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Mid Term Evaluation PIMS 3069 Strengthening Capacity to Integrate Environmental and Natural Resource Management for Global Environmental Benefits
Commissioning Unit:Romania
Evaluation Plan:2010-2015
Evaluation Type: Project
Completion Date:02/2011
Unit Responsible for providing Management Response: Romania
1. Recommendation: Seek a greater involvement of stakeholders in project activities to increase ownership of project findings and of recommendations to be implemented It is proposed to create three "small" Working Groups (WG) of key stakeholders (3 to 5 members not including project consultants) . These WGs will seek to engage key stakeholders in project activities including the participation to decision making to validate assessments and analyses supported by the project and specially validate solutions to be developed. An early participation of key stakeholders would increase their ownership of project activities. The project team should be mostly facilitators of these processes. This stronger participation would strengthen the validity of the proposed solutions and share the responsibilities (stakeholders / project) to implement these solutions and particularly to seek endorsement/approval by the government of the proposed solutions. Three WGs are proposed and facilitated by the corresponding project consultant(s): ? WG #1: Strengthening the EIA and SEA processes ? WG #2: Strengthening the institutions and legislation involved in addressing Rio Conventions obligations ? WG #3: Developing a model for a Regional Coordination Mechanism (RCM) An example to illustrate the pitfall that the project may encounter is the support of the project to draft NFPs job descriptions. The current job descriptions proposed by the project do not seem to correspond to the current reality of the Ministry whereby budget constraints are a major limiting factor to set up full time NFPs within the Ministry. As a consequence the work done so far may not go anywhere. However, if the process had involved key stakeholders from the ministry when deciding what to do in this area, the project may not have supported the development of job descriptions for full time NFPs but may have rather developed a feasible solution within the context of available resources at the ministry. What is needed urgently to be done through these working groups are: ? Validate the EIA/SEA capacity gaps/weaknesses and priorities to be addressed with the support of the project ? Prioritize and validate solutions to be implemented with the support of the project in the policy, legislation and institutional areas (based on the recommendations identified during the assessment conducted in 2010 and in addition to the ongoing Government Ordinance to merge the 2 inter-ministerial committees) ? Validate the proposal for establishing a RCM in 2 selected regions. There is obviously a strong interest in this areas as seen at the meeting in Brasov (Jan. 13, 2011) and the project team needs to make sure that the project supports the way forward that is a priority for regional stakeholders.
Management Response: [Added: 2011/04/08] [Last Updated: 2011/04/08]

The management acknowledged the need of a greater involvement of the stakeholders in the second part of the project implementation. The three working groups were set up. Internal mechanisms for NFP nomination and coordination has been set up.

Key Actions:

2. Recommendation: Seek the institutionalization of project achievements/results as early as possible A strong participation of stakeholders often leads to good institutionalization of project achievements. Moreover, an early institutionalization leads to better long-term sustainability of project achievements; hence its success. It is recommended that the activities supported by the project be better institutionalized from the outset of each activity. For instance, developing a RCM should be part of national priorities of the government; which should give the green light to the project to support the government in implementing these RCM. Institutionalization often implies for the project to be more responsive to national priorities. Finally, from an effectiveness/impact point of view it is better to share responsibilities to achieve some project expected results with stakeholders. In the case where all these expected achievements are not met by the end of the project, there is a better chance that the process will continue after the project ends. It seems that it is the case for the government ordinance to merge the 2 inter-ministerial committees. It is now pending for the government to approve the ordinance; however, with or without the project, the process is now well institutionalized and should end with the passing of this ordinance within or beyond the timeframe of the project.
Management Response: [Added: 2011/04/08] [Last Updated: 2011/04/08]

The management agrees with the need of institutionalization of project results inasmuch as possible in order to increase sustainability. Steps towards the institutionalization have been made, government ordinance will cover the roles and responsibilities of the members of the inter-ministerial committee responsible with sustainable development and the regional resource management model is being piloted currently and will constitute the basis for a future mechanism for the local use of natural resources.

Key Actions:

3. Recommendation: Engage High-level Officials (Ministers and Secretaries of State) With the support of UNDP, it is recommended to inform/communicate the project purpose, its progress and its remaining work plan directly to ministers and secretaries of state. The objective is to seek a greater engagement and support of high level Officials into the project. The actions to inform and communicate need to be identified but they should be adapted to this type of audience; i.e. not training events but through seminars, conferences where these officials can be keynote speakers, etc...
Management Response: [Added: 2011/04/08] [Last Updated: 2011/04/08]

UNDP representatives have held several meetings with the minister of environment and secretaries of state; the project was also supported by UNDP and the ministry of environment in the organization of workshops with the representatives of all line ministries and main national agencies. Two more workshops are planned for 2011 and more efforts will be done to reach out to higher officials an selected parliamentarians who can advocate the project and the proposed amendments. legislative

Key Actions:

4. Recommendation: Seek greater involvement of the Ministry of Regional Development A RCM implies the development of a mechanism to better coordinate all regional development players; including all these services related to the management of the environment but also other services involved in regional/local development such as departments of the ministry of regional development and municipalities. It is recommended to seek a greater involvement of the ministry of regional development. This ministry should be represented in the project WG (see recommendation #1) and should play a key role in the implementation of this project component.
Management Response: [Added: 2011/04/08] [Last Updated: 2011/04/08]

The management has noted this recommendation. Ministry of Regional Development will be involved on a more frequent basis. The respective ministry?s territorial agencies are however part of the pilot groups. At the ministry?s level, a representative is invited to take part in the steering committee and working groups.

