Terminal Evaluation “Rhino Bonds” Rhino Impact Investment (RII): An Innovative Financing Mechanism for Site-Based Rhinoceros Conservation (PIMS 5382)

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Title Terminal Evaluation “Rhino Bonds” Rhino Impact Investment (RII): An Innovative Financing Mechanism for Site-Based Rhinoceros Conservation (PIMS 5382)
Atlas Project Number: 00088255
Evaluation Plan: 2018-2021, Bureau for Policy and Programme Support
Evaluation Type: Final Project
Status: Completed
Completion Date: 08/2020
Planned End Date: 03/2020
Management Response: No
Focus Area:
  • 1. Others
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
SDG Goal
  • Goal 15. Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss
  • Goal 17. Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the Global Partnership for Sustainable Development
SDG Target
  • 15.a Mobilize and significantly increase financial resources from all sources to conserve and sustainably use biodiversity and ecosystems
  • 17.17 Encourage and promote effective public, public-private and civil society partnerships, building on the experience and resourcing strategies of partnerships
Evaluation Budget(US $): 30,000
Source of Funding: UNDP-GEF project resources
Evaluation Expenditure(US $): 16,222
Joint Programme: No
Joint Evaluation: No
Evaluation Team members:
Name Title Nationality
Jose Galindo
GEF Evaluation: Yes
GEF Project Title: Rhino Impact Investment (RII): An Innovative Financing Mechanism for Site-Based Rhinoceros Conservation
Evaluation Type: Terminal Evaluation
Focal Area: Biodiversity
Project Type: MSP
GEF Phase: GEF-5
GEF Project ID: 5721
PIMS Number: 5382
Key Stakeholders:
Countries: GLOBAL
  • Innovation itself is complex, donors are usually ill equipped to fully endorse and invest in creating a paradigm breaker, something entirely new that was not there before. When there are no models to follow, energy could be canalized more efficiently towards creativity and innovation.
  • Incubating innovation should be careful to take one step at the time, the RII was combining a three steps approach into one single intervention. In this case it was not only about creating an entirely new mechanism and receiving large technical and institutional endorsement, but to add on complexity, design chose to test in different protected areas, across different countries, cultures and institutional settings.
  • Higher level leadership is required to convene senior donor decision-makers to unlock key sources such as bilateral donors as potential outcome-payers. The Project Board composition could play a determinant role to fill gaps and open doors where needed. 
  • Future similar projects should be careful to have a balanced approach between conservation and finance profiles at all implementation levels. Such projects need experienced financial advice, in-depth knowledge about financial markets and the capacity to leverage high level endorsement and support. The RII could have benefit from a team with greater financial background, a board with clearer commitment to support fundraising, and earlier involvement from implementing partners specialized in impact investment. However, it is worth mentioning that Credit Suisse, only got involved once there was sufficient detail backing up the intervention.   
  • For future similar projects, the most repeated lesson learned out of different interviews is: “Don’t go too far without an outcome payer”.
  • Successful projects are based on individuals, success in this kind of uncertain and innovative projects is usually driven by vision, strong leadership and individual commitment from the project team to move implementation forward. 
  • Bridging the gap between financial markets and species conservation, demand an entirely new set of intermediaries outside of the traditional conservation NGO framework. The RII demonstrated an interesting model for future private-public partnerships, bringing in not only capital also expertise on cost effective management and results-based compensation.
  • Although rhino expert networks in Africa and Asia perform very similar roles, a differentiated approach should be considered for future projects, as different capacities and consolidation levels present barriers for simultaneous implementation.
  • Gender issues were not included in the original project design, nor after the in-depth adjustment to the results framework, almost two years later. The project was designed under the context and circumstances of the GEF 5, where gender was not as emphasised as it is now. However, this TE has been developed according to the updated evaluation guidelines, leading into a gap, since it assesses issues that were not incorporated formally into the different implementation tools.

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