Green City Lab is operational), which can provide direction for building and ensuring engagement and buy-in by Chisinau Municipality and the private sector partners once the Green City Lab is operational.

9

Ensure all of the necessary operational documents for the Green City Lab (bylaws, internal guidelines, operational manual, etc.) are finalized as quickly as possible, with full transparency and appropriate stakeholder input. In conjunction, convene the Green City Lab board as soon as possible.

10

As soon as Green City Lab Director is in place, review and update the business plan financial figures in terms of the revenue required for financial sustainability of the Green City Lab – financial projection scenarios over time, based on required revenues based on various staffing and expense levels. This may be done with the input of an international Technical Advisor, who can support the project and the operationalization of the Green City Lab on multiple aspects. This should include revising the annual budget and financial sustainability plan to cover administrative and operational costs and identify income sources. This can be achieved by diversification of activities: serving as PMU for grants, loans, governmental funds as well as providing paid services. The Prodoc provides an estimated required revenue figure of $200K/year (dating back to the 2016-2017 project development timeframe), and this has been simply echoed in all corresponding documents since this time, including the most recent business plan, but this figure can be much more realistically updated once the Green City Lab is established.

11

The project team, Green City Lab, and UNDP should conduct discussions with bilateral and multilateral donor agencies and international financial institutions (possibly in the context of the Chisinau Municipality donor roundtable established in summer 2020) to determine the financial feasibility of the Green City Lab acting as a PIU for Chisinau. This could be done under the umbrella of the Green City Action Plan. This could be organized as a donor roundtable for the Green City Action Plan. (Building on the experience of national donor coordination on water management).

12

UNDP and the Project Team should try to ensure that all key Green City Lab initial support staff are hired in parallel with the Director, so that the Director is able to move rapidly ahead with substantive issues in the first 6 months of the Green City Lab’s operation, rather than dealing with administrative requirements.

1. Recommendation:

Expand the PB membership to include additional diverse stakeholders from civil society, academia (e.g. representatives from technology or engineering departments of university), and private sector (e.g. representative from business association, chamber of commerce, or other similar representative organization for the private sector). The goal of expanding the PB membership is to increase the project’s linkages with other relevant initiatives in the country, to increase creative inputs and guidance for the strategic direction of project activities, and to amplify the dissemination and awareness raising related to the project’s results.

Management Response: [Added: 2020/12/03]

By practice and rule, UNDP undertakes a solid stakeholders’ analysis during project design and building on the identified roles and functions, clarifies their contribution towards successful implementation of the project. As a response to the recommendation the project team and UNDP CO will perform an analysis of the existing Project board composition in light of the establishment of the Green City Lab in order to avoid overlapping and ensure the best representation in project and GCL decision bodies

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
1.1. Re-assessment of project board composition, identification of missing relevant stakeholders in project board and provision of invitation to join
[Added: 2020/12/03] [Last Updated: 2021/08/13]
UNDP Moldova Country Office / Project Management Team 2021/07 Completed The additional 2 members were designated by European Business Association and National agency for research and development. History
2. Recommendation:

Results framework should be revised to improve relevance of some indicators, and rationalization of key targets.

Management Response: [Added: 2020/12/03]

UNDP CO and project team will update the project result framework on the basis of in-depth analysis of existing socio-economic situation, pandemic impact and updated management plan for the Green City Lab/GCL.  

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
2.2 Approval of the updated Results framework by PB with prior approval by UNDP and RTA in accordance with GEF and UNDP rules and regulations.
[Added: 2020/12/03] [Last Updated: 2021/10/05]
Project board with support from UNDP CO and IRH 2021/12 Initiated The updated business plan was received in the second half of September and is currently under revision. The Results framework will be updated based on the final agreed version of the business plan. History
2.1. Update of the existing GCL business plan with the support of GCL team, international and national experts.
[Added: 2020/12/03] [Last Updated: 2021/11/10]
GCL team, Project Management Team, with support from UNDP CO 2021/10 Completed The updated Business plan was finalized and will be presented to the GCL board meeting on 15 November 2021. History
3. Recommendation:

Increase attention on Component 3, and clarify in reporting how the MRV envisioned in the Prodoc relates to what is currently being implemented.

Management Response: [Added: 2020/12/03]

While the project team has developed a simplified tool for MRV to capture data about the GHG emission reductions resulting from the pilot/demonstration projects (including Fast Track Challenge projects) actions will be undertaken to improve it.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
3.1. Re-assessment of the existing MRV tool and its improvement with the support of the MRV expert and Project team
[Added: 2020/12/03] [Last Updated: 2021/11/10]
Project Management Team and UNDP CO 2021/12 Initiated History
4. Recommendation:

Increase attention and effort on communication and knowledge management mechanisms, as foreseen under Component 3, to clarify the strategic approach (also relates to recommendation on communication strategy for Green City Lab).

