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Mid Term Review for Yellow Sea Large Marine Ecosystem Project Phase II
Commissioning Unit: China
Evaluation Plan: 2016-2020
Evaluation Type: Project
Completion Date: 06/2018
Unit Responsible for providing Management Response: China
Documents Related to overall Management Response:
 
1. Recommendation:

TE Arrangements:

In order to avoid the limitations experienced with the MTR, it is recommended that for the Terminal Evaluation (TE), UNDP and UNOPS should: 

  • Plan well in advance, and commence the contracting process for the TE consultant in ample time to allow award of contract and commencement of work well before (at least 2 months) the relevant ICC meeting and/or other critical TE milestone(s).
  • Organize detailed meeting schedule with stakeholders well in advance, so as to ensure that consultations are representative of the full range of key project stakeholders (as required by the UNDP TE Guidelines).
  • Provide private space for TE consultation meetings (as required by the UNDP TE Guidelines).
  • Provide an ‘independent’ interpreter when needed (as required by the UNDP TE Guidelines).
  • Desist from recording consultation meetings (as required by the UNDP TE Guidelines).
  • Avoid having any PMO (or UNDP) staff present during consultations (as required by the UNDP TE Guidelines).
Management Response: [Added: 2018/10/19] [Last Updated: 2018/10/19]

UNDP/UNOPS: agree. Following actions will be taken to implement the recommendations:

  • A total of $5,000 is budgeted for interpretation for the Terminal Evaluation.
  • An ad-hoc ICC is scheduled in December 2018 at the request of UNDP to include an agenda item on terminal evaluation to allow earlier and better planning and contracting for evaluation by PMO and governments in the second half of 2019.
  • UNDP will send and introduce the TE guidelines to all partners for their knowledge and observance in the course of TE to ensure “independence” of the evaluation.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
Schedule an ad-hoc ICC to include an agenda item on terminal evaluation to allow earlier and better planning and contracting for evaluation by PMO and governments in the second half of 2019.
[Added: 2019/01/05] [Last Updated: 2019/05/27]
UNDP & UNOPS 2019/02 Completed Completion confirmed by Mr. Guo Yinfeng on May 27. History
2. Recommendation:

Delays to Project start:

It is recommended that in order to avoid project-threatening major delays to the remainder of the Project, the start of any potential future phases of this Project or any new projects (anywhere), the relevant Implementing and Executing Agencies and the participating countries should always ensure that:

  • all staffing and PMO logistical arrangements are fully agreed by all parties before the ProDoc is signed and the time-line clock starts ticking,
  • the Executing Agency consults closely with the participating countries on staff recruitment; and
  • the UNDP standard of a maximum of three months to establish the PMO office, recruit staff etc is complied with by the Executing Agency.
Management Response: [Added: 2018/10/19]

Agree and will consider these recommendations if with a third phase of the project.

Key Actions:

3. Recommendation:

Need for Project extension:

Given the three-year delay to operational start of the Project, if anything is to be salvaged from the Project, it is strongly recommended that the maximum extension available under UNDP-GEF rules should be applied for and approved, ASAP

Management Response: [Added: 2018/10/19]

Agree.

The ICC-2 decided to extend the project for about 18 months, the maximum duration of extension, and UNDP and UNOPS approved the extension of the project until December 31, 2019. However, based on the review by UNOPS, it is physically impossible to complete all the activities in the revised workplan agreed by the ICC members. In the follow-up discussion between UNDP and UNOPS, UNDP agreed to table for discussion a second extension of the project at the ICC-3. 

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
Extend the project for about 18 months, the maximum duration of extension, and have UNDP and UNOPS approve the extension of the project until December 31, 2019.
[Added: 2019/01/05]
PRC to apply 2018/06 Completed
4. Recommendation:

Project Design and need for prioritization:

  • Given the extreme three-year delay to Project commencement, and the limited time remaining to complete full Project implementation, it is recommended that it would be highly disruptive to propose any significant changes to the Project-design at this stage.  It is recommended that despite some issues as identified in section 3.1 of the MTR Report, the Project-design should be generally accepted as it is, and that highest priority should be given to implementing Project activities in order to achieve Project Outcomes and Objectives by the (extended) Project-end. 
  • It is further recommended that for the remaining Project duration, absolute highest priority should be given to focusing on completing all Outcomes and Outputs in Component 1 (the most strategically important Component), followed by those that have the highest likelihood of being achieved by Project-end (Outcomes 2.1, 2.2, 2.3, 3.4, 4.1, 4.2 and 4.3).
  • The other Project Outcomes (3.1, 3.2, 3.3 and 4.4) may well have to be left aside as lower priorities, and picked-up by the YSLME Commission post-Project (refer Tables 8 and 9).
Management Response: [Added: 2018/10/19]

