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Evaluation of UNDP Support to Climate Change Adaptation
Commissioning Unit: Independent Evaluation Office
Evaluation Plan: 2018-2021
Evaluation Type: Thematic
Completion Date: 01/2021
Unit Responsible for providing Management Response: Bureau for Policy and Programme Support
Documents Related to overall Management Response:  
1. Recommendation:

UNDP needs to accelerate its attention to mainstreaming consideration of climate risks across its entire development portfolio.

This will require more rigorous application of the UNDP social and environmental safeguards policy in project formulation and monitoring, and tailored guidance and advice on how to assess and mitigate the risks of climate change and variability in different sectors, with a focus on climate exposed sectors. Periodic spot-checks of the application of climate risk screening policies would then be in order.

This will also require increased clarity in UNDP programmes, based on the scientific evidence, about the magnitude of the medium and long-term risks presented by climate change and actions required to address them. While outcomes of climate change mitigation efforts will determine the profile of these risks and their consequences, scaled up adaption efforts are required now, even under the most optimistic mitigation scenarios.

Management Response: [Added: 2020/12/21] [Last Updated: 2021/03/15]

UNDP accepts the recommendation acknowledging that it is important to apply climate risk-screening to assess climate exposure and design strategies to mitigate risks. UNDP is already undertaking significant efforts to screen such risks. In particular, within the adaptation offer, rigorous analysis of climate risks and interventions has been applied, informed by scientific data, analysis, and detailed climate risk and vulnerability assessments. UNDP notes that availability of climate data and modelling is still nascent in many countries and UNDP strives to support countries with at least ‘no-regret’ options and at best ‘risk-informed’ designs, along with capacity for adaptive management as climate risks evolve.  

 

Climate assessment and climate-risk screening are essential parts of the updated social and environmental standards (SES) and screening procedures (SESP), effective 1 January 2021. Both aim at early detection of climate-related risks and impacts and finding appropriate mitigation measures if avoidance is not possible. The scope of standard 3 (climate change and disaster risk) has been broadened to allow for better integration of disaster risks and to encompass provisions to respond to climate-induced impacts. UNDP is building a cadre of experts in the regional hubs to advise on SES standard 3 and on providing training and capacity building on climate-related topics to UNDP staff and implementing partners.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
1.2 Build a cadre of experts on standard 3 (climate change and disaster risk) in the regional hubs to advise country offices during project preparation and implementation.
[Added: 2021/03/15] [Last Updated: 2021/06/04]
BPPS 2021/12 Initiated The revision of the safeguards guidance related to climate risk screening is underway with the guidance expected to be finalized by July 2021. Subsequent training is planned for climate risk screening through the support of the BPPS Nature, Climate, Energy Team. Concurrently, the Effectiveness Team has since Q1 2021, been implementing the SES Training-of-Trainers, specifically for a group of GPN colleagues to be trainers on standard 2: Climate Change and Disaster Risk. The entire program is a significant undertaking with a total of 40-50 individual sessions. While a good number of sessions have already been delivered, remaining sessions will be rolled-out over the remainder of the year. The Effectiveness Team is also reviewing the Guidance Note on Climate Change and Disaster Risk, taking into account comments received from the GCF reaccreditation process, with the aim to circulate a version for public comment in early July and develop a finalized version shortly thereafter. Taken together, these concurrent and reinforcing efforts will require through the end of December 2021 to be completed. History
1.1 Include additional guidance on climate assessment and climate-risk screening in the updated SES toolkit.
[Added: 2021/03/15]
BPPS 2020/12 Completed Climate assessment and climate-risk screening are essential parts of the updated social and environmental standards (SES) and screening procedures (SESP), effective 1 January 2021. History
2. Recommendation:

UNDP should establish a system for tracking all investments that have significant climate change objectives, ensuring these are provided with appropriate technical support, oversight and visibility as part of the UNDP adaptation portfolio and as a basis for strengthening internal collaboration.

The objective should be to ensure all projects that have significant adaptation objectives are supported to integrate the best available methods for incorporating climate science into project design and implementation and are recognized as part of a portfolio that cut across a significant proportion of UNDP business. This would also support better coordination between vertical fund programming and other funding streams, as well as continuing efforts to improve coordination among climate and disaster risk reduction personnel across the UNDP policy and crisis bureaux.