Management Response: [Added: 2020/12/03] [Last Updated: 2020/12/03]

The recommendation is well noted and will be effectively followed-up. It will be taken into account for both Green City Lab and Green city project communication strategies for strengthening communication and knowledge management mechanisms.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
4.1 Update the Green city project communication strategy by strengthening communication and knowledge management mechanisms.
[Added: 2020/12/03] [Last Updated: 2021/08/13]
Project Management Team and UNDP CO 2021/04 Completed The activity has been carried out as part of the UNDP CO internal exercise. History
5. Recommendation:

Increase focus on scaling-up and replicability (by increasing adoption of new technologies, identifying new client municipalities, etc.) of demonstration projects (including by potentially increasing the project’s planned budget for the Fast Track Challenge Programme), to increase the potential for the catalytic effect of the project.

Management Response: [Added: 2020/12/03]

Well noted. UNDP CO will make respective budget revision in line with GEF and UNDP rules and regulations

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
5.1. Make a budget revision by increasing the project’s planned budget for the Fast Track Challenge Programme
[Added: 2020/12/03] [Last Updated: 2021/05/05]
Project Management Team and UNDP CO, UNDP IRH 2021/03 Completed The increase in allocated budget for Fast Track Challenge Programme was reflected in December 2020 budget revision History
5.2 Scale-up and replicate best demonstration projects by Green City Lab with support of GC project team (including in new client municipalities)
[Added: 2020/12/03]
Green City Lab and Project Management Team 2022/12 Not Initiated
6. Recommendation:

Ensure legal establishment of the Green City Lab and hiring of Director as rapidly as possible, taking into consideration that the new Law on the establishment of NGOs is in effect starting September 1st, 2020.

Management Response: [Added: 2020/12/03]

Well noted. The process was initiated.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
6.1 Support Green City Lab legal establishment and director hiring, including necessary board approvals
[Added: 2020/12/03] [Last Updated: 2021/05/05]
Project Management Team and UNDP CO 2021/03 Completed The GCL director was selected and GCL was officially registered in March 2021 History
7. Recommendation:

The Green City Lab should articulate as quickly and clearly as possible what the role for the private sector is vis-à-vis the Green City Lab, now that the private sector has stepped up as founding members. The private sector is not required to contribute financially, at least not in the near term, so their role needs to be clearly defined. The Green City Lab is focused on serving Chisinau and other municipalities, so there is a need to identify the role and involvement of the private sector. There should also be a transparent discussion with the founding members on the role of subsequent Green City Lab members. In addition, there should be a transparent discussion to ensure clarity on how all stakeholders involved can avoid any perceptions of conflicts of interest between the work of the Green City Lab and the roles of the private sector. Rules and procedures for dealing with conflict of interest should be prepared and agreed.

Management Response: [Added: 2020/12/03]

Well noted. The process was initiated. The role of each founding member in the NGO activity is regulated by the national legislation to avoid conflict of interests. However, an open discussion with each GCL member during the operationalization and business planning process will be undertaken to identify the role and contribution to GCL sustainability.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
7.1 Identification of the role of each founding member in GCL sustainable functioning
[Added: 2020/12/03] [Last Updated: 2021/08/13]
Project Management Team and UNDP CO 2021/07 Completed The role of each founding member in GCL was clarified in statutory documentation. History
7.2 Participation of the GCL founding members at the GCL business planning process
[Added: 2020/12/03] [Last Updated: 2021/11/10]
GCL team and Project Management Team 2021/10 Completed The GCL founding members participated in GCL Business planning process, being part in different meetings and also having the possibility to comment on draft document. The final document will be presented to the GCL board meeting on 15 November 2021. History
7.3 Developing internal set of rules and procedures for dealing with conflict of interest within the GCL
[Added: 2020/12/03] [Last Updated: 2021/08/13]
GCL team and Project Management Team 2021/06 Completed The documents were developed and Declarations are being signed by each new staff member upon employment. History
8. Recommendation:

The project should develop a draft communications and stakeholder engagement strategy for the Green City Lab immediately (even before the Green City Lab is operational), which can provide direction for building and ensuring engagement and buy-in by Chisinau Municipality and the private sector partners once the Green City Lab is operational.