The project ICC-2 meeting agreed to reduce the number of activities while maintaining those that have been covered in the three signed PCAs and those activities with TORs being cleared by the RWGs.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
Reduce the number of activities while maintaining those that have been covered in the three signed PCAs, and those activities with TORs being cleared by the RWGs.
[Added: 2019/01/05]
UNOPS and the 2 countries. 2018/06 Completed
5. Recommendation:

UNOPS Project support:

It is strongly recommended that UNOPS should urgently review and reform its project-support functions to absolutely ensure that no further delays and blockages occur. Urgent reforms that are specific to accelerating the YSLME Phase II Project should be implemented immediately.

Management Response: [Added: 2018/10/19]

Agree. UNOPS has strengthened its project delivering support system with integration of weekly project meeting with PMO, monthly meeting with UNDP. In addition, UNOPS conducted management review of its systems, policies, procedures, resources and best practices, based on which management recommendations are made and response measures are proposed by YSLME.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
Strengthen its project delivering support system with integration of weekly project meeting with PMO, and monthly meeting with UNDP.
[Added: 2019/01/05]
PMO & UNOPS 2018/09 Completed
Conduct management review of UNOPS systems for each project
[Added: 2019/01/05]
UNOPS 2018/10 Completed
6. Recommendation:

PMO staffing:

To address the significant imbalance between PMO workload and staff resourcing, it is strongly recommended that the two countries look at seconding a Government officer each to the PMO, at national Government cost, and at Project Officer level with at last 3 years experience in international projects, to supplement PMO staffing for the remaining duration of the Project.

Management Response: [Added: 2018/10/19]

Disagree. Instead UNDP and UNOPS agreed to hire an environmental specialist to assist the project to oversee the YSGP and implementation of the project at demonstration sites in China in the areas of climate change adaptation. Yet based on the assessment of the UNOPS, there is also a need to strengthen the implementation support to National Coordinator in each country. 

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
Hire an environmental specialist to assist the project to oversee the YSGP and implementation of the project at demonstration sites in China in the areas of climate change adaptation
[Added: 2019/01/05] [Last Updated: 2019/05/27]
PMO, UNOPS and two countries. 2019/06 Completed Completion confirmed by Mr. Guo Yinfeng from UNOPS on May 27. History
7. Recommendation:

Work planning:

It is recommended that:

  • The PMO and UNOPS make greater use of whole-of-project / whole-of-timeline work plans, such as the Gantt charts in Annex 7, to identify and prepare well in advance for all key milestones that require timely action by the PMO / UNOPS, to assist in preventing further Project delays.

 

The PMO should make greater efforts to:

  • take a more strategic approach to work planning and workload management,
  • focus on implementation of high priority activities (e.g. Component 1),
  • stick to and comply with structured workplans; and
  • avoid going off on tangents and pursing low-priority activities that may be driven more by personal interest than vital project needs.
Management Response: [Added: 2018/10/19] [Last Updated: 2018/10/19]

Agree. The CTA/PM and Operations Associate received trainings in Copenhagen on communication, procurement, workplanning and competency-based interview. UNOPS/PMO will introduce the Microsoft in project management to allow more detailed planning of project activities. The project will continue to use the RWG meetings and ICC as the mechanism to review and approve annual work plan to ensure alignment with priorities and strategic approach.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
Give CTA/PM and Operations Associate trainings in Copenhagen on communication, procurement, workplanning and competency-based interview.
[Added: 2019/01/05]
PMO and broader UNOPS. 2018/05 Completed
Introduce the Microsoft in project management to allow more detailed planning of project activities.
[Added: 2019/01/05]
PMO and broader UNOPS 2018/10 Completed
8. Recommendation:

Adaptive management:

It is recommended that given the significant work-tasks required to achieve completion of the Project within the remaining time available, that in order to urgently accelerate technical implementation:

  • Additional opportunities to use accelerated modalities such as PCAs and sub-contracts should be explored urgently (subject to concerns and checks outlined in section 3.2.5).
  • If budget rules allow, and subject to application of stringent accountability procedures, increasing the Yellow Sea Grants Program (for projects by NGOs) from a total of US$200K to US$1M, with individual grants increased from up to $50K to up to $250K.
Management Response: [Added: 2018/10/19]

Agree.