Management Response: [Added: 2020/12/21] [Last Updated: 2021/03/15]

UNDP accepts the recommendation, noting that it has invested in strengthening capacity to analyse its investments to achieve the objectives of the Strategic Plan, 2018-2021, through its results-linking platform and introduction of a range of project markers. UNDP has completed a mapping of ongoing projects in the adaptation portfolio, which was incorporated in the portfolio analysis dashboard, an internal monitoring tool for organizational lessons learning and knowledge management. UNDP will utilize its project marker or other robust tracking systems to capture projects with significant climate change objectives. This will ensure that project design and implementation can be effectively supported and monitored in a coordinated manner across the organization. It will also enable UNDP to analyse the degree to which climate change objectives cut across UNDP programmes and projects. 

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
2.1 Introduce a mechanism to track ongoing and pipeline projects with significant climate change objectives to enable the provision of coordinated technical support and oversight across the organization
[Added: 2021/03/15]
BPPS, BMS 2022/06 Not Initiated History
3. Recommendation:

UNDP should take steps to reduce fragmentation across its climate change adaptation programming, to more effectively achieve intended benefits at scale.

To address fragmentation and more effectively promote realization of intended benefits at scale, UNDP should look for opportunities to establish larger programmes that blend development and adaptation finance, working in concert with multiple partners. Regardless of the scale of the finance it brings to bear, UNDP should increase attention to scalability in project selection and design and be more explicit in articulating how benefits will be realized beyond pilot project boundaries. UNDP should also seek to build on the success of its GEF international waters model, establishing more multi-phase projects working on the same geographic areas and sites, especially in cases where benefits can only be expected to become evident over longer time frames.

Management Response: [Added: 2020/12/21] [Last Updated: 2021/03/15]

UNDP accepts the recommendation, noting that this shift is already in progress. The UNDP adaptation portfolio is consolidated under its specific CCA offer.  The offer reflects the globally accepted definition and application of adaptation strategies and solutions across the key domains, including agriculture/food, water resource management, coastal resilience, ecosystem-based adaptation, and climate information/early warning. Emergent domains include urban resilience, resilient infrastructure, health, and climate security. Moreover, UNDP domain expertise across adaptation is strong and has not only a track record of success in programming (combined resources, including co-financing, of about $4 billion mobilized, supporting over 90 countries) but also a reputation as thought leader on the global stage.

 

Adaptation finance, under the UNFCCC mechanism, as well as that channelled through bilateral donors, is primarily project-bound. Over the last few years, with adaptation finance and related mandates maturing towards scale, the UNDP adaptation offer has evolved to support transformative, high-impact, at-scale programming by countries and communities. Since 2015, there has been a deepening of the adaptation portfolio’s scope, scale up/replication, paradigm shift and transformation. UNDP is increasingly building on pilot projects that laid out foundational capacities and generated an evidence base for further replication and upscale (through GCF and leveraged finance).

 

UNDP has partnerships across the United Nations system and with multilateral development banks and is working together with them to advance adaptation action, exemplified by joint programming with ADB, EIB, FAO, UNEP, UNICEF, WFP, and the World Bank, among others. Furthermore, UNDP is exploring regional and programmatic approaches to adaptation, in collaboration with a variety of partners, with strong emphasis on integrated approaches to deliver on the Sustainable Development Goals through adaptation action.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
3.1 Develop regional and programmatic approaches for integated solutions on adaptation
[Added: 2021/03/15]
BPPS 2022/12 Not Initiated
3.2 Consolidate and communicate adaptation offers in key domains (agriculture, food, water, ecosystems)
[Added: 2021/03/15]
BPPS 2021/12 Not Initiated
4. Recommendation:

UNDP should improve the technical underpinnings of its adaptation service offer in each sector, with special attention given to strengthening capacities in disaster risk reduction.

Given the importance of disaster risk reduction for adaptation efforts, steps should be taken to strengthen UNDP capabilities in this area, capitalizing on the growing allocation of ODA for disaster risk reduction associated with the emphasis on climate change adaptation.

With respect to agriculture and food security, a clearly articulated set of UNDP programme objectives and guidelines would help bring greater strategic coherence to the organization and its regional and country offices, given UNDP comparative advantages. Opportunities include increasing coordination with specialized United Nations and non-United Nations agricultural organizations to help governments design adaptation solutions, and facilitating multi-stakeholder collaborations to generate more transformative innovations for adaptation.

UNDP should seek to increase the rigour of its evaluation techniques across its adaptation portfolio, capitalizing on lessons from the application of impact evaluation techniques in its portfolio of recently established UNDP GCF projects.

