Final Evaluation for Wetlands Portfolio - National

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Evaluation Plan:
2016-2020, China
Evaluation Type:
Final Project
Planned End Date:
04/2019
Completion Date:
05/2019
Status:
Completed
Management Response:
Yes
Evaluation Budget(US $):
35,000

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Title Final Evaluation for Wetlands Portfolio - National
Atlas Project Number: 00069198
Evaluation Plan: 2016-2020, China
Evaluation Type: Final Project
Status: Completed
Completion Date: 05/2019
Planned End Date: 04/2019
Management Response: Yes
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
SDG Target
  • 15.1 By 2020, ensure the conservation, restoration and sustainable use of terrestrial and inland freshwater ecosystems and their services, in particular forests, wetlands, mountains and drylands, in line with obligations under international agreements
Evaluation Budget(US $): 35,000
Source of Funding:
Evaluation Expenditure(US $): 35,000
Joint Programme: No
Joint Evaluation: No
Evaluation Team members:
Name Title Nationality
James Lenoci Team Leader
Liu Shuo National Consultant
GEF Evaluation: Yes
GEF Project Title: CBPF-MSL: Strengthening the Management Effectiveness of the Sub-System of Wetland Protected Areas for Conservation of Globally Significant Biodiversity
Evaluation Type: Terminal Evaluation
Focal Area: Biodiversity
Project Type: FSP
GEF Phase: GEF-5
GEF Project ID: 4655
PIMS Number: 4391
Key Stakeholders: Ministry of Environment
Countries: CHINA, PEOPLE'S REPUBLIC
Lessons
Findings
1.

Considering that the project is promoting mainstreaming biodiversity among the key production sectors nationally, in the opinion of the MTR team, the project is also relevant according to Objective 2 of the GEF-5 Biodiversity Strategy, which is defined as “Mainstream Biodiversity Conservation and Sustainable Use into Production Landscapes, Seascapes and Sectors”. The objectives stated in the project document and the CEO Endorsement Request do not mention Objective 2 of the GEF-5 Biodiversity Strategy.


Tag: Crop production Biodiversity Global Environment Facility fund

2.

The project strategy was formulated according to the systemic, institutional, and financial barriers identified in the project document that are impeding effective management of wetland PAs in China. This is a logical approach.


Tag: Programme/Project Design Strategic Positioning

3.

Barrier 1, defined as “Insufficient Systemic and Institutional Capacity at the National Level” was addressed through Outcome 1, “Wetland PA Sub-System Strengthened through Better Ecological Representation and Enhanced Management Capacity”. The outputs and activities under Outcome 1 were sensibly formulated, in the opinion of the MTR team. There could have been more emphasis placed on advocacy built into the design of this outcome, as well as with other components of the project, in order to better highlight the added value of a GEF financed project.


Tag: Global Environment Facility fund Advocacy Capacity Building National Institutions

4.

Outcome 2, defined as “External threats to Wetland PAs reduced through mainstreaming wetland PA considerations in sector planning” was designed in response to Barrier 2, “Disconnect between the Wetland PA Sub-System and Development and Sector Planning”. Again, the project outcome is directly aligned with this barrier. The scope of the outcome, however, seems a bit beyond the reach of a 5-year project with less than USD 3 million in GEF funding. As discussed in the following section on the strategic results framework, achieving policy and planning reform in other line ministries, some of which are much larger than the SFA, is a bit unrealistic. Project stakeholders have realized this during implementation, and the focus of Outcome 2 has shifted towards developing guidelines approved by the SFA that will be applicable to other sectors.


Tag: Natural Resouce management Global Environment Facility fund Rule of law Trade and Development Policy Advisory

5.

Outcome 3, defined as “Increased knowledge management, lessons sharing, and awareness for wetland PAs” was designed in response to Barrier 3, “Insufficient Awareness, Knowledge and Access to Suitable Information”. The outputs under Outcome 3 were reasonably formulated, given the circumstances at the time the project was prepared, in 2011-2012. Due to both internal and external factors, the knowledge management strategy has changed. For example, social media has become an integral part of the lives of the general public and this information technology platform now represents the most efficient way to reach a broad audience.


Tag: Civic Engagement Communication Innovation Knowledge management Awareness raising Natural Resouce management

6.

Indicator No. 1 is relevant at the MSL Programme level, but not necessarily for the national project. The national project has somewhat of an oversight role with respect to the individual provincial level projects, but the project does not have any direct influence over the level of management effectiveness achieved at the site level by the provincial projects. The MTR team also feels that the application of the median METT score among the 41 protected areas is more appropriate than the average, which can be much more skewed as a result of low or high outliers.


Tag: Effectiveness Oversight Results-Based Management

7.

The phrasing of Indicator No. 1.1 was revised after the midterm review, to more accurately reflect the figures presented in the 2nd national wetland survey report.
Wide adoption of the EHI at the wetland PA sub-system is not sufficiently specific, and consequently does not lend itself to be easily measured. The interviewed PMO staff members and representatives of the contractors working on “fine-tuning” the EHI were also largely uncertain what the end goal of this indicator. If the goal is to have NFGA/DWM issue an agency level decision to adopt the EHI across the wetland PA system, then this would be achievable. The phrasing of the target for this indicator should be more clearly phrased.


Tag: Challenges Monitoring and Evaluation Results-Based Management

8.

The term “safeguard” used in the original version of Indicator No. 2.1 is not sufficiently specific; the meaning of this term in this context was unclear to the MTR team and also to the interviewed PMO staff members. Achieving of standards and/or procedures for each sector, e.g., water resources, agriculture, land resources, etc., is also not particularly achievable, as the project does not have activities designed to facilitate or even advocate for such regulatory or procedural sector reforms. The phrasing of this indicator was revised after the midterm review.


Tag: Challenges Monitoring and Evaluation Results-Based Management

9.

The activities originally planned under Indicator No. 3.1 have been revised over the course of the project through adaptive management, responding to the current needs of the DWM with respect to information management. The DWM has separately developed a wetland data management system, and has requested the project to support development of an information management system that is accessible to the general public. It would be advisable to revise the indicator and end-of-project target accordingly.


Tag: Natural Resouce management Monitoring and Evaluation Results-Based Management Data and Statistics

10.

3.3 Lessons learned and linkages with other projects
The project built upon the achievements and lessons learned of other projects, including the UNDP-GEF Wetlands Project (UNDP #520) which ran from 1999-2009; the WB-GEF Nature Reserve Management Project (1995-2000), the ADB Wetlands project.
The EU-China Biodiversity Programme (ECBP) was under implementation at the time when the project was developed. The ECBP included several pilots throughout the country on mainstreaming and demonstrating biodiversity conservation initiatives. Many of the lessons learned on the ECBP were reportedly integrated into the project design.


Tag: Biodiversity Natural Resouce management Global Environment Facility fund Knowledge management Programme Synergy Programme/Project Design

11.

3.4 Planned stakeholder participation
The project document includes a tabulated stakeholder analysis, which outlines the general roles and responsibilities of the listed stakeholders. The list is extensive and provides a reasonable level detail for many of the stakeholders. The project document also includes a stakeholder involvement plan, which provides descriptions of the stakeholder engagement mechanisms proposed by the project, such as the CBPF-MSL program steering and coordination forum, the project steering committee and the project management office. The stakeholder involvement plan also describes the proposed approaches for achieving long-term stakeholder participation, e.g., through capacity building, communication, knowledge sharing, etc.


Tag: Communication Knowledge management Partnership Programme/Project Design Capacity Building

12.

3.6 UNDP comparative advantage
The UNDP comparative advantage as the GEF agency was based on their extensive experience working in China, with in-country operations in Beijing, their favorable standing among national and provincial stakeholders and their institutional expertise in supporting biodiversity conservation projects. Protected areas remain one of the key focal areas of UNDP’s Ecosystems and Biodiversity team. UNDP has delivered extensive and continuous in-country support to the Chinese government and other partners in strengthening institutional and individual capacities with respect to biodiversity conservation, and the multitude of aspects centered on human development, including gender and social inclusion.


Tag: Biodiversity Global Environment Facility fund Gender Equality UNDP Management UNDP management Capacity Building National Institutions

13.

3.7 Management arrangements
The 5-year duration project is being run under a national implementation modality (NIM), with the State Forestry Administration (now the National Forestry and Grasslands Administration - NFGA) as the national implementing partner, or executing agency. UNDP is the GEF agency for the project, providing technical and administrative support to the SFA and operating in line with the Standard Basic Assistance Agreement between UNDP and the Government of China.


Tag: Global Environment Facility fund Implementation Modality UNDP Management UNDP management National Institutions

14.

