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External Progress Assessment. UNDP Green Commodities Programme (GCP)
Commissioning Unit: RBLAC
Evaluation Plan: 2018-2021
Evaluation Type: Project
Completion Date: 12/2019
Unit Responsible for providing Management Response: RBLAC
Documents Related to overall Management Response:  
1. Recommendation:

6 Recommendations

In order to take full advantage of the experience and expertise GCP has accumulated over the last 10 years, leverage its comparative advantage and keep its relevance in a changing environment, we recommend the following: 

R1. Focus on GCP’s distinctive approach, now defined as the MSCFSC approach, leverage UNDP’s competitive advantage (engaging governments/convening power), and use clear criteria regarding were the MSCFSC approach can be implemented with the greatest potential impact (need to review Green Light Criteria).

Currently GCP impact is aimed at 8 million farmers and 20 million hectares. Aligned to this ambition the Green Light Criteria prioritizes interventions using the following decision route: tropical forest hectares – commodity strategic importance – Country Office capacity – National Government interest- additional stakeholder interest. Under the MSCFSC approach and leveraging on UNDPs competitive advantage (engaging governments / convening power), the key contribution of GCP is to become a catalyser for systemic change. Under this strategic priority, commodities, forest hectares and farmers are the ecosystem that different actors want to transform, they are an aspirational consequence of GCP action rather than a goal; likewise, the “enabling environment” is what emerges through the interactions (synergies) of different actors within the ecosystem (a means rather than an end). The direct goal of GCP is to incentivize collaboration among diverse/improbable actors and support the institutionalisation of change (formal and informal). Therefore, GCP needs to carefully assess for any given country-level intervention whether there is a genuine commitment in place that allows for a successful initiation of a systemic change process.

Under this framework, the success of GCP is linked to its ability to support networks (i.e. number, participants and dynamics of platforms and other dialogue schemes); learning processes (various types, focus on helping others understand and design collective solutions; participatory root cause analysis); strengthen the development of transformative capacity (influence, self-evolution of pilot schemes, embeddedness, policy) and finally transformative impact (hectares, farmers, etc.). GCP’s value proposition is to build capacities for and accompany this process, measure progress and induce corrective action where necessary (adaptive management).

Management Response: [Added: 2020/03/31] [Last Updated: 2021/01/31]

GCP is constantly positioning itself as representing and promoting the MSCFSC approach. For the development of the new project document the GCP’s value proposition to build capacities for and accompany this process, measure progress, and induce corrective action where necessary, will be made more visible. No need to take any additional actions.

Key Actions:

2. Recommendation:

R2. Secure stable core funding that enables GCP to finance its global core operations independently from country advisory. Core funding should allow the team to have enough resources for networking, conceptual/strategic reflections and to provide ad-hoc advice (for ex. in project design). Implement a multi-lawyered fundraising strategy that includes traditional (bilateral) donors, non-traditional donors (foundations) interested in innovation and longer-term systemic thinking, as well as access to GCF/GEF resources. Develop suitable fundraising products for each donor group.

Bilateral donors are mainly interested in country level/regional interventions because they are under pressure to present measurable results in the short run. At the same time, they are interested to contribute to the upscaling and spreading of specific country-level experiences (including through south-south cooperation), which creates opportunities for a global programme like GCP. GCP should present itself to bilateral donors as a global knowledge platform on MSCFSC that is able to connect local resultsto the global debate, thereby increasing visibility and impact of bilateral donors’ work. Foundations on the other hand are often less constrained to produce short-term results and have more flexibility to fund innovative work that produces medium to long term impact. GCP should identify foundations that have invested into sustainable commodity supply chains (as an example: the David & Lucile Packard Foundation and its new Agriculture, Livelihood and Conservation Program) and seek support for the advancement of the MSCFSC approach. Finally, GCP should concretize and assure continued support through larger GCF/GEF programmes (e.g. FOLUR).