Management Response: [Added: 2020/12/03]

The recommendation will be broadly shared with the communication specialist for effective follow-up. Recommendation will be taken into account when developing Green City Lab communication strategy and updated business plan.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
8.1 Develop the communications and stakeholder engagement strategy for the Green City Lab for building and ensuring engagement and buy-in by Chisinau Municipality, and the private sector partners
[Added: 2020/12/03] [Last Updated: 2021/11/10]
GCL team, Project Management Team and UNDP CO 2021/12 Initiated Comments: The stakeholder engagement plan was developed and is part of the GCL Business plan. The communication strategy is developed with some delay due to the vacant position of Communication officer from July until end October. The development of the GCL communication strategy is under development and will be finalized by end 2021. History
9. Recommendation:

Ensure all of the necessary operational documents for the Green City Lab (bylaws, internal guidelines, operational manual, etc.) are finalized as quickly as possible, with full transparency and appropriate stakeholder input. In conjunction, convene the Green City Lab board as soon as possible.

Management Response: [Added: 2020/12/03]

Well noted. The process was initiated. Draft operational documents were developed according to national legislation and awaiting be approved by the GCL founding members after executive director process finalize.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
Finalize and approve all of the necessary operational documents for the Green City Lab (by laws, internal guidelines, operational manual, etc.) by Green City Lab board.
[Added: 2020/12/03] [Last Updated: 2021/08/13]
GCL team, Project Management Team and UNDP CO 2021/07 Completed The set of internal regulations was developed and provided to GCL. History
10. Recommendation:

As soon as Green City Lab Director is in place, review and update the business plan financial figures in terms of the revenue required for financial sustainability of the Green City Lab – financial projection scenarios over time, based on required revenues based on various staffing and expense levels. This may be done with the input of an international Technical Advisor, who can support the project and the operationalization of the Green City Lab on multiple aspects. This should include revising the annual budget and financial sustainability plan to cover administrative and operational costs and identify income sources. This can be achieved by diversification of activities: serving as PMU for grants, loans, governmental funds as well as providing paid services. The Prodoc provides an estimated required revenue figure of $200K/year (dating back to the 2016-2017 project development timeframe), and this has been simply echoed in all corresponding documents since this time, including the most recent business plan, but this figure can be much more realistically updated once the Green City Lab is established.

Management Response: [Added: 2020/12/03]

Well noted. UNDP CO will provide overall support to the GCL team in business plan update and pay attention to a more realistic revenue target to ensure self-sustainability of GCL.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
Update the existing GCL business plan with support from the GCL team and international and national experts
[Added: 2020/12/03] [Last Updated: 2021/11/10]
Green City Lab, Project Management Team, UNDP CO 2021/10 Completed The updated Business plan was finalized and will be presented to the GCL board meeting on 15 November 2021. History
11. Recommendation:

The project team, Green City Lab, and UNDP should conduct discussions with bilateral and multilateral donor agencies and international financial institutions (possibly in the context of the Chisinau Municipality donor roundtable established in summer 2020) to determine the financial feasibility of the Green City Lab acting as a PIU for Chisinau. This could be done under the umbrella of the Green City Action Plan. This could be organized as a donor roundtable for the Green City Action Plan. (Building on the experience of national donor coordination on water management).

Management Response: [Added: 2020/12/03]

Well noted. UNDP will follow up on this recommendation and enter into separate discussions with Chisinau municipality and potential donors agencies and IFIs to ensure financial feasibility and sustainability of the GCL.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
11.1 GCL team with support of project team and CO will do the donor mapping and organize a donor meetings/forum to present the pipeline of initiatives.
[Added: 2020/12/03] [Last Updated: 2021/08/13]
Green City Lab, Project Management Team, UNDP CO 2021/11 Overdue-Initiated The activity is part of the Chisinau Investment Forum, to be organized in October 2021. History
12. Recommendation:

UNDP and the Project Team should try to ensure that all key Green City Lab initial support staff are hired in parallel with the Director, so that the Director is able to move rapidly ahead with substantive issues in the first 6 months of the Green City Lab’s operation, rather than dealing with administrative requirements.

Management Response: [Added: 2020/12/03]

Well noted. According to the developed Business Plan, the existing GC project officer responsible for demo projects implementation should migrate to GCL as a development/technical expert. An additional procurement/financial assistant will be hired once GCL will operationalized.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
Transfer of the GC project officer responsible for demo projects implementation to GCL as a development/technical expert. Selection and recruitment of the procurement/financial assistant
[Added: 2020/12/03] [Last Updated: 2021/08/13]
Project Management Team, UNDP 2021/06 Completed Transfer of the GC project officer responsible for demo projects implementation to GCL as a development/technical expert was not relevant any more as the person left the project. Recruitment of the procurement/financial assistant for the GCL was done. History

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