  • The project will expand the PCA with FIO by including more activities and budget, with possible inclusion of satellite tracking of spotted seal for connectivity analysis, climate change adaptation in Dandong, study on Sargassium horineii and wetland restoration for nutrient reduction.
  • A total of at least $300,000 will be allocated to YSGP, and a maximum of $100,000 for each project.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
Allocate at least $300,000 to YSGP, and a maximum of $100,000 for each project.
[Added: 2019/01/05]
PMO and broader UNOPS with approval by UNDP 2018/10 Completed History
Expand the PCA with FIO by including more activities and budget, with possible inclusion of satellite tracking of spotted seal for connectivity analysis, climate change adaptation in Dandong, study on Sargassium horineii and wetland restoration for nutrient reduction.
[Added: 2019/01/05] [Last Updated: 2019/05/27]
PMO, UNDP, UNOPS and ICC members 2019/12 Initiated History
9. Recommendation:

Rationalizing the ICC, MSTP & RWGs:

  • It is recommended that the ICC and MSTP be amalgamated.  In line with this simplification it is also recommended that the ICC should meet twice per year rather than just annually – so that delays are not caused in review and approval of proposals put forward by the RWGs and PMO.
  • It is strongly recommended that the total number of RWGs be reduced to four, by amalgamating RWG-F / RWG-M and RWG-P / RWG-A (as these cover technically related issues).
Management Response: [Added: 2018/10/19]

Both China and RO Korea will be consulted as to the feasibility of amalgamating the ICC and MSTP, and consolidation of 6 RWGs to 4.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
Consult China and RO Korea as to the feasibility of amalgamating the ICC and MSTP, and consolidation of 6 RWGs to 4.
[Added: 2019/01/05] [Last Updated: 2019/05/27]
PMO and two countries. 2019/02 Completed Completion confirmed by Mr. Guo Yinfeng from UNOPS on May 27. History
10. Recommendation:

Budget & financial management:

It is strongly recommended that:

  • a detailed, external, independent audit of overall Project expenditure and financial management, disbursements and flows should be undertaken at an appropriate time,
  • UNOPS should exercise its contractual right to undertake financial audit of funds disbursement and flows under all three PCAs, at an appropriate time,
  • every effort should be made to ensure that the costing basis of each sub-contract is fully justified and transparent, that the selection and contract award process is truly competitive and transparent, in accordance with relevant UNOPS procedures, and that the financial disbursements and flows under each sub-contract are externally audited at an appropriate time; and
  • UNOPS should take urgent action to avoid the non-trivial delays and mistakes in the payment of bills and fees, reimbursement of personal expenditures by PMO staff on Project activities and disbursement of funds as outlined in section 3.2.1.
Management Response: [Added: 2018/10/19]

Agree.

  • Audit will be one agenda item on the workplan of 2019 to be reviewed and discussed at the ICC-3.
  • PMO will consult with UNOPS on the conduct of financial audits of fund disbursement and flows under the three PCAs, which may include the possibility of conducting the audit by PMO.
  • Costing of project activities will be reflected in the process of amending the three PCAs by adding special section on cost breakdown and budget description in the amended PCAs.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
Include audit into the work plan of 2019 and review and discuss at the ICC-3.
[Added: 2019/01/05] [Last Updated: 2019/05/27]
UNOPS and PMO 2019/12 Initiated History
Consult with UNOPS on the conduct of financial audits of fund disbursement and flows under the three PCAs, which may include the possibility of conducting the audit by PMO.
[Added: 2019/01/05] [Last Updated: 2019/05/27]
PMO and PCAs 2019/12 Initiated History
11. Recommendation:

Project level MER:

It is recommended that Project-level MER be improved for the remainder of the Project duration through the following:

  • Requiring the PMO to focus more on clearly reporting “actual” implementation (and expenditure) against “planned” implementation (and expenditure).
  • Revising and clarifying the April 2018 version of the GEF-IW Tracking Tool to address the points made in section 3.2.7.
  • Providing the PMO with formal training in the use of PRFs as a project planning, management and monitoring tool.
  • Requiring the PMO to begin and continue collecting the necessary data to allow the TE to properly assess achievement of Project Objectives, Outcomes and Outputs against the indicators specified in the PRF.
Management Response: [Added: 2018/10/19]

Agree.