Management Response: [Added: 2020/03/31] [Last Updated: 2021/01/31]

Current the project is developing a fundraising strategy and an action plan that will be implemented in the upcoming years. Currently, a fundraising brochure was developed presenting GCP as a global knowledge platform on MSCFSC that can connect local results to the global debate. Additionally, several fundraising products are being produced which will serve to engage donors into the different topics GCP works. All these efforts will be discussed and analysed under the development of the Project Document. No additional actions will be taken.

Key Actions:

3. Recommendation:

R3. Assess risks and opportunities of evolving from a programme with proper identity and branding into a corporate UNDP unit/knowledge hub for MSCFSC. Such an integration would have to be carefully designed in order to take advantage of improved leverage and access to UNDP resources, without compromising on the flexibility, agility and innovative spirit of the programme.

Keeping a proper identity or seeking to become a corporate UNDP unit needs to be assessed from a financial and impacts perspective and with a pragmatic view. In the evaluator’s view, the growing embracement of UNDP of the typical GCP topics (multi-stakeholder collaboration and private sector engagement) will increase the risk that GCP’s work is perceived by other UNDP programmes/projects/Country Offices as duplication of what they already do (even if they don’t, or do so with a lack of capacities). Against this background, it might be better to actively advocate that UNDP as an institution capitalizes GCP’s 10-year experience by integrating it into UNDP’s corporate offer (knowledge hub for MSCFSC/private sector collaboration). After having completed its strategy review process, it is now a good time for GCP to start this discussion. 

Management Response: [Added: 2020/03/31] [Last Updated: 2021/01/31]

During the strategy meeting that took place in Q4 of 2019, this topic was widely discussed and decisions were taken regarding the role of GCP inside UNDP. A strategy regarding the communications inside and outside UNDP was developed in order for GCP to be included in the corporate offer. This topic will be continuously reviewed in order to adapt the strategy as UNDP embraces the topics GCP works on. All the actions have been taken already.

Key Actions:

4. Recommendation:

R4. Evaluate the role of GCP in aggregating and measuring collective intelligence that could result from the articulation of different commodity platforms in landscapes where different commodities coexist. Further, in the same way that GCP pioneered NCPs when sustainable commodities conversations were focused on VSS, today GCP could play a role in broadening the platform approach at subnational levels by including key actors/themes (not necessarily commodity focused) that have a stake in the sustainability of local environmental services and in realizing human rights and gender inclusiveness.

Successful experiences of landscape/jurisdictional approaches remain scarce. And where they occur, they are normally linked to one single commodity within a jurisdiction/landscape, rather than the sustainability of the jurisdiction/landscape as such. Therefore, it remains challenging to make claims regarding sustainable jurisdictions/landscapes. Collective intelligence is the emergence of solutions that are more than the sum of the parts involved. Through strategic collaboration with country offices and through strengthening data & ethnographical M&E, GCP could pilot widening the commodity perspective to an environmental services perspective linked to landscapes with strong commodity presence. Instead of asking how do we make x commodity more sustainable, the question is how do we ensure that there will be water/soil/etc now and forever? This automatically widens the discussions to all of those with a stake in the environmental service and to cross cutting issues (gender, youth, human rights, etc) that constitute barriers to the conservation of the environmental service. This could lead to more systemic local pacts/strategies/solutions that become part of the GCP learning hub.

Management Response: [Added: 2020/03/31] [Last Updated: 2021/01/31]

Although this recommendation is interesting, it goes beyond the scope of GCP and its role inside UNDP. Several efforts are being taken constantly for GCP to aggregate and collect collective knowledge and intelligence, as well as there is a constant effort to go beyond platforms. However, in the development of the new project document this will not be taken into consideration as it escapes the purpose of the programme itself.

Key Actions:

5. Recommendation:

R5. Embed M&E into the GCP strategy and put into use existing M&E tools in order to gather data and communicate on achieved results. In parallel, continue to develop indicators that measure the systemic change GCP aims to achieve and engage in a dialogue within UNDP, donors, and peers on how to account for systemic change and indicators that go beyond the traditional focus on hectares, liters or number of smallholders.