NGFA is responsible for the execution of the project, providing support and inputs to the implementation of project activities, recruitment of project staff, and contracting of consultants and service providers, under the advice and involvement of UNDP as required by the contracting arrangements. The NFGA reports to the Project Steering Committee (PSC), which provides comprehensive guidance for project implementation, support and supervision, coordination and solving major issues in project implementation process to ensure the smooth implementation of the project.

The PSC is a joint body serving the MSL Program as well as the national project, and was established by the SFA’s General Administrative Office through its Document No. [2013]45 (Annex 4) on 12 November 2013.
The PSC comprises DG level representatives from UNDP China, FAO China, NFGA’s International Cooperation Department, five provincial forestry departments (Anhui, Hubei, Jiangxi, Hainan and Xinjiang), and Heilongjiang/Inner Mongolia Forestry Management Administrations.


Tag: Human and Financial resources Implementation Modality Project and Programme management

15.

The day-to-day administration of the project is carried out by the “national” Project Management Office (PMO). The PMO is a joint office, supporting the implementation of both the national level project and the Daxing’anling project, and is financed from the GEF and national cofinancing budgets. The Director General of the Department of Wetlands Management is the National Project Director (NPD) of project, and the Deputy President of the Academy of Forest Inventory and Planning of the NFGA serves as the Deputy NPD. The composition of the PMO indicted in the project design included the following staff members: Project Manager, Deputy Project Manager, Chief Technical Advisor, Communication Officer/Translator, and Administrative Assistant.


Tag: Human and Financial resources Implementation Modality Project and Programme management

16.

Key Achievements:
• Outputs 1.1 and 1.2 were addressed in one technical assistance consultancy, procured to a team of PA management experts. Deliverable includes recommendations for improvements to protected area regulations, including changes in zoning methodologies. On 23 January 2018, the Sixth Meeting of the Central Committee for Comprehensive and Deepening Reform deliberated and adopted the Guiding Opinions on the Establishment of Natural Protected Areas System with National Parks as the main body , Nature Reserves as the basis and various types of Ecological Parks (i.e., wetland parks, forest parks) as supplements.


Tag: Natural Resouce management Effectiveness Policy Advisory

17.

Key Achievements:
• By the end of 2017, protection of wetland ecosystems reached 49.03% of the 800 million mu (53.33 million ha) total wetland area; equating to 26.15 million ha of wetland PA’s.
• During the timeframe of 2013 to 2018, there were 600 new national level wetland parks established, increasing from 298 in 2013 to 898 in 2018 (see Figure 3).

• 16 new Ramsar sites declared in China during the time period of 2013-2018, including 3 among the 6 provincial MSL projects, and 6 Chinese cities designated as World Wetland Cities in 2018.


Tag: Natural Resouce management Effectiveness

18.

Issues/Challenges:
• The biodiversity values, connectivity and management effectiveness not well documented for wetland parks, which make up a large proportion of the newly established wetland PA’s.


Tag: Biodiversity Environmental impact assessment Challenges

19.

Key Achievements:
• 25 wetland PA’s were upgraded from provincial to national level over the period of 2013-2018 (see Table 11), including 3 among the 6 provincial projects under the MSL program.


Tag: Natural Resouce management Effectiveness

20.

Issues/Challenges:
• Unclear reporting among some of the child projects, differentiating between upgrades and newly established PA’s.


Tag: Challenges Monitoring and Evaluation

21.

Key Achievements:
• Through a technical assistance contract, experts at the Institute of Geographic Science and Natural Resources Research, CAS carried out a training needs assessment on wetland conservation and management. Based on the results of this needs assessment, the following 10 training modules were developed and delivered through several training sessions, reaching a total of more than 500 people according to incomplete statistics, Including the trainings organized by provincial projects and other GEF projects.


Tag: Effectiveness Global Climate Fund Capacity Building

22.

Issues/Challenges:
• It is unclear how the training program developed will be mainstreamed into the regular capacity development process of the DWM or other institutions.
• It is unclear how the protected area staff qualification criteria will be institutionalized.
• Limited documentation and dissemination of the results of the overseas learning exchanges


Tag: Challenges Knowledge management Capacity Building

23.

Key Achievements:
• The EHI tool that was developed during the project development phase was applied among the 6 provincial projects under the MSL program, providing practical guidance to wetland PA managers on using a rapid test to assess ecosystem health.
• Through a technical assistance consultancy, the EHI tool was revised to be less subjective than the original EHI. The revised EHI was piloted at a few sites, but not across all 6 of the child projects.


Tag: Environmental impact assessment Effectiveness

24.

Issues/Challenges:
• The EHI was not adopted as a regular management tool among the wetland PA’s under the MSL program or across the broader national wetland PA sub-system, and there is no clear pathway for mainstreaming the EHI after project closure.


Tag: Challenges Sustainability Sustainability

25.

Key Achievements:
• The project/program steering committee (PSC) provided an effective coordination mechanism for the project and for the program.
• Project information was shared with the National Ramsar Coordination Committee.


Tag: Effectiveness Knowledge management Coordination

26.

Issues/Challenges:
• A new cross-sectoral coordination body was not established because it was considered unlikely to maintain after project closure. The focus was on working with existing coordination bodies. This adaptive management measure was a reasonable response.
• The project document makes reference to the National Wetland Science and Technical Committee; there was no evidence that this committee was engaged during project implementation.


Tag: Challenges Partnership Coordination

27.

Key Achievements:
• Through a technical assistance consultancy, the project facilitated drafting of the National Wetland Conservation and Rehabilitation System Plan, which was approved in November 2016 by the SFA.
• Project resources supported a pilot on Wetland Dynamic Monitoring in Ningxia Autonomous Region through a technical assistance consultancy with the company Zhonglin International Co., Ltd. This output of this pilot provides valuable lessons for standardizing the technical approach for assessing wetland areas, including a combination of remote sensing based techniques with ground-truthing.


Tag: Natural Resouce management Protected Areas Effectiveness Innovation Technical Support

28.

Issues/Challenges:
• The consolidation of PA management to the NFGA as part of the 2018 governmental institutional restructurings mitigated some of the risks associated with having PA’s previously managed by several different ministries.
• There are no clear pathways for mainstreaming some of the developed guidelines, including the guideline on pollution control for wetland ecosystems.


Tag: Natural Resouce management Protected Areas Challenges

29.

Key Achievements:
• The project supported development of a methodology for valuation of wetland ecosystem services. A draft standard has been reviewed by an expert group and then submitted to the standard department of the NFGA in November 2018. Approval of the standard is expected in June 2019.
• Section 3.3 of the 13th 5-year Plan on Wetland Management, approved by the SFA in 2016, addresses implementation of effective eco-compensation programs for wetland ecosystems.


Tag: Environment Policy Natural Resouce management Effectiveness

30.

Issues/Challenges:
• After the standard is approved, it will be important to implement a proactive advocacy campaign among national and provincial level stakeholders. This would increase the likelihood that the methodology of valuing wetland ecosystem services will be mainstreamed across the relevant sectors.


Tag: Challenges Advocacy

31.

Key Achievements:
• Through a technical assistance consultancy, PA financing options were analyzed and recommendations made strengthen and diversity financing for management of wetland PA’s.


Tag: Effectiveness Resource mobilization Technical Support

32.

Issues/Challenges:
• The main deliverable under this output is more of a study report, rather than a wetland PA system financing plan.


Tag: Challenges Technical Support

33.

Key Achievements:
• Project resources were allocated in support of the development of a wetland PA information management system. A screenshot of the system under development by the Xinhua University is shown below in Figure 4.

• The contributions from the project focused on promoting public access to part of the information on the system. Approval is pending from the data security authority for granting public access.


Tag: Communication Human and Financial resources Technology Awareness raising Data and Statistics Civil Societies and NGOs

34.

Issues/Challenges:
• There is a reasonably high likelihood that public access approval will not be granted by project closure in September 2019. It will be necessary to ensure a champion is identified to actively advocate for the approval after closure.


Tag: Challenges Advocacy Data and Statistics Civil Societies and NGOs

35.

Key Achievements:
• The project organized several awareness campaigns, maintained a project website and produced and disseminated knowledge products. A representative sampling of the deliverables under this output is listed below.

  • o Organized an international wetlands conference in Haikou, December 2017.
  • o CCTV7 documentary film on alternative livelihoods in wetland PA’s.
  • o Helped organize the national contingent participating in the 13th COP of the Ramsar Convention in Dubai, 2018.
  • o Project website and linkage to the website of the DWM (Wetlands China)
  • o Brochures and awareness publications.
  • o Convened a roundtable workshop in 2017, which was reported in column in the publication China Green Times.
  • o Case study and lessons learned publication, issued in 2019, with 1,000 copies (to be printed and disseminated).