UNDP should seek to systematize engagements with academic institutions at the global and regional levels in order to strengthen the scientific underpinnings needed to consider climate risk in the design, implementation and evaluation of UNDP projects and provide iterative feedback on how to strengthen them.

Management Response: [Added: 2020/12/21] [Last Updated: 2021/03/15]

UNDP partially accepts the recommendation and recognizes the complementarities and potential for synergies across the CCA and DRR domains. A coherent, joint effort is being advanced to ensure UNDP DRR and CCA work complement each other in support of a shared objective of integrated risk management and vulnerability reduction for greater impact. These efforts will build on existing joint efforts related to the application of risk information across time-scales in risk assessments, loss and damage accounting, early action and early warning, strengthening the coherence of DRR/CCA policy instruments, and fostering institutional coordination arrangements. Emerging work on its risk-informed development offer, which includes the DRR/CCA mainstreaming strategy tool, will facilitate better coordination and cohesiveness in implementing DRR/CCA considerations in development planning, programming and budgeting. UNDP will also develop a resilient recovery offer as part of its DRR portfolio that will integrate considerations around climate mitigation and adaptation within country offices’ support to affected governments’ efforts to build back better, smarter and greener.

 

In relation to the recommendation that UNDP develop clearly articulated programme objectives and guidelines for agriculture and food security, UNDP considers that its climate change adaptation programmes in agriculture and food security follow globally advocated, country-driven approaches focused on adaptive capacities, climate risk management, resilient technologies/practices, access to finance/markets, and planning incorporating climate risks. The UNDP approach to agriculture/food security explicitly targets the most vulnerable smallholder producers, subsistent farmers, herders and fishers. It takes a food system, farm-to-fork approach to help achieve food and nutrition security in the face of climate change and reduce risks of losses across all stages of complex food systems. UNDP supports cross-sectoral work (beyond the ministries of agriculture and sectoral actors) and a whole-of-government approach both horizontally and vertically (linking national actors and national and local actors). UNDP has strong partnerships with FAO, IFAD, UNEP, WFP and others to advance collaborative adaptation action across this domain.

 

UNDP will continue to expand its impact evaluation efforts initiated under the GCF portfolio, including in collaboration with academic institutions, highlighting recent efforts in collaboration with Columbia University, Tufts University, the University of Cantabria and others.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
4.1 Articulate a resilient recovery offer under DRR that integrates green and adaptive considerations, linked to UNDP climate change adaptation offer.
[Added: 2021/03/15] [Last Updated: 2021/06/22]
CB/BPPS 2021/08 Initiated The Resilient Recovery Offer from the DRR aspects has been designed and does reflect all the requisite elements of Resilience which includes, consideration for green and sustainable development solutions. Pending is the completion of the broader GPN internal harmonization process/Policy to ensure that all the teams delivering Recovery solutions are coherent and coordinated. The working group has been constituted and includes representatives of the Climate Team. The next step is to widen the GPN engagement on this in order to ensure a comprehensive UNDP Package. The DRT cover two of three phases and these phases have been completed while phase 3 involves development solutions that cuts across the entire GPN. The working group is pulling all of these component parts together and to ensure there is a means of effectively coordinating them. The Risk Informed Development Offer is in its final stage of completion and should be finalized by the end of August 2021. History
4.2 Design joint programming and normative guidance for DRR/CCA projects
[Added: 2021/03/15]
BPPS/CB 2022/06 Not Initiated
4.3 Design programmatic investments for agriculture/food security in collaboration with other partners, including United Nations system organizations
[Added: 2021/03/15]
BPPS 2022/06 Not Initiated
5. Recommendation:

UNDP should expand its adaptation support in small island developing states.

Recognizing the specific vulnerabilities and high costs of operating in SIDS, UNDP should prioritize its climate change adaptation support to these countries. This should include giving priority to SIDS in the allocation of existing flexible funding mechanisms, amending the resource allocation policy to enable increased core resource allocation for SIDS, and revising the policy governing funding of differentiated physical presence to reduce expectations for SIDS local office contributions. Such measures are important both in recognition of existing vulnerabilities but also in anticipation of growing vulnerabilities, given the risks posed by global warming.

Action taken on these fronts would be consistent with UNDP Executive Board-accepted recommendations of the recent IEO evaluation of UNDP support services to middle-income countries. It would also be in line with the views of the Secretary-General, expressed in his 2020 report on the implementation of General Assembly resolution 71/243 on quadrennial comprehensive policy review of operational activities for development of the United Nations system (A/75/79), that the United Nations development system should explore new multi-dimensional ways of assessing country needs that go beyond country typology and national income and take into account vulnerability aspects.