M&E is vital for the long-term sustainability of GCP and needs to operate at two levels: the capacity of GCP to catalyse systemic change (see recommendation 1 above) and, most importantly for relevance and visibility, the transformations that take place on the ground (emergence of synergies and the results of those synergies). National actors (trade or sector associations, commodity specific initiatives, government, etc.) could be best positioned to track medium term changes in trade dynamics, sustainable offer, etc. GCP could partner with them for those inputs and focus instead on system transformation: how do actors see themselves and others (their roles)? What has changed in terms of perceptions, are actors communicating differently, are actors behaving differently, how have these changes impacted sector governance/landscape governance? what key innovations have emerged, who has benefited from them? Measuring changes in the institutional performance, stability and adaptability in regard to MSC can help capturing progress towards systemic change. 

Management Response: [Added: 2020/03/31] [Last Updated: 2021/01/31]

This recommendation is very important and great amount of work has been put into developing the M&E existing tools. Additionally, gathering data and information to communicate results is a process that started at the end of Q4 in 2019 and is extending into 2020, where different products will be delivered. New tools for measuring the measuring systemic change will be developed in 2020 and by the end of the year the new M&E system that was developed in the previous years will be finalized and implemented in a yearly basis. No additional actions need to be taken.

Key Actions:

6. Recommendation:

R6. Focus on implementation rather than continued revision, once the current strategy review process has concluded. In doing so, make sure to focus on strategic deliverables, and pay attention to the needs of country offices, GCC members, and beneficiary governments. Be mindful in understanding the local context and ensure that global tools and advisory fit in and are tailored to local needs.

The successful uptake of a conceptually sound global approach (MSCFSC) at the national level depends on the ability of the transmitter (GCP global expert) and receptor (Country office/NCP coordinator) to develop a joint understanding and strategy on how to adjust the MSCFSC approach to a given country context. Whereas the transmitter must assure the consistent use of methodologies and tools and draw on best practices and lessons learned, the receptor needs to be able to translate and adapt this global knowledge into local practicalities. For the success of the subsequent systemic change process, it is of utmost importance that the intervention design is done with enough resources, time and capacities. It determines to a notable degree the success of the subsequent process. Cultural sensitivity and work-experience of the transmitter in the country of intervention facilitates the process.

Management Response: [Added: 2020/03/31] [Last Updated: 2021/01/31]

This recommendation will be taken into consideration and the annual workplans developed for 2020 are focusing on implementation of the strategy that was revised at the end of 2019. Each member of the GCP team have their specific deliverables and currently GCP has reached a clearer understanding of their role and support in order to apply the new strategy in a more structured way.

Key Actions:

7. Recommendation:

R 7. Regarding operations, make sure that new members are properly introduced into GCP and that they are aware about the “broader picture” and not just their area of work. As far as possible, assure foreseeability and contractual stability for GCP consultants (speed up contracting). Maintain good practices related to team building. Make an effort to prioritize and simplify materials and tools in order to facilitate their uptake.

Management Response: [Added: 2020/03/31] [Last Updated: 2021/01/31]

new introduction package and plan was developed throughout 2019 for new GCP members to understand our broad work and position inside UNDP. It is planned to be developed in 8 weeks and in 2019 was applied successfully to new team members. No further actions will be taken.

Key Actions:

8. Recommendation:

R8. If a new internal project for “core GCP” was developed (similar to the one being reviewed), make sure that targets and indicators are aligned with broader GCP M&E efforts and establish a reporting format that besides internal UNDP reporting purposes also serves GCP team’s information needs.

Management Response: [Added: 2020/03/31] [Last Updated: 2021/01/31]

In the development of the new Project Document a new results framework will be developed reflecting the evolution GCP has had in the past ten years as well as the new Theory of Change and M&E system that have been developed in the past years. With a more structured and clearer results framework as the programme has already, a simplified one will be developed to facilitate the monitoring of global activities and country support.

Key Actions:

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