Tag: Effectiveness Communication Knowledge management

36.

Key Achievements:
• The project/program steering committee convened 5 times between November 2013 and March 2018. Consistent participation among high level officials on the project and UNDP.
• Cross visits, usually concurrent with the PSC meetings, organized to share experiences among the child projects.
• Frequent joint training and communication events, such as WeChat teleconferences organized among the child projects.


Tag: Effectiveness Communication Knowledge management Project and Programme management

37.

Issues/Challenges:
• Program level progress was not regularly reported. (lesson learned)


Tag: Challenges Monitoring and Evaluation

38.

The end-of-project assessment of the GEF-5 BD-1 tracking tool contains a compilation of METT scores from the target wetland PA’s on the six provincial child projects. The average METT score among the 42 PA’s was 66.9, exceeding the end target of 64. The TE team observed some inconsistencies in the METT scores for the Altai project (PIMS 4596), and the final assessment of achievement of this indicator is predicated on the PMO making a quality review of all 42 METT scores.
The TE team observed that the 42 wetland PA’s included in the METT assessment summary are nature reserves; wetland parks were not included. Considering that wetland parks make up the majority of the number new wetland PA’s, it will be important to address management effectiveness of this emerging type of PA. (Lesson learned)
With regarding to Indicator No. 2, there was no evidence that the METT has been adopted, or is planned to be adopted, as a mainstreamed management tool. The DWM is engaged in assessing the Ramsar sites using the Ramsar assessment tool, but these efforts seem confined to Ramsar sites.


Tag: Effectiveness Global Environment Facility fund Monitoring and Evaluation

39.

The end-of-project Capacity Development Scorecard assessments indicated overall scores of 77% for the NFGA and 80% for the MEE, exceeding and reaching the 75% and 80% end targets, respectively. An assessment was not made for the State Oceanic Administration (SOA) because this institution was moved under the NFGA as part of the 2018 governmental institutional restructurings.
It is important to point out that the capacity development assessment for the NFGA was for the DWM and the one for the MEE was for the Foreign Economic Cooperation Office (FECO) of the ministry. The Department of Protected Areas, the Department of National Parks and the SOA were not included in the NFGA assessment. And, it is unclear what role FECO has in terms of wetlands management. (Lesson learned)


Tag: Effectiveness Global Environment Facility fund Capacity Building

40.

By the end of 2017, the level of protection of wetland ecosystems reached 49.03%, exceeding the revised end target of 48%. The phrasing of this indicator remained unclear throughout the project; “coverage of natural wetlands in the national PA network”. In fact, the project has been measuring the percentage of total wetland ecosystems that are protected, i.e., within protected areas. The reference value of the total coverage of wetland ecosystems is 800 million mu (53.33 million ha), which is from the 2nd National Wetland Survey report (2013). 49.03% of the total coverage of wetland ecosystems is 26.15 million ha, representing an increase of 2.94 million ha from the baseline in 2013 of 43.51%.


Tag: Ecosystem based adaption Ecosystem services Natural Resouce management Protected Areas Effectiveness

41.

Regarding Indicator No. 5, the child projects utilized the Ecosystem Health Index (EHI) to assess ecosystem health of the target wetland PA’s, particularly nature reserves, and the project supported a technical assistance contract for development of a revised EHI that is less subjective in nature. Although the EHI assessments were useful activities for the local PA managers and provided valuable guidance for focusing resources, there was no evidence that the EHI has been adopted as a management tool, either among the child projects or across the broader wetland PA system. And, there is no evidence that the DWM or other enabling stakeholders are promoting the revised EHI as a management tool.


Tag: Ecosystem based adaption Ecosystem services Environmental impact assessment Natural Resouce management

42.

The National Wetland Conservation and Rehabilitation Systems Plan, approved by the SFA (NFGA) in November 2016 is a significant achievement, and each of the 31 provinces have since developed implementation plans accordingly. Another important governmental decision during the course of the project is the national standard on establishing wetlands as an official land use category (National Standard GB/T21010-2017) by the Ministry of Land Resources. This standard has far-reaching benefits, as wetlands will now be officially represented on land use plans and local governments will be better enabled to protect wetland ecosystems, e.g., through redlining.


Tag: Ecosystem based adaption Natural Resouce management Protected Areas Rule of law Policy Advisory

43.

As recorded in the GEF-5 BD-1 tracking tool end-of-project assessment, governmental financing for operation of wetland PA’s in 2017 was USD 130 million, or USD 2.5/ha, which is an increase from the baseline figure in 2012 of USD 35.17 million, or USD 0.71/ha. There is an inconsistency in Section III (Financial Sustainability Scorecard) of the tracking tool. The total coverage of wetland PA’s is indicated to be 52,033,656 ha in the tracking tool. The total area of wetland ecosystems in the country is 53.33 million ha, according to the 2nd national wetland survey, and 49.03% (26.15 million ha) of those were under protection by the end of 2017. The figure indicated in the tracking tool should be reassessed.


Tag: Natural Resouce management Protected Areas Government Cost-sharing Resource mobilization

44.

Project resources funded technical assistance for development of a methodology for valuation of wetland ecosystem services, and a draft standard has been reviewed by an expert group and then submitted to the standard department of the NFGA in November 2018. Approval of the standard is expected in June 2019. This is an important achievement; for example, this standard could potentially be used to determine compensations for development of wetland ecosystems. The end target of establishing new sustainable PA financing mechanisms was not achieved – and likely overly ambitious for a 5 or 6 year duration project.


Tag: Environmental impact assessment Natural Resouce management Protected Areas Effectiveness Technical Support

45.

Project resources contributed to the development of a wetland PA information management platform, prepared by experts from the Xinhua University. The specific added value of the project was to promote public access to wetland information, and certain sections of the system were developed to allow public access. Public access is pending approval from the data security authorities; there is particular scrutiny on maps being made available publicly. Approval is expected to be achieved before project closure in September 2019; there is a moderate chance that additional time will be needed before approval is granted.


Tag: Civic Engagement Communication Innovation Data and Statistics

46.

An end-of-project knowledge, practices and attitudes (KAP) survey was made in February 2019 by the same institution (China Agricultural University) that made the baseline KAP survey in 2012. The overall result of the end-of-project KAP survey was 84%, exceeding the end target of 82%. The respondents to the end-of-project survey are summarized below.

  • • 32 government officials, including the NFGA, Ministry of Finance, National Development and Reform Commission, Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Areas, Ministry of Natural Resources, Ministry of Ecology and Environment, International Poverty Reduction Center of China, etc.
  • • 41 managers and technicians from brand enterprises
  • • 50 managers and staff from famous NGO
  • • 43 journalists and from the main media in Beijing
  • • 50 university students in Beijing

The surveyed stakeholders are consistent with those included in the baseline survey. It might have been advisable to include more people outside of Beijing, as the survey was meant to be a national level representation.


Tag: Effectiveness Knowledge management

47.

Project coordination was successfully achieved, through convening regular steering group meetings, organizing cross visits among the child projects, holding joint training activities, maintaining a project website and facilitating frequent joint communication activities.


Tag: Effectiveness Communication Knowledge management Project and Programme management Coordination

48.

4.2.2 Relevance

Relevance is rated as: Highly Satisfactory
The importance of wetland ecosystems has been substantively elevated over the past 5-6 years. Between 2012 and the end of 2017, approx. 2.94 million ha of new wetland PA’s have been established. A National Wetlands Conservation and Rehabilitation Systems Plan was approved in 2016 and each of the 31 provinces have since developed implementation plans. In 2017, the Ministry of Land Resources approved adding wetlands as a separate land use category. The timing of the GEF funding was opportune in this time and the project addressed the key barriers highlighted in the project design as hindering effective management of the national sub-system of wetland PA’s.


Tag: Natural Resouce management Protected Areas Relevance Global Environment Facility fund Policy Advisory National Institutions

49.

The project was approved under the GEF-5 replenishment cycle and was closely aligned to the GEF-5 Biodiversity Strategy, specifically Objective 1, “Improve Sustainability of Protected Area Systems”, Outcome 1.1, “Improved management effectiveness of existing and new protected areas” and Outcome 1.2, “Increased revenue for protected area systems to meet total expenditures required for management.”


Tag: Biodiversity Relevance Global Environment Facility fund

50.

And, the project objective is consistent with the strategic directions outlined in the National Biodiversity Conservation Strategy and Action Plan (NBCSAP) and closely aligned with Outcome 1 of the 2011-2015 United Nations Development Assistance Framework (UNDAF) for China: “Government and other stakeholders ensure environmental sustainability, address climate change, and promote a green, low-carbon economy”.