Key Actions:

5. Recommendation: Conduct a transposing exercise of Rio Conventions obligations into regional development processes / Institutions Without knowing if this transposing exercise was done as part of the assessment conducted in 2010, it is recommended to conduct it if it is not done yet; using the same format as the format used to transpose each Rio conventions obligation into the legislative and institutional frameworks in Romania (see Section 3.2). Assuming that the 2010 assessment would have focused on the legislation and policy aspects, this recommended transposing exercise should focus on how these conventions obligations are transposed into regional development institutions mandates and processes. It should answer the question ?who is doing what?? at the regional/local levels related to the implementation of the Rio Conventions obligations and importantly identify any gaps. This is on these gaps that the model should be justified and developed.
Management Response: [Added: 2011/04/08] [Last Updated: 2011/04/08]

Noted. This analyze was conducted and presented in the I Phase Report . However, proper institutional mandates amendment will be recommended after the pilot activities implementation, and based on a process through which such issues will be subject to large consultative debates.

Key Actions:

6. Recommendation: Institutionalize training activities As per the project document, the project is to conduct a training needs analysis (TNA), develop a training programme and deliver this training programme to the staff of MOE and MAFRD. Considering that the project may not have sufficient time and resources to develop and particularly to deliver this training programme, it is recommended to institutionalize the process as soon as possible. This activity needs to find an ?anchor? point in MOE and be part of the strategy of the ministry to develop the capacity (skills and knowledge) of staff. In addition, it is recommended to seek a partnership with a training institution to develop the training programme and if possible to start the delivery of this training before the project end. This training institution could become the custodian of the TNA that is now underway after the project end.
Management Response: [Added: 2011/04/08] [Last Updated: 2011/04/08]

The management has noted this recommendation and the issues at hand were addressed in the AWP 2011.

Key Actions:

7. Recommendation: Develop a policy paper on how the Rio Conventions obligations are integrated into the environmental management framework in Romania It is recommended to write this paper near the completion of the project to document how conventions obligations are addressed in Romania from an institution, legislation and monitoring and reporting point of views; highlighting project achievements. This policy paper could become a reference point for the government related to the implementation of the Rio Conventions in Romania. It could also be the basis for the end of project report that is to be done as per UNDP/GEF project implementation guidelines.
Management Response: [Added: 2011/04/08] [Last Updated: 2011/04/08]

Noted. UNDP suggested this activity and will leverage the necessary resources and leadership.

Key Actions:

8. Recommendation: Propose a time extension to December 2011 The timeframe to implement this project is only three years; which is short considering the nature of the expected results focusing much on policy, legislation and institutional changes. As recommended already by the ITA in April 2010, it is recommended to extend the project end date to December 2011 (6 additional months); including the possibility of a few more months after this date if financial resources permit. The rationale for this time extension is to compensate for the delay that occurred at the start-up of the project, which is translated into a remaining budget but also the need for more time to achieve expected results. This time extension should also be planned carefully; there are activities to be implemented and there is a remaining budget. As the project will wind down, fewer short-term consultants should be needed and a smaller project management unit will be needed until the completion of the project; these facts should be taken into consideration in the AWP for 2011.
Management Response: [Added: 2011/04/08] [Last Updated: 2011/04/08]

The management agrees with this recommendation. The project has faced several operational bottlenecks and at some point a lack of political commitment and leadership but it has been able to compensate for most of the delays. UNDP CO will bring the issue of project no-cost extension to the attention of UNDP BRC and GEF Sec. The 6 months extension will be necessary to implement the pilot activities and sketch the consequent lessons learned.

Key Actions:

9. Recommendation: Strategize the exit of the project and the way forward Related to the recommendation above about time extension, it is recommended to strategize the exit of the project. The project has some critical activities to be implemented this year and it is important that these activities are well institutionalized and that the custodian institutions of project achievements are well identified to sustain and pursue any actions that may be needed after the project end. Moreover, the integration of the Rio Conventions obligations into the Romanian environmental management framework is part of strengthening this environmental management framework. It is recommended that the project team discuss/explore with counterparts the possibility of future projects to consolidate further project achievements.
Management Response: [Added: 2011/04/08] [Last Updated: 2011/04/08]

Noted. Discussions with counterparts on possible initiatives that will ensure sustainability of current project results have started.

Key Actions:

10. Recommendation: Finalize the AWP 2011 and plan a mid-year review to plan the completion of the project As part of developing the AWP 2011, it is critical to focus on project expected results (outputs and outcomes) and on performance indicators and their respective targets as revised during the inception phase (see Section 3.3). This set of expected results/targets will be the basis on which the project will be assessed during the end of project final evaluation. It is what is expected from the project from a UNDP/GEF and government of Romania perspective. Therefore, activities planned in 2011 should be strongly geared toward these expected results and targets. Working with the project management team, the first draft AWP 2011 was produced immediately after the mission of the ITA in Romania (see Annex 3). This draft work planindicates that this year is a busy year to complete the project and reach the expected results/targets; a lot of activities need to take place. Additionally considering the recommendations #8 and #9 above, it is recommended to review the AWP in August/September 2011 to fine-tune the completion of project activities and the exit strategy. At this point in time the project team should be able to assess if the budget will be entirely consumed by December 31, 2011 or if some budget is left for closing the project during the first quarter of 2012. As a consequence, the AWP 2011 may be revised at this point to reflect the final closing date of the project.
Management Response: [Added: 2011/04/08] [Last Updated: 2011/04/08]

Noted. AWP was finalized and the recommendations taken into account. The management acknowledges the urgency and importance of focusing on expected outputs and outcomes as this is the terminal year of the project. The adaptive management approach used so far will allow for AWP review and fine tuning in August 2011.

Key Actions:

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