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Landscape approach to management of peatlands aiming at multiple ecological benefits
Commissioning Unit: Belarus
Evaluation Plan: 2016-2020
Evaluation Type: Project
Completion Date: 06/2017
Unit Responsible for providing Management Response: Belarus
Documents Related to overall Management Response:
 
1. Recommendation:

As highlighted in both the MTE and this report, the project indicators were not in all cases “fit for purposes” and were either somewhat meaningless or failed to capture progress towards impact (rather than just progress with process). Greater attention in future project documents on the inclusion of indicators that can best measure in a meaningful way both process and impact is essential.

Management Response: [Added: 2018/01/28] [Last Updated: 2018/01/28]

The MTE recommendation regarding the indicators was discussed with all the key stakeholders, including the Ministry of Environment and the National Academy of Science, and it was recommended that this would not be for the best of the project to change the set of project’s indicators. Nevertheless, some of the indicators, indeed, failed to capture progress towards impact. For the future projects, the proposed set indicators should be better thought of so that they can capture projects’ progress at the outcome and impact levels.

Key Actions:

2. Recommendation:

TE TEAM suggest that any project with substantive pilot or demonstration components needs specific dedicated activities / outputs that address the 2nd phase aspects (dissemination, support to upscaling).

Management Response: [Added: 2018/01/28] [Last Updated: 2018/01/28]

Fully agree. Currently, all UNDP projects in the E&E area document properly the results of their pilots and facilitate, to the extent possible, replication and scaling-up projects’ successful experience. When practical, actions on pilots’ results documentation and replication should be included into a project document at the project designing stage (e.g. preparation of technical manuals, study-tours to and trainings at the pilot territories, training workshops and seminars).

Key Actions:

3. Recommendation:

The need to try and better measure and identify key factors that bring changes in awareness, understanding and changing mindsets.

Management Response: [Added: 2018/01/28]

Changes in population awareness, understanding and mindsets do not usually happen over short period of time and require constant intervention over several years. In some cases, information/data on the changes in public awareness and mindsets is not readily available and gathering the relevant information is time and resources consuming. However, the TE TEAM suggestion to try to identify the key factors that changed the public and decision-makers perception of the peatland ecosystems value appears reasonable. Such an assessment can be planned for one of the future projects dealing with peatlands ecosystems (e.g. the Wetlands project).    

Key Actions:

4. Recommendation:

Project should focus in its terminal months on PR and communications in order to ensure the key messages of its achievements and their implications are effectively disseminated.

Management Response: [Added: 2018/01/28]

Fully agree.

Key Actions:

5. Recommendation:

Support to implementation of the National Peatlands Strategy and Outline for Directions of Use 2030: The obvious area of opportunity to follow up on this project is moving from policy development to policy implementation. Be critical of the results of the economic valuation of the peatlands (that is being carried out by the Institute of Natural Resource Management) and devise a strategy to ensure it influences policy effectively; this is linked with the fact that low awareness of the ecological and economic importance of intact peatlands has been identified as a root cause of threats to peatlands in Belarus.

Management Response: [Added: 2018/01/28]

Future projects in the area of peatlands management should focus on implementation of the national policy with respect to conservation and sustainable use of peatlands ecosystems. It appears reasonable to conduct a review of the National Peatlands Strategy and Outline for Directions of Use 2030 in 5 years identifying any issues with the Strategy implementation and suggesting correction measures. Less ‘receptive” sectors, such as agriculture and peat mining industry should also be targeted and invited/involved in future peatlands conservation/sustainable use activities, including awareness raising and promotional activities.

Key Actions:

6. Recommendation:

The project had a very high level of ownership and a very impressive level of involvement and commitment of almost all stakeholders. Thus, in this context the TE Team has little to add. The only major exception would have to be identified as the Ministry of Agriculture.

Management Response: [Added: 2018/01/28]

The Belarusian Agricultural authorities, particularly, the Ministry of Agriculture, have always been “difficult” among partners focusing mainly on obtaining as much agricultural production from land as possible and paying, in practice, little attention to the associated environmental issues.  Nevertheless, UNDP Belarus has been and will be trying to involve them in our environment related activities.

Key Actions:

7. Recommendation:

The one rather unexpected management challenge that emerged during the project was the decision by UNDP to implement its centralization of the PR/communications specialists under a CO based unit. It is without question that the full impacts and ramifications of the approach used to do this were probably not thought through sufficiently. This is an experience the UNDP CO can perhaps learn from and avoid in the future.

Management Response: [Added: 2018/01/28]

The costs and benefits of the centralization of the project PR/communications specialists under a CO based unit have been discussed intensively with the UNDP Belarus CO, Ministry of Environment, project teams and communication specialists.  It was agreed that the project PR/communications specialists should be deeper involved in the project’s activities. A new modality of PR/communications specialists functioning to provide better services to the development projects should be proposed and implemented. All the parties concerned should be involved in this process.

Key Actions:

8. Recommendation:

The caretakers (warden) system approach to public / Protected area cooperation and collaboration: Based on the evidence gleaned from the TE mission the PA caretaker/warden concept piloted by Birdlife Belarus and further supported by the project is effective and has a reasonable chance of being sustainable. This is therefore a good example of such public / state cooperation and has the potential for both replication to other PAs but also application to other aspects of environmental management and monitoring.

Management Response: [Added: 2018/01/28]

More time is required to evaluate the effectiveness of the public caretakers system proposed and created by the BirdLife Belarus and supported by the project. Evaluation of the caretakers system should be conducted within one of the projects aiming at biodiversity conservation, e.g the recently started Wetlands project.

Key Actions:

9. Recommendation:

Transparency and complete clarity on issues related to GEF fee’s received by UNDP and support service charges, etc: Based on the feedback received during the TE mission there exists some concern within the MNREP over lack of clarity on the issue of the GEF fee received by UNDP, the support service charges made to projects, use of project funds for UNDP CO based staff, etc. It is suggested that in the future more efforts to explained these issues fully is made at the outset of every GEF funded project and the opportunity to periodically review any concerns is ensured in PEB meetings.

Management Response: [Added: 2018/01/28]

The UNDP CO intensively work with national counterparts, particularly, Ministry of Economy, Ministry of Environment etc. to explain the issues of CO support to projects implementation, including the direct project cost (DPC) principles and rules. There is some progress with the national counterparts understanding the DPC issues and the necessity for UNDP to fully recover the costs associated with the UNDP support to the development projects implementation. The UNDP CO will continue this discussion with the national counterparts and donors responding to all the questions from the partners.  

Key Actions:

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