Tag: Climate Change Adaptation Green Economy Relevance Strategic Positioning UN Agencies

51.

At project entry, the project objective was consistent with two outcomes of the 2011-2015 UNDP Country Programme Document for China: Outcome 4: “Low carbon and other environmentally sustainable strategies and technologies are adapted widely to meet China’s commitments and compliance with Multilateral Environmental Agreements”; and Outcome 5: “The vulnerability of poor communities and ecosystems to climate change is reduced”. The project remains relevant with respect to the priorities outlined in the 2016-2020 UNDP Country Programme Document, specifically Output 2.1, “China’s actions on climate change mitigation, biodiversity and chemicals across sectors are scaled up, funded and implemented”.


Tag: Climate Change Adaptation Emission Reduction Biodiversity Ecosystem based adaption Environment Policy Relevance Country Government Poverty Alleviation

52.

4.2.3 Efficiency

Efficiency is rated as: Moderately Satisfactory
Supporting Evidence:

  • The GEF funding addressed the key barriers highlighted in the project design.
  • Satisfactorily achieved the intended project outcomes within the allocated budget and timeframe.
  • Materialized cofinancing exceeds confirmed amount at project entry.
  • Financial delivery 55% and 51% in 2017 and 2018, respectively.
  • 15% of GEF project grant unspent as of 31 March 2019.
  • Shortcomings regarding institutionalization several of the project outputs.

As of 31 March 2019, total project expenditures incurred were USD 2,261,651, or 85% of the USD 2,654,771 GEF grant
for implementation, as broken down below in Table 17.


Tag: Efficiency Global Environment Facility fund Government Cost-sharing Operational Efficiency

53.

Spending has been generally consistent across the project components, with respect to the indicative budget included in the Project Document. Actual expenditures for Component 2 have been USD 811,449 through 31 March 2019, compared to the USD 1,100,000 indicative budget. Considering the operational closure date of 24 September 2019, most of the balance of USD 393,120 is expected to be expended in Q2 and Q3 2019. Financial delivery was good during the first three full years of project implementation, at 97%, 98% and 87% in 2014, 2015 and 2016, respectively (see Figure 5). Delivery decreased in 2017 and 2018 to 55% and 51%, respectively.


Tag: Efficiency Human and Financial resources Operational Efficiency

54.

On 19 March 2018, the SFA sent a request to the UNDP for a one-year, no-cost time extension. Among the reasons justifying the requested time extension, 4 of the 7 child projects had closure dates later than the national project, which has the role of program coordination (lesson learned). The UNDP approved the extension on 6 June 2018. The extended closure date of the project is 24 September 2019. Moderate efficiency gains were also achieved as a result of the decreasing value of the Chinese yuan against the US dollar over the course of the project. At the project start date on 24 September 2013, the USD:CNY exchange rate was 6.13678 and by the time of the terminal evaluation, 30 April 2019, the exchange rate was 6.73123 (see Figure 6).


Tag: Efficiency Operational Efficiency Project and Programme management

55.

According the project asset report with the effective date of 31 December 2016, the cumulative purchase value of assets procured were USD 5,923.95 for assets acquired below a value of USD 1,500 and USD 7,151.62 for assets acquired above a value of USD 1,500. The purchased assets include desktop and laptop computers and digital cameras.
Independent financial audits have been completed of the project to demonstrate due diligence in the management of funds. Audit reports by the auditing company Mazars Certified Public Accountants for fiscal years 2015 and 2016 were provided to the TE team for review. No findings or observations were noted in the 2015 audit report. The 2016 audit report included one low level risk associated with the timeliness of recording expenses; the project management response accepted the observation and pledged to improve the timeliness of recording expenses.
One of the factors that diminished project efficiency is the fact that several of the project outputs have not been effectively institutionalized and there are no clear pathways for mainstreaming them after project closure. These include the revised EHI tool, the guideline on pollution control, training program, PA staff qualification standards.


Tag: Efficiency Human and Financial resources Monitoring and Evaluation Operational Efficiency

56.

4.3 Sustainability
Sustainability is generally considered to be the likelihood of continued benefits after the GEF funding ends. Under GEF criteria each sustainability dimension is critical, i.e., the overall ranking cannot be higher than the lowest one.

Overall: Likelihood that benefits will continue to be delivered after project closure: Likely

Supporting Evidence:

  • National Wetland Conservation and Rehabilitation System Plan, November 2016.
  • 13th 5-year Plan on National Wetlands Protection, November 2016 (SFA).
  • Official decision to include wetlands as a land use category, Ministry of Land Resources, 2017.
  • Establishment of the Department of Wetlands Management (DWM), NFGA (2018)
  • CNY 2 billion (approx. USD 300 million) budget for the DWM/NFGA, 2018
  • Strengthened institutional capacities (NFGA, MEE)
  • Increased protection of wetland ecosystems, with 2.94 million ha of new wetland PA’s established.
  • Increased awareness of the importance of wetlands (KAP survey in 2019: 84%; baseline: 52% in 2012).
  • Strengthened management effectiveness and improved ecosystem health of wetland PA’s.
  • Limited project involvement by the Department of Protected Areas (NFGA) and Ministry of Ecology and Environment.
  • Insufficient penalties for non-compliance infractions within wetland ecosystems.
  • Continued development pressures on wetlands in many parts of the country.
  • Long-term impacts of climate change.

Tag: Sustainability Sustainability

57.

Financial Dimension:

Likelihood that benefits will continue to be delivered after project closure: Likely

With respect to the financial dimension of sustainability, the likelihood that generated benefits will continue to be delivered after project closure is rated as likely. The Government of China has steadily increased financing for wetlands conservation and rehabilitation. For instance, the annual budget in 2018 for the Department of Wetlands Management reached CNY 2 billion (approx. USD 300 million), which covers investments in national level wetland parks and eco-compensation programs such as conversion of farmland to wetlands. Moreover, the reported4 financing available for operation of wetland PA’s in 2017 was USD 130 million, or USD 2.5/ha, which is an increase from the baseline figure in 2012 of USD 35.17 million, or USD 0.71/ha.
Governmental project cofinancing slightly exceed the sum confirmed at project entry; USD 16 million materialized, compared to USD 15.9 million confirmed.
Participation of NGOs and foundations in wetland conversation has also increased, and corporate social responsibility contributions from the business sector are being directed to environmental improvement programs.
The concept of volunteerism is also increasing in China, particularly in the more affluent, urban areas. Engaging volunteers in supporting PA management is in the early stages, however.


Tag: Sustainability Government Cost-sharing Civic Engagement Sustainability Civil Societies and NGOs

58.

Socioeconomic Dimension:

Likelihood that benefits will continue to be delivered after project closure: Likely

The socioeconomic dimension of sustainability is rated as likely.
As measured in the end-of-project knowledge, attitudes and practices (KAP) survey, awareness has increased sharply among surveyed stakeholders. The overall end-of-project KAP survey score was 84%, up from the baseline score of 52% in 2012.
The number of national level wetland parks increased from 298 in 2012 to 898 in 2018, and there are many other provincial level wetland parks. Public benefits are a key element of wetland parks, offering eco-tourism and environmental education experiences for local communities.
The Government of China has eco-compensation funds, which have supported local governments and local farmers in areas designated as key ecological function zones and priority conservation areas.

 


Tag: Natural Resouce management Protected Areas Tourism Sustainability Sustainability Education

59.

Institutional Framework and Governance Dimension:

Likelihood that benefits will continue to be delivered after project closure: Likely

There are several factors that enhance the sustainability likelihood with respect to the institutional framework and governance influencing a rating of likely for this dimension.
The National Wetland Conservation and Rehabilitation System Plan approved in November 2016 provides a practical framework, and each of the 31 provinces have since developed provincial level implementation plans.
The 2017 decision by the Ministry of Land Resources to include wetlands as an official land use category significantly enhances the prospects for sustained conservation of wetland ecosystems. Wetlands will be officially included in the third national land survey scheduled to start in 2019, which will better enable local governments include wetland ecosystems in their redlining processes.
The creation in 2018 of the Department of Wetlands Management (DWM), under the NFGA is an important step in elevating wetland conservation to the government department level, which further enhances sustainability. And, the consolidation of management responsibility of all types of protected areas under the NFGA further strengthens the institutional framework with respect to PA management.
The 13th 5-year plan (2016-2020) on National Wetland Protection approved in November 2016 by SFA (now the NFGA) further enhances sustainability by providing a framework for resource allocation for wetland conservation and rehabilitation.


Tag: Natural Resouce management Protected Areas Sustainability Local Governance Rule of law National Institutions Regional Institutions

60.