Key Actions:

12. Recommendation:

Project communication & visibility: 

It is recommended that the PMO should act to rapidly commence development, followed by implementation, of the Project Communication Plan.  This Plan should:

  • Clearly identify the Project’s strategic communication objectives, target audiences and key messages.
  • Give priority to targeting in-country audiences, with all communication products and mediums, including the permanent Project website, being not only in English but also in Chinese and Korean.
  • Use the full range of social media platforms, including those that are specific to PRC, to target the younger generation.
  • Seek partnerships with national television producers and broadcasters in both PRC and ROK, and invite them to produce and broadcast TV news items and also documentaries both about the Project and the Yellow Sea generally (TV is still considered to be the most effective form of mass-media for reaching large audiences).
  • Seek partnerships with NGOs, including the large international NGOs like WWF, CI and IUCN, who are already very active on communication activities in the Yellow Sea region, to leverage co-financing for communication efforts.

It is also recommended that the PMO, UNOPS Copenhagen Office, UNDP and the two National Coordinators should work towards improved and more regular communication, including a monthly Progress Meeting on Skype.

Management Response: [Added: 2018/10/19]

  • The project communication strategy was prepared with indication of communication products to be prepared. Based on the strategy, a plan is being developed and partially implemented, and further reviewed, revised and approved by the ICC-3.
  • To develop the Chinese and Korean versions of the website and social media, an Intern with Chinese language background is being recruited.
  • Another intern of Korean national will be hired soon to help with Korean contents of website and social media. 
  • Partnership with regional organizations and NGOs will be pursued through support of YS grant program to leverage co-financing. As for communication, PMO and UNOPS will resume weekly review meeting to address problems and solutions, and monthly review meeting between UNDP and UNOPS on project implementation issues. 

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
Prepare a project communication strategy with indication of communication products. Develop and implement the plan based on the strategy.
[Added: 2019/01/05]
PMO 2018/08 Completed
Recruit interns with Chinese and Korean language backgrounds to help develop the Chinese and Korean versions of the website and social media
[Added: 2019/01/05] [Last Updated: 2019/05/27]
PMO 2019/12 Initiated History
13. Recommendation:

Risks to establishment of YS Commission:

It is strongly recommended that:

  • Once the current restructure of the PRC Government is complete, that UNDP, PMO and ROK MOFA & MOF seek a ministerial-level meeting with new PRC Minister for Natural Resources, to brief them on the Project and seek high-level support in PRC for the Project, for SAP implementation and for the establishment of a permanent, sustainably financed Yellow Sea Commission. Without this, this Project Objective may not be achieved by end of Project in December 2019.
  • The MoU on bilateral cooperation on environmental matters signed by the Environment Ministers of both PRC and ROK, be used as a model and template for a similar MoU to be signed between the PRC Minister for Natural Resources and the ROK Minister for Oceans & Fisheries, specifically relating to cooperation in implementing the YSLME-SAP and establishing the Commission.  Such MoU might be structured so as to allow for future signing-in by DPRK as a tri-lateral MoU. 
Management Response: [Added: 2018/10/19]

Agree. PMO will use the ICC-3 as the avenue to mobilize political commitment to the establishment of the commission.

Key Actions:

14. Recommendation:

Involving DPRK:

  • It is recommended that in addition to continuing to work through the Hanns Siedel Foundation to try and involve DPRK in the biodiversity and MPA-network planning activities, the Project should also work towards more complete participation of DPRK, including progressively in the regional governance framework. 
  • In doing so, given recent diplomatic progress, this effort might be led by ROK MOF and Ministry of Reunification through direct bilateral dealings with DPRK, in consultation with PRC and with support from PMO.
  • As a UN program, it is also vital to ensure that relevant UN Resolutions and rules, and GEF rules and procedures, are fully complied with.
Management Response: [Added: 2018/10/19]

Agree.

  • UNESCAP is also mobilized to support YSLME in engaging DPR Korea’s participation in project training and workshops.
  • Meanwhile, frequent communication is made between PMO and UNDP HQ on the engagement of DPR Korea to ensure project activities are implemented in compliance with UN resolutions on DPR Korea.
  • However, it is also clear that engaging DPR Korea is not within the results framework of the current project and prioritization should be given to implementation of project activities. In this regard, political commitments from both countries through the suggested ministerial meeting between China and RO Korea will provide better insights and direction on follow-up actions.  

Key Actions:

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