Management Response: [Added: 2020/12/21] [Last Updated: 2021/03/15]

UNDP accepts the recommendation and recognizes the special challenges of SIDS alongside the real potential to turn the most pressing challenges into opportunities and SIDS’ collective commitment towards transformational change and global action. Through its SIDS offer, UNDP has committed to expand its support to multipliers that accelerate progress and build on its comparative advantage in enhancing support to SIDS through a combination of integrated action over the next 10 years. These include climate action, developing blue economies, and promoting digital transformation. This climate action pillar particularly enhances climate change adaptation and resilience support to SIDS governments by incorporating risk reduction and planning for short, medium and long-term risks in combination with the advancement of a whole-of-island and ridge-to-reef approaches to development planning and policy-making.

 

In relation to the recommendation that UNDP should consider increasing regular resource allocations and revising its policy governing funding of differentiated physical presence (to reduce expectations about SIDS local office contributions), UNDP notes that, in line with the management response to the evaluation of UNDP development cooperation in middle income countries (DP/2020/22), these are decisions for the Executive Board to take; UNDP will factor these elements into its engagement with the Executive Board on the integrated resources plan and integrated budget, 2022-2025, and its mid-term review.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
5.1 Support design and implementation of at least five (5) adaptation projects focusing on SIDS by mobilizing public and private sector finance
[Added: 2021/03/15]
BPPS 2022/12 Not Initiated
6. Recommendation:

UNDP should establish clear priorities for private sector engagement on climate change adaptation.

Private sector engagement and scaling up private finance has a critical role to play in adaptation, and UNDP can benefit from a prioritized strategy for strengthening its engagement in this area. Deepening engagement with the private sector will require significant investment, strong prioritization, careful choices and clear metrics to assess impact. Limitations in the availability of technical and financial resources implies the need to focus on a limited number of priorities, which can be addressed well and provide the basis for progressive expansion.

Management Response: [Added: 2020/12/21] [Last Updated: 2021/03/15]

UNDP accepts the recommendation, noting that it has been steadily increasing private sector engagement in adaptation and framing its adaptation efforts to support a range of private sector actors, including MSMEs, value-chain actors/businesses, and crowding-in financial/capital providers, including around insurance and other areas of risk informed financing. UNDP has also been developing a structured approach for engaging the private sector in climate change adaptation, informed by a new framework focused on de-risking private sector investments in the adaptation space..

 

UNDP has launched a flagship project (jointly with FAO) to develop a climate risk-informed, gender-sensitive value-chain development toolkit to support market and value-chain development in the agriculture and food sector. UNDP has also been advancing support to MSMEs, access to finance, and broader adaptation innovation through its portfolio support on water access and resource management, agriculture and food systems, ecosystem-based adaptation, among others, focusing on livelihoods and enterprise development. UNDP FACS has likewise prioritized greater engagement with the private sector in the agricultural sectors, including on adaptation.

 

UNDP aims to deliver risk finance solutions, including insurance to vulnerable countries and communities, and align and leverage the work of its insurance and risk facility (being set up as part of the UNDP Finance Sector Hub) with its adaptation-related work.

 

UNDP will continue to accelerate private sector engagement in its adaptation work and scale up innovative approaches, including through the deployment and use of recently updated policies such as on-granting, performance-based payment, and guarantee policies.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
6.1 Refine the climate change adaptation strategy for private sector engagement, including deepening engagement in private sector financing for adaptation
[Added: 2021/03/15] [Last Updated: 2021/06/22]
BPPS 2021/07 Initiated The draft strategy has been completed and will be reviewed by the Financing Hub before it is finalized. [Have slightly extended the completion date given the summer holiday season]. History
6.2 Scale up support for MSMEs/community-scale organizations to promote enterprise development
[Added: 2021/03/15]
BPPS 2021/12 Not Initiated
6.3 Develop risk finance and insurance for both standalone and integrated initiatives as part of an expanded adaptation engagement with the private sector
[Added: 2021/03/15]
BPPS 2021/12 Not Initiated
7. Recommendation:

UNDP should strengthen the gender equality dimensions of its policy and capacity-related support in adaptation-related programming.