Wetlands management (weighted at 1.83%) was included among the green development indicator (GDI) system implemented in 2016. The performance of all local governments is assessed according to the GDI system and the inclusion of wetlands management is an effective way to promote ownership of wetland related issues.
As measured by the UNDP Capacity Development Scorecard, the institutional capacities of the DWM/NFGA and the Foreign Economic Cooperation Office (FECO) division of the Ministry of Ecology and Environment (MEE) increased from baselines of 50% and 54% in 2012 to 77% and 80% in 2019, respectively.


Tag: Sustainability Sustainability Capacity Building National Institutions

61.

Environmental Dimension:

Likelihood that benefits will continue to be delivered after project closure: Likely

The environmental dimension of sustainability is rated as likely. Protection of wetland ecosystems has increased from 43.51% in 2013 to 49.03% by the end of 2017, representing an expansion of the national sub-system of wetland PA’s of 2.94 million ha. This increased coverage strengthens protection of globally significant biodiversity and national and regionally important ecosystem functions.
As measured by the GEF-5 adapted METT, management effectiveness of the 38 wetland PA’s, covering a cumulative area of 2.499 million ha, included among the 5 MSL child projects increased on average from 47% in 2012 to 66.9% in 2018. Ecosystem health, as measured by the ecosystem health index (EHI) of these same PA’s increased on average from 0.52 in 2012 to 0.75 in 2018. Considering the wide variation in wetland types among the child projects, these results are a reasonable proxy for the national sub-system of wetland PA’s.
Increased protection and management effectiveness also strengthen the resilience of wetlands and the local communities that depend on the associated ecosystem goods and services to the impacts of climate change. The national peatland survey made in key provinces in 2016 provides further adaptation benefits, through increased knowledge of wetland ecosystems. Climate change is largely unpredictable, however, and the possible long-term impacts pose risks to wetland across China.
There are also environmental risks associated with the continued development pressures in China. The national redlining process is one tool that is being implemented to help mitigate unsustainable development; however, implementation of redlining remains a work-in-progress.


Tag: Climate Change Adaptation Biodiversity Natural Resouce management Protected Areas Sustainability Global Environment Facility fund Civil Societies and NGOs

62.

4.4 Progress towards impact
Environmental Stress Reduction:
The project focused on strengthening the enabling environment at the national level for effective management of the wetland PA sub-system. There are examples of environmental stress reduction, including:
• Expansion of the wetland PA sub-system by 2.94 million ha.
• Improvements in management effectiveness, as measured by the GEF-5 adapted management effectiveness tracking tool (METT), of the 42 wetland nature reserves situated in 5 provinces and having a cumulative area of 1,035,645 ha. This set of wetland PA’s is considered a proxy of the national wetland PA sub-system.


Tag: Biodiversity Natural Resouce management Protected Areas Impact Local Governance

63.

Environmental Status Change:
There has been environmental status change confirmed among the MSL child projects, including:
• Improvements in ecosystem health of wetland nature reserves, as measured by the Ecosystem Health Index (EHI).
• Stable or increasing populations of threatened wildlife.
• Reclamation of abandoned mining sites and regeneration of native vegetation.


Tag: Mine Action Environmental impact assessment Natural Resouce management Protected Areas Wildlife Conservation Impact

64.

Contributions to Changes in Policy/Legal/Regulatory Enabling Frameworks:
Significant advances to enabling policies occurred in recent years, including the following:
• National Wetlands Conservation and Rehabilitation System Plan (2016), NFGA.
• National standard on officially including wetlands as a land use category (2017), Ministry of Land Resources.
• Draft standard on the methodology for valuation of wetland ecosystem services, NFGA (pending approval).


Tag: Impact Rule of law Advocacy Policy Advisory

65.

Arrangements to Facilitate Follow-up Actions:
Conservation and rehabilitation of wetland ecosystems are directly covered in the mandate of the Department of Wetlands Management.
The 13th 5-year Plan of Wetlands Conservation and Rehabilitation (SFA/NFGA) approved in 2016 provides an official framework and basis for budget allocation over the period of 2016-2020.


Tag: Impact Government Cost-sharing

66.

Replication:
The National Wetlands Conservation and Rehabilitation System Plan developed under the project and approved by the SFA (NFGA) in 2016 has spurred provincial level implementation plans in each of the 31 provinces / autonomous regions.
The national standard on designating wetlands as an official land use category will be applied nationwide; wetlands will be included as a separate land use category in land use plans of local governments throughout China.
National wetland PA information management system offers a national level platform for sharing best practice across the wetland PA system.


Tag: Impact Sustainability Rule of law Knowledge management Sustainability National Institutions Regional Institutions

67.

5 Assessment of Monitoring & Evaluation Systems
5.1 M&E Design

Monitoring and Evaluation design at entry is rated as: Satisfactory

The M&E plan was developed using the standard UNDP template for GEF-financed projects.
The estimated cost for implementation of the M&E plan, as recorded in the project document, is USD 184,000, which is approximately 6.9% of the USD 2,654,771 GEF grant. More than 50% of the M&E budget was allocated for the midterm review and terminal evaluation, at USD 50,000 each. USD 10,000 was included for the inception workshop, and another USD 15,000 was slated for measurement of means of verification for project purpose indicators at the inception phase. As there is no evidence that changes were made to baseline figures in the strategic results framework, it is uncertain if this cost was incurred. The budget for the M&E plan also includes USD 40,000, at USD 8,000 per year, for measurement of means of verification of project progress and performance.
Having the role of program coordination, it would have been advisable to disaggregate the M&E plan for the project and program (lesson learned).


Tag: Global Environment Facility fund Human and Financial resources Monitoring and Evaluation

68.

5.2 M&E implementation

Implementation of Monitoring and Evaluation Plan is rated as: Satisfactory

Implementation of the M&E plan improved through the implementation phase. Following the midterm review, the PMO hired a part-time M&E Officer and new quality control procedures were developed and applied for review of project deliverables, including consultancy reports, knowledge products and tracking tools. The Financial Scorecard (Part II of the GEF-5 Financial Sustainability Scorecard) was commendably filled out. Other parts of this scorecard contained inconsistences, e.g., the coverage of the national wetland PA system. And, METT assessments on the Altai child project (PIMS 4596) were found to contain several erroneous and inconsistent entries. The project should have implemented more effective program level quality control on tracking tools and other M&E tools.
The project progress reports, particularly the annual project implementation review (PIR) reports were the main mechanisms reporting M&E results on the project. The PIR reports were thoroughly prepared, with inputs from the Project Manager, lead implementing partner and the UNDP, as the GEF implementing agency.


Tag: Human and Financial resources Monitoring and Evaluation Project and Programme management

69.

Tracking Tools:
The tracking tools under Objective 1 of the GEF-5 Biodiversity Strategy were applied to this project. With respect to Section I of the tracking tool, there are some inconsistencies in the figures presented as wetland protected areas. For instance, marine protected areas covering coral reef and oceanic (areas beyond the Economic Exclusive Zone, EEZ) ecosystems were included; these are not wetlands. And, the total coverage of wetland protected areas indicated in the tracking tool is incorrect; the figure presented in the 2017 assessment is 52,033,656 ha. The 2nd national wetland survey reported that there are an estimated 800 million mu (53.33 million ha) of wetland ecosystems in the country, and by the end of 2017, 49.03% or 26.15 million ha were under protection.
With regard to Section II of the tracking tool, which includes the management effectiveness tracking tool (METT), the national project reported the individual METT scores for the wetland PA’s included among the six provincial projects under the MSL program. Inconsistencies have been reported for some of METT assessments (e.g., for the Altai project, PIMS 4596). Considering the program coordination role of the national project, it would have been advisable to implement a quality control process for the individual METT scores among the child projects (lesson learned).
The Financial Scorecard (Part II) of the Financial Sustainability Scorecard (Section III of the tracking tool) was very well done, with detailed comments included for each entry and realistic scores applied throughout (good practice). Some of the entries in Part I of the Financial Sustainability Scorecard are not fully vetted, including the total area of the national sub-system of wetland PA’s and the estimations of basic and optimal financing needs, which assume USD 1 million per PA and USD 2 million per PA, respectively.


Tag: Environmental impact assessment Challenges Innovation Monitoring and Evaluation Technology

70.

Midterm review:
The midterm review (MTR) of the project was completed in 2016 and the management response issued by the PMO on 01 December 2016. The MTR presented a comprehensive assessment of progress made and several recommendations were made for improving project performance and enhancing the likelihood for sustainability of results. The recommendations from the midterm review were satisfactorily addressed by the project team during the second half of the implementation timeframe, as summarized below in Table 18.


Tag: Monitoring and Evaluation

71.

6 Assessment of Implementation and Execution

6.1 Quality of implementation

Quality of Implementation (UNDP) is rated as: Satisfactory

The quality of implementation by UNDP as the GEF agency on this project is rated as satisfactory. UNDP has provided support throughout the project life cycle, from conceptualization to project development and throughout implementation.

The UNDP Country Office (CO) provided strategic guidance to the project, and the Environment and Energy Program Manager participated in each of the project steering committee meetings. The UNDP CO also provided extensive implementation support to the implementing partner; including procurement, contracting and financial administration. There could have been broader involvement of the UNDP CO, e.g., with respect to gender mainstreaming, consistent with the institutional strength of UNDP in human development issues. There was also room for improvement with respect to program level reporting and program quality control and backstopping regarding the application of GEF tracking tools and other M&E tools, including the UNDP Capacity Development Scorecard.

 


Tag: Effectiveness Implementation Modality Project and Programme management UNDP Management UNDP management

72.

6.2 Quality of execution

Quality of Execution (NFGA) is rated as: Satisfactory

The quality of execution by the NFGA is rated as satisfactory. The key positions of National Project Director, Deputy Project Director, Project Manager, Deputy Project Manager and Chief Technical Advisor remained consistent throughout the duration of the implementation. Such consistency adds to the coherency of the project execution.

Following the midterm review, a Project Assistant and part-time M&E Officer were recruited, further strengthening the quality of project execution. There were concerns raised at the midterm review of the Project Manager being part-time on the project and also sharing his time with management of the Daxing’anling child project (PIMS 4824). Full-sized GEF projects should have full-time project managers, in the opinion of the TE team (Lesson learned).


Tag: Effectiveness Implementation Modality Project and Programme management

73.

7.2 Materialization of cofinancing
The amount of cofinancing that has reportedly materialized during project implementation is USD 16,904,935, which exceeds the USD 16,800,000 confirmed at project entry (see Annex 6).
Government cash cofinancing totaled USD 12,000,897, and included costs associated with wetland monitoring and management, a nationally implemented peatland survey made in key provinces and supporting budgets related to implementation of the Ramsar Convention and other international cooperation projects. In-kind government cofinancing totaled USD 4,004,038, and included office rental, office equipment and services, and staff time and travel related costs.
Grant cofinancing from UNDP did not materialized as planned. Without TRAC allocation, grant cofinancing from UNDP could not be mobilized. The UNDP has reported in-kind cofinancing as part of the UNDP-CICETE7-Coca Cola Partnership on Water Governance that has been implemented since 2013, and the second 5-year phase was approved in 2018. The water governance program has funded water conservation projects throughout China, on pollution control, promotion of sustainable agriculture, demonstration of innovative wastewater treatment, rehabilitation of degraded wetlands, etc.; for example, the program supported the development of a constructed wetland treatment system in Inner Mongolia (see Figure 7). The TE team concurs that the scope of this program is consistent with the project and program objectives and the benefits of implementing best practice water conservation approaches extends throughout the country.
The project did not maintain a regular tracking system for project cofinancing. The limited tracking of cofinancing contributions also implies that there might have been missed opportunities with other potential cofinancing partners. (Lesson learned)


Tag: Challenges Government Cost-sharing Country Government UNDP Management UNDP management

74.

7.3 Environmental and social safeguards
Social and environmental risks were screened as part of the project development phase, using the UNDP screening tool (included in the Project Document as Annex 9). The screening concluded that the project risks fell within Category 1, defined as: “The proposed project includes activities and outputs that support upstream planning processes that potentially pose environmental and social impacts or are vulnerable to environmental and social change (refer to Table 3.1) but as the proposed project ONLY includes upstream planning processes and not downstream planning processes then no further screening is needed”, and no further risk assessments were made.


Tag: Challenges Project and Programme management Risk Management

75.

7.4 Gender concerns
A gender analysis and action plan were not made at the project preparation phase, and none of the performance indicators in the project results framework were disaggregated by gender. The 2015 PIR report indicates that a gender mainstreaming plan was to be prepared, but there was no evidence of the plan or mention in the subsequent PIR reports.
The 2018 PIR report includes a discussion of the number of women on the PMO (7 women, 3 men), and provides a brief summary of women’s role in society and the importance of increasing awareness and knowledge of women regarding biodiversity conservation. Considering that the MSL child projects identified gender equality and women’s empowerment as risks on the projects, it would have been advisable to have developed a program level gender analysis and action plan, as part of the Project Document for the national project. Apart from mainstreaming gender issues on the project, one of the proposed actions might have been to address gender equality and women’s empowerment in the national wetland conservation and rehabilitation systems plan and the 13th 5-year plan on wetland protection. (Lesson learned)


Tag: Gender Equality Gender Mainstreaming Gender Parity Women's Empowerment Monitoring and Evaluation Results-Based Management

76.

7.5 Indigenous peoples (ethnic minorities)
An indigenous peoples (ethnic minorities) plan was not made at the project preparation phase, and none of the performance indicators in the project results framework included reference to ethnic minorities.
The 2018 PIR report includes a discussion of how Evenki ethnic minorities were supported under the Daxing’anling project, which is a separate full-sized GEF project but managed by the national project PMO. There were ethnic minorities included in some of the wetland PA landscapes under some of the other MSL child projects.
It would have been advisable to have developed a program level ethnic minorities plan or include in as part of the stakeholder engagement plan, as part of the Project Document for the national project. Apart from mainstreaming ethnic minority issues on the project, one of the proposed actions might have been to address inclusion of ethnic minorities in the national wetland conservation and rehabilitation systems plan and the 13th 5-year plan on wetland protection. (Lesson learned)


Tag: Natural Resouce management Protected Areas Challenges Programme/Project Design Indigenous people

77.

7.7 Stakeholder engagement
The project did a reasonably good job with stakeholder engagement, particularly with respect to bringing together stakeholders among the child projects through convening rotating steering committee meetings and organizing cross-visits among the different project sits. Provincial stakeholders were provided opportunities to engage with counterparts in other partners that are typically not available to them. For example, stakeholders in Xinjiang province have limited changes to interact with eastern provinces, including Hainan, Hubei and Anhui provinces.
There were some shortcomings with respect to stakeholder involvement. For example, there was limited involvement of the Department of Protected Areas at the NFGA (and the predecessor department at the now defunct SFA). The main project partner was the Department of Wetlands Management, which is responsible for national wetland parks. The 898 wetland parks have a cumulative area of 3,445,900 ha, which is <15% of the total area of wetland PA’s. Nature reserves comprise the highest proportion of wetland PA’s and these are managed by the Department of Protected Areas. A third department at NFGA, the Department of National Parks, is an important partner for future projects, as wetland ecosystems are included among the 11 pilot national parks and are likely to increase as more national parks are established in the coming years. (Lesson learned)
The stakeholder involvement plan in the project document mentions of the National Wetland Science and Technical Committee; there was no evidence of engagement with this committee. In terms of engagement with NGOs, apart from Wetlands International, which was a contracted project partner, there was limited engagement with international and national NGOs.


Tag: Effectiveness Partnership Coordination Civil Societies and NGOs Indigenous people National Institutions Private Sector Regional Institutions

78.

The achievability of the end-of-project target for Indicator No. 2, i.e., 20% of the country’s wetland PAs adopting the METT as a regular monitoring tool, is questionable and unrealistic for this project. Facilitating a decision by the SFA to adopt the METT as a tool would have been a more meaningful target, considering the project is running only for 5 years, and in practice this would facilitate uptake of the METT across up to 100% of wetland PAs.
 


Tag: Monitoring and Evaluation Results-Based Management

79.

The project has had limited activities aimed at strengthening the capacity of other line agencies, including the Ministry of Environmental Protection (MEP) and the State Oceanic Administration (SOA), with respect to conservation and management of wetlands. Assigning an objective level indicator that aims to increase the capacities of these other, major agencies seems less relevant and possibly also unachievable.


Tag: Natural Resouce management Capacity Building National Institutions

80.

Achieving new sustainable financing mechanisms, within the budgetary and time constraints of the project, as recorded in Indicator No. 2.2 is also unlikely. Realizing new financing mechanisms requires extensive and time-consuming governmental consultation, and beyond the scope of this project.


Tag: Sustainability Resource mobilization

81.

Application of a Knowledge, Attitudes, and Practices (KAP) survey is a quantitative, objective way to measure public awareness. It would have been advisable to disaggregate this indicator by gender.
 


Tag: Civic Engagement Knowledge management Awareness raising Data and Statistics

82.

Indicator No. 3.3 is firstly not particularly measurable, for all aspects of the end-of-project target. For instance, “lessons documented and shared widely” is fairly open to interpretation. Establishment of a Wetland PA Coordination Forum does not seem relevant, considering that the national Ramsar Coordination Committee partly fulfils this role, and there does not seem to be any interest or progress in establishing a separate forum.