Attention to strengthening gender mainstreaming should focus on weaknesses in policy and capacityrelated support in the environmental protection portfolio. Practical and well-researched objectives should be established in adaptation programming to improve gender equality results. Adopting context-sensitive gender approaches and strengthening the resilience of women to negative impacts of climate change on ecosystems are crucial to the success of environmental programming.

Management Response: [Added: 2020/12/21] [Last Updated: 2021/03/15]

UNDP accepts the recommendation and notes that it has made strong progress and built solid results in advancing gender equality and women’s empowerment through its adaptation-related programming and will continue to strengthen efforts. The current UNDP portfolio of projects financed by the environmental vertical funds applies gender analysis and action plan requirements across the entire portfolio to ensure that gender considerations are included during project design and development stages. UNDP has developed specific guidance and templates for ensuring a consistent approach to developing project-level gender analysis and action plans and ensures full compliance with these requirements, including use of specialized gender expertise to develop context-specific approaches to deliver gender equality results through its work.

UNDP will continue to enhance gender mainstreaming approaches for the current and emerging pipeline of adaptation projects and ensure that project-level gender analysis and action plans are fully compliant with requirements, including use of specialized gender expertise to develop context-specific approaches to deliver gender equality results through its work. UNDP will continue to: (a) build on the gender and adaptation work it has conducted; (b) increase the use of methodologies and tools developed; (c) increase gender capacities across adaptation interventions; and (d) document and report how adaptation projects promote gender equality and women’s empowerment.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
7.1 Continue to refine gender-responsive approaches to the UNDP adaptation policy and programming in the context of developing its next gender equality strategy.
[Added: 2021/03/15]
BPPS 2022/12 Not Initiated History
7.2 Increase visibility and promote the use of gender, climate change and adaptation methodologies and tools developed
[Added: 2021/03/15]
BPPS 2021/12 Not Initiated
8. Recommendation:

To better coordinate across an increasingly complex portfolio of environment projects, including for climate change, UNDP should take steps to upgrade its information management system and avoid running separate/parallel information systems for specific programme portfolios.

The development of a separate information system for the GEF portfolio highlights deficiencies in the UNDP mainstream project management system and suggests that the solution is not to dissolve personnel information management systems but rather raise the capabilities of the corporate information system.

Having two separate project management systems that serve essentially the same purposes is not an efficient use of UNDP resources. It also reinforces continuation of parallel business models, which potentially undermines the objective of better integrating vertical fund finance within UNDP operations.

Other potential efficiencies could be gained by increasing the efficiency of mechanisms for tracking and aggregating results across the UNDP portfolio. This will contribute to addressing a broader challenge with current UNDP systems, which is to ensure requirements are kept simple, in order to ensure there is space for more adaptive and flexible approaches to managing and accounting for results. Currently, reflecting vertical fund and internal requirements, there are a large number of indicators on which UNDP is obliged to collect data. To the extent there is flexibility, UNDP should focus on prioritizing its core information requirements to minimize the reporting burden for staff on the ground, focused on those indicators that best capture the value of its adaptation work.

Management Response: [Added: 2020/12/21] [Last Updated: 2021/03/15]

UNDP partially accepts the recommendation. While Atlas is an ERP system for project implementation and financial and human resource management, PIMS+ is a project cycle management portal for vertical fund-financed projects, covering the project design phase (outside of Atlas) enabling users to aggregate portfolio data, store donor specific documents and data, and interact with external vertical fund portals responding to specific donor reporting requirements. Each system serves distinct purposes. As UNDP is migrating the existing Atlas platform to a new ERP cloud system, UNDP will take the opportunity to further align data points between the two systems and explore opportunities for further integration.

UNDP is in the process of developing its Strategic Plan, 2022-2025 and, in designing the accompanying integrated results and resources framework (IRRF), with performance indicators at outcome and output levels, UNDP will carefully review existing indicators in the current IRRF, 2018-2021, the CCA portfolio, and those in country programme documents and projects, to identify a small set of indicators that best capture the objectives of the UNDP adaptation portfolio to minimize reporting burden for staff on the ground.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
8.1 Improve integration PIMS+ data with the next generation ERP platform to improve consistency of the corporate data architecture, with dashboards that show key portfolio performance and results along different service lines
[Added: 2021/03/15]
BPPS/BMS 2022/03 Not Initiated
8.2 Introduce a small number of indicators in the IRRF, 2022-2025, that best capture the objectives of UNDP climate change adaptation work.
[Added: 2021/03/15]
BPPS 2021/09 Not Initiated

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