Tag: Challenges Monitoring and Evaluation Results-Based Management

83.

The in-house specialists within the Energy and Environment team at the UNDP Country Office supported the project during the preparation and implementation phase, and senior management in the CO provided strategic guidance. The UNDP Regional Technical Advisor provided high level advisory services, e.g., through sharing best practices and lessons learned from the large portfolio of GEF biodiversity projects supported by UNDP.


Tag: Biodiversity Energy Natural Resouce management Global Climate Fund Human and Financial resources

84.

• The project supported 2 training Ramsar Convention training events, one in October 2016 and the other in October 2017. Topics included demonstration of the METT and presentation of methodologies for valuation of wetland ecosystem services.
• Through a technical assistance contract with Wetlands International, the overseas learning exchanges were organized:


Tag: Natural Resouce management Capacity Building

85.
  • o 22-28 Sep 2015, learning exchange to the United Kingdom, five participants from China.
  • o Nov 2016, learning exchange to Brazil, 6 participants from China.
  • o Dec 2016, learning exchange to New Zealand and Australia, 6 participants from China.
  • o Aug 2016-Jan 2017, fellowship learning exchange to USA, two participants from China.
  • o December 2017 to May 2018, fellowship learning exchange to Malaysia, two participants from China.

Tag: Education Capacity Building

86.

• A compilation of protected area staff qualification criteria was prepared through a technical assistance agreement with the National Highland Wetland Research Center at the Southwest Forestry University. The recommended criteria have not yet been approved or piloted.


Tag: Natural Resouce management Results-Based Management Technical Support

87.

• Other guidelines were developed under this output, including: Guideline on conducting fishing, aquaculture farming in wetland PAs and surrounding areas; and Guideline on pollution control for lakes, rivers, pools and ponds in China.


Tag: Aquaculture Natural Resouce management Water resources

88.

There are a few factors that diminish the prospects of sustainability, including continued development pressure in many parts of China. The decision in 2017 to include wetlands as an official land use category has wide-reaching benefits in facilitating protection of wetland ecosystems, e.g., through the redlining process.
Collaborative co-management of wetland PA’s has been demonstrated throughout the child projects under the MSL program as a way to engage local communities and thereby reducing threats to wetland ecosystems. These modalities remain in the early phase in China, and substantial more time and effort will be required to mainstream co-management as a viable management approach. As evident among some of the MSL child projects, local NGOs and foundations are working with communities in facilitating collaborative PA management arrangements and strengthening alternative livelihood ventures. These stakeholders are important enabling partners at the grassroots level.


Tag: Sustainability Local Governance Sustainability Civil Societies and NGOs

89.

There are existing coordination mechanisms that enhance governance of wetland Pas; these include the National Ramsar Coordination Committee and the National Biodiversity Coordination Committee.
There are a few factors that diminish the sustainability likelihood. There was limited involvement of the Department of Protected Areas (NFGA) and this department’s predecessor under the former SFA. This department is responsible for management of the nature reserve system in the country which comprise a significant proportion of the national sub-system of wetland PA’s. Moreover, there was limited direct involvement of the MEE on this project, even though there was a specific target for improving their capacity in terms of wetland management.
Based on interviews made by the TE team, a common issue raised among provincial stakeholders was the insufficient level of penalties for non-compliance infractions committed in wetland ecosystems. There is a need to increase penalties and fines.


Tag: Biodiversity Sustainability Rule of law Coordination

90.

The UNDP Country Office (CO) provided strategic guidance to the project, and the Environment and Energy Program Manager participated in each of the project steering committee meetings. The UNDP CO also provided extensive implementation support to the implementing partner; including procurement, contracting and financial administration. There could have been broader involvement of the UNDP CO, e.g., with respect to gender mainstreaming, consistent with the institutional strength of UNDP in human development issues. There was also room for improvement with respect to program level reporting and program quality control and backstopping regarding the application of GEF tracking tools and other M&E tools, including the UNDP Capacity Development Scorecard.
 


Tag: Monitoring and Evaluation Procurement Programme Synergy Project and Programme management Quality Assurance UNDP Management UNDP management

91.

Grant cofinancing from UNDP did not materialized as planned, as allocation of core resources5 across the UNDP have been significantly decreased. The UNDP CO has reported in-kind cofinancing as part of the UNDP-CICETE6-Coca Cola Partnership on Water Governance. The TE team concurs that the scope of this program is consistent with the project and MSL program objectives.
The UNDP regional technical advisor (RTA) was actively involved, providing overall guidance during the project preparation phase, liaising with the Ecosystems and Biodiversity team at UNDP headquarters and with the GEF Secretariat. Project progress reports provided candor accounts of issues, and these were followed up during project steering committee meetings. Internal ratings were reasonable and project risks were monitored. Progress reports also contained constructive recommendations.


Tag: Global Environment Facility fund UNDP Management UNDP management Coordination

92.

Following the midterm review, a Project Assistant and part-time M&E Officer were recruited, further strengthening the quality of project execution. There were concerns raised at the midterm review of the Project Manager being part-time on the project and also sharing his time with management of the Daxing’anling child project (PIMS 4824). Full-sized GEF projects should have full-time project managers, in the opinion of the TE team (Lesson learned).


Tag: Human and Financial resources Monitoring and Evaluation Project and Programme management

93.

The project/program steering committee was effective at providing strategic guidance to both the project and the MSL program. Rotating the steering committee meetings among the provinces where the child projects were implemented, organizing cross visits and regular group teleconferences were good practices in facilitating program management. There were shortcomings with respect to the lack of program level annual reporting and insufficient quality control on the application and consistency of GEF tracking tools and other M&E tools across the child projects (Lesson learned).


Tag: Challenges Monitoring and Evaluation Project and Programme management

Recommendations
1

Prepare a sustainability strategy and action plan. A sustainability strategy and action plan should be developed to guide enabling stakeholders in ensuring project results are sustained after GEF funding ceases. The strategy and action plan should be based on the project theory of change, e.g., focusing on the assumptions and impact drivers for achieving long-term impacts. The plan should outline the actions requiring follow-up after project closure, assigning roles and responsibilities and identifying timeframes.

2

Reassess the GEF-5 BD-1 tracking tools, including the Financial Sustainability Scorecard and summary of METT scores. The inconsistencies in the Financial Sustainability Scorecard should be resolved, and the METT scores for the 42 wetland nature reserves should be quality reviewed and the reporting updated.

3

Prepare and disseminated a knowledge product summarizing the results of overseas learning exchanges. The international best practices and approaches shared during the overseas learning exchanges have not been documented. A knowledge product should be prepared and disseminated among national and provincial PA agencies and shared with project development and implementation teams of other GEF-financed projects and programs in China.

4

Apply the METT (or similar tool) to wetland parks. Wetland parks make up a large proportion of the newly established wetland PA’s; however, METT assessments were not carried out for these types of PA’s under the project.

5

Finalize a standard procedure for assessing wetlands coverage. Building upon the pilot demonstration of dynamic monitoring implemented on the project, it is important to finalize a standard procedure for assessing wetlands coverage in each province.

6

Carry out a national level assessment of the wetland PA sub-system and develop an expansion strategy. Much of the expansion of the wetland PA sub-system has been through establishment of wetland parks, and it is uncertain how these parks are contributing towards objectives associated with biodiversity conservation and protection of ecological functions and services. The national level assessment should be used in the development of a national wetland PA sub-system expansion strategy.

1. Recommendation:

Prepare a sustainability strategy and action plan. A sustainability strategy and action plan should be developed to guide enabling stakeholders in ensuring project results are sustained after GEF funding ceases. The strategy and action plan should be based on the project theory of change, e.g., focusing on the assumptions and impact drivers for achieving long-term impacts. The plan should outline the actions requiring follow-up after project closure, assigning roles and responsibilities and identifying timeframes.

Management Response: [Added: 2019/07/25] [Last Updated: 2020/12/19]

Agreed. A sustainability strategy and action plan will be developed soon together with CTA to ensure the project to achieve not only a wrapping-up of all projected outcomes and outputs of the national project but a thoroughgoing assessment and summarization of the overall CBPF-MSL programmatic approach thus enhancing impacts and the visibility of results of the CBPF-MSL programmatic approach as a whole as outlined in the project document, and guarantee the sustainability from mainstreaming, environmental, social, institutional and financial aspects after closure of GEF CBPF-MSL programme.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
1.1 Discussion with CTA on the sustainability strategy and action plan
[Added: 2019/10/06]
PMO,CTA 2019/08 Completed Through the discussion, the key points need to be included in the strategy and action plan has been clarified History
1.2 Develop a sustainability strategy and action plan wrapping-up of all projected outcomes and outputs of the national project and summarization of the overall CBPF-MSL programmatic approach thus enhancing impacts and the visibility of results
[Added: 2019/10/06] [Last Updated: 2020/06/01]
PMO 2020/03 Completed The strategy and action plan is under developing and this will be a part of the closure report submitted to Ministry of Finance for decision making reference. CO colleagues have reached out to PMO colleagues, with no response yet. This key action is postponed to Mar 2020. Recorded on Dec 23 2019. As confirmed by PMO, this action has been well completed. History
2. Recommendation:

Reassess the GEF-5 BD-1 tracking tools, including the Financial Sustainability Scorecard and summary of METT scores. The inconsistencies in the Financial Sustainability Scorecard should be resolved, and the METT scores for the 42 wetland nature reserves should be quality reviewed and the reporting updated.

Management Response: [Added: 2019/07/25] [Last Updated: 2020/12/19]

Agreed. PMO will work together with the METT consultant and colleagues from provincial projects to quality review the METT including the Financial Sustainability Scorecard and score summary and the METT scores for the involved 38 PAs (excluding 4 PAs in Jiangxi Province, as FAO-GEF Jiangxi Project is still in the implementation phase) will be updated and the inconsistencies in the Financial Sustainability Scorecard also will be solved.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
2.1 ask for the updated data of METT from provincial projects and provided to the METT consultant
[Added: 2019/10/06]
PMO 2019/08 Completed PMO has collected the updated data of METT from provincial projects History
2.2 contact with the METT consultant to review and update the METT report
[Added: 2019/10/06]
PMO 2019/09 Completed The METT data has been quality reviewed and the report has been updated History
2.3 make proposal to the flyway project under PPG phase
[Added: 2019/10/06]
PMO 2019/08 Completed To remind the flyway project under PPG phase to do a better job on METT baseline History
3. Recommendation:

Prepare and disseminated a knowledge product summarizing the results of overseas learning exchanges. The international best practices and approaches shared during the overseas learning exchanges have not been documented. A knowledge product should be prepared and disseminated among national and provincial PA agencies and shared with project development and implementation teams of other GEF-financed projects and programs in China.

Management Response: [Added: 2019/07/25] [Last Updated: 2020/12/19]

Agreed. All the international best practices and approaches shared during the overseas learning exchanges have been documented in one report, but these best practices have not been fully refined and shared with provincial projects. Before our project closure, PMO will work together with CTA and service providers to refine those best practices and approaches to prepare a knowledge product and disseminate among the involved stakeholders of overall CBPF-MSL Programme and other GEF-financed projects and programs in China as well.  

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
3.1 refined the international best practices collected through the overseas learning exchanges
[Added: 2019/10/06]
PMO 2019/08 Completed PMO has worked together with the service providers guided by Prof.Yu Xiubo to refine the best practices History
3.2 shared the best practices with provincial projects and extend to other PAs through trainings
[Added: 2019/10/06] [Last Updated: 2020/06/01]
DWM/NFGA,PMO 2020/03 Completed CO colleagues have reached out to PMO colleagues, with no response yet. This key action is postponed to Mar 2020. Recorded on Dec 23 2019. As confirmed by PMO, this action has been well completed. History
4. Recommendation:

Apply the METT (or similar tool) to wetland parks. Wetland parks make up a large proportion of the newly established wetland PA’s; however, METT assessments were not carried out for these types of PA’s under the project.

Management Response: [Added: 2019/07/25] [Last Updated: 2020/12/19]

Agreed. The TE report have been submitted to Department of Wetland Management(DWM) of NFGA timely after receipt, Mr. Bao Daming, Deputy Director General said DWM will make full use of the valuable experiences and best practices gained from the implementation of the project over five years and combine with the current situation of wetland PAs, Including the nature reserves and wetland parks,  the part of METT adapt to be used for wetland PAs in China will be refined and Integrated into the M&E tool to extend nationwide through the trainings and workshops. Furthermore, the Ramsar-METT which was facilitated by Ramsar Convention Secretariat will be applied to all Ramsar Sites in China.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
4.1 submitted the TE report to DWM/NFGA
[Added: 2019/10/06]
PMO 2019/06 Completed The TE report have been submitted to DWM/NFGA timely after receipt of final draft version History
4.2 the part of METT adapt used for wetland PAs in China will be refined and Integrated into the M&E tool to extend nationwide through the trainings and workshops
[Added: 2019/10/06] [Last Updated: 2021/12/22]
DWM/NFGA, PMO 2021/12 Completed The key action is well completed as confirmed by relevant programme colleagues. History
4.3 the Ramsar-METT which was facilitated by Ramsar Convention Secretariat will be applied to all Ramsar Sites in China
[Added: 2019/10/06] [Last Updated: 2021/12/22]
DWM/NFGA 2021/12 Completed The key action is well completed as confirmed by relevant programme colleagues. History
5. Recommendation:

Finalize a standard procedure for assessing wetlands coverage. Building upon the pilot demonstration of dynamic monitoring implemented on the project, it is important to finalize a standard procedure for assessing wetlands coverage in each province.

Management Response: [Added: 2019/07/25] [Last Updated: 2020/12/19]

Agreed. The successful pilot demonstration of dynamic monitoring implemented on the project have been extended to other provinces by DWM, and also has been used for the third national land survey organized by Ministry of Natural Resources (“wetland” type in updated land use category), this is very important reference for DWM to use to make a standard procedure for assessing wetlands coverage.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
5.1 extend the successful pilot demonstration of dynamic monitoring implemented on the project to other provinces
[Added: 2019/10/06] [Last Updated: 2021/12/22]
DWM/NFGA 2021/12 Completed The key action is well completed as confirmed by relevant programme colleagues. History
5.2 use the successful pilot demonstration of dynamic monitoring implemented on the project for the third national land survey organized by Ministry of Natural Resources (“wetland” type in updated land use category)
[Added: 2019/10/06] [Last Updated: 2021/12/22]
DWM/NFGA 2021/12 Completed The key action is well completed as confirmed by relevant programme colleagues. History
5.3 finalize a standard procedure for assessing wetlands coverage
[Added: 2019/10/06] [Last Updated: 2021/12/22]
DWM/NFGA 2021/12 Completed The key action is well completed as confirmed by relevant programme colleagues. History
6. Recommendation:

Carry out a national level assessment of the wetland PA sub-system and develop an expansion strategy. Much of the expansion of the wetland PA sub-system has been through establishment of wetland parks, and it is uncertain how these parks are contributing towards objectives associated with biodiversity conservation and protection of ecological functions and services. The national level assessment should be used in the development of a national wetland PA sub-system expansion strategy.

Management Response: [Added: 2019/10/06] [Last Updated: 2020/12/19]

Agreed.

The National Forestry and Grassland Administration formally established in 2018 during the national institutional reform and the main responsibility is earnestly intensify the protection of the ecosystem, carry out important ecosystem protection and restoration projects, strengthen the overall coordination of the supervision and management of forest, grassland and wetlands, vigorously promote land greening and safeguard the national ecological security. The establishment of a protected area system with a focus on national parks will be accelerated. All kinds of protected areas will be conscientiously sorted out, standardized and integrated in a united way, and a consistent, standardized and efficient national park system will be set up with Chinese characteristics.

And responsible for the supervision and management of all kinds of protected areas. To draw up plans and related national standards for different protected areas. To be in charge of the establishment, plan and construction and concession of national parks. To be responsible for the asset management of the natural resource of protected areas such as national parks where the central government directly exercises their ownership, and for the national land use. To put forth review and proposal and submit for approval according to stipulated procedure for new establishment or adjustment of national-level protected areas. To organize and appraise the applications for the World Natural Heritage, and appraise, jointly with other organizations concerned, the applications for both the World Natural Heritage and World Cultural Heritage. To be responsible for the related work of biodiversity conservation.

Currently, China has about 11,800 PAs of various types, accounting for 18% of the country's land area. In the coming years, NFGA will focus on analyzing conservation gaps and integrating various protected areas to develop an expansion strategy and the ecological functions and services of different types PAs will be assessed, including wetland PA sub-system. The national level assessment will also contribute to the development of a national wetland PA sub-system expansion strategy.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
6.1 submitted the TE report to DWM/NFGA
[Added: 2019/10/06]
PMO 2019/06 Completed The TE report have been submitted to DWM/NFGA timely after receipt of final draft version History
6.2 Carry out a national level assessment of the wetland PA sub-system and develop an expansion strategy.
[Added: 2019/10/06] [Last Updated: 2021/12/22]
NFGA 2024/12 Completed The key action is well completed as confirmed by relevant programme colleagues. History

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