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Conservation of globally important biodiversity and associated land and forest resources of Western Tian Shan mountain ecosystems to support sustainable livelihoods
Commissioning Unit: Kyrgyzstan
Evaluation Plan: 2018-2022
Evaluation Type: Project
Completion Date: 12/2019
Unit Responsible for providing Management Response: Kyrgyzstan
Documents Related to overall Management Response:
 
1. Recommendation:

4.2. Recommendations

Based on the findings of this mid-term review, the following recommendations are suggested. 

R1. It is recommended to conduct a capacity assessment and allocate project resources to consolidate capacities during the remaining implementation period of the project.

Issue to Address The scope of the project is broad. It includes the introduction of several new management concepts to conserve biodiversity such as METT, HCVF, SFM, PES, etc. Introducing these concepts require a lot of capacity development activities to mainstream them in key organizations responsible for managing and conserving biodiversity. Activities implemented during the lifetime of the project may not be enough to ensure the sustainability of project achievements. Despite the good progress made by the project so far, two critical questions are raised: how sustainable capacities developed with the support of the project are? Is the project spreading its resources too thin due to too many intervention areas and too many activities to be implemented? In order to maximize the sustainability of project achievements, it is recommended to focus on developing capacities of individuals (skills and knowledge) and on strengthening organizational processes and systems for the remaining implementation period of the project.

Management Response: [Added: 2020/01/02] [Last Updated: 2021/02/21]

The recommendation is well noted, and UNDP will discuss it at the upcoming project board meeting to consider putting a greater emphasis on implementation of the Capacity building plan of the State Agency on Environment Protection and Forestry. And as recommended by the Evaluator the Project will revise the project budget.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
Study tours are planned on HVCF, PA and scientific activities.
[Added: 2020/01/02] [Last Updated: 2020/12/13]
CO, Project personnel 2021/12 Initiated This work will be continued in 2021. History
The new Electronic-PA management system will include a feature on capacity building and modules for PA specialists
[Added: 2020/01/02] [Last Updated: 2020/12/13]
CO, Project personnel 2021/12 Initiated This work will be continued in 2021. History
Convene the project board meeting and discuss the proposed recommendations.
[Added: 2020/01/02]
CO, Project personnel 2019/12 Completed State Agency on Environment Protection and Forestry (SAEPF) proposed to support capacity building plan for PAs and action was included into AWP 2020.
Jointly with other partners World Bank, GIZ, FAO project developed Capacity building plan for SAEPF. The project will support with implementation of the Capacity Building plan for PAs and in 2020 series of trainings are planned. All training modules /materials to be developed under this activity will also contribute to enhancing the capacity of the mobile training centre of the Frunze Forestry.
[Added: 2020/01/02] [Last Updated: 2020/12/13]
CO, Project personnel 2020/12 Completed Jointly with other partners World Bank, GIZ, FAO, the project developed Capacity building plan for SAEPF, the implementation of which was supported in 2020. History
2. Recommendation:

R2. It is recommended to conduct feasibility studies in the two SNPs to identify the potential for diversifying sources of income, including development of ecotourism and potential impact on local livelihoods.

Issue to Address The project has been supporting the establishment of the two new SNPs: Alatai and Kan-Achuu. They still not get the same level of funding from the government as other PAs in the country. In the meantime, there are expectations that these 2 new SNPs will be able to diversify their sources of revenue and that these protected areas will also provide additional sources of income to local communities and increase their livelihoods. It is recommended to conduct feasibility studies in these 2 parks to identify potential sources of income, their feasibility and the possible economic impacts to increase livelihoods of local communities. 

Management Response: [Added: 2020/01/02] [Last Updated: 2021/02/21]

The recommendation is well noted, and UNDP will continue discussions with the partners to ensure the development of sustainable finance mechanisms for SNPs so that they sustain after the project is over. Jointly with the other UNDP projects as Biodiversity Finance Initiative (BIOFIN) and Aid for Trade the Project has been exploring opportunities for best sustainable finance solutions for the State National Parks. As we share the same pilot territory with the Aid for Trade project we are planning to collaborate on beekeeping and tourism development.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
Potential and immediate solutions are birdwatching and ecotourism and scientific tourism
[Added: 2020/01/02]
CO, Project personnel 2021/12 Initiated
Jointly with the Aid for Trade project the mechanisms of effective cooperation with Tour operators based on appropriate agreements and services in the PAs will be developed and tested
[Added: 2020/01/02] [Last Updated: 2020/12/13]
CO, Project personnel 2021/12 Initiated This work will be continued in 2021. History
Explore and facilitate philanthropic donations to support the State Nature Parks “Kan-Achuu” and “Alatay”
[Added: 2020/01/02]
CO, Project personnel 2021/12 Initiated
Increase entrance fees and develop plans to improve the touristic infrastructure in the State Nature Parks “Kan-Achuu” and “Alatay”
[Added: 2020/01/02] [Last Updated: 2020/12/13]
CO, Project personnel 2021/12 Initiated This work will be continued in 2021. History
Project will also contribute to the work of BIOFIN project on establishment of Biodiversity Conservation Trust Fund to mobilize additional financial resources for biodiversity conservation
[Added: 2020/01/02] [Last Updated: 2020/12/13]
CO, Project personnel 2020/12 Completed Indeed, the Project worked closely with the BIOFIN project on establishment of Biodiversity Conservation Trust Fund to mobilize additional financial resources for biodiversity conservation. The results of this work will be communicated in 2021. History
3. Recommendation:

R3. The recommendation is well noted and will follow up under the AWP 2020.

Management Response: [Added: 2020/01/02] [Last Updated: 2021/02/21]

The recommendation is well noted and will follow up under the AWP 2020.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
Develop new management plans for Alatai and Kan-Achuu SNPs taking into account METT and other tools
[Added: 2020/01/02] [Last Updated: 2020/12/13]
CO, Project personnel 2021/12 Initiated This work will be continued in 2021. History
Development of the E-PA system will also contribute to this recommendation
[Added: 2020/01/02] [Last Updated: 2020/12/13]
CO, Project personnel 2021/12 Initiated This work will be continued in 2021. History
The Capacity building plan developed for SAEPF also includes some training activities to increase understanding of PA management on relevant areas
[Added: 2020/01/02] [Last Updated: 2020/12/13]
CO, Project personnel 2021/12 Initiated This work will be continued in 2021. History
4. Recommendation:

R4. It is recommended to conduct a strategic review of the overall PA network in Kyrgyzstan; including its legislation, management arrangements and roles and responsibilities.

Issue to Address 

Kyrgyzstan is on its way to increase its area of protected areas to 10% of the total territory by 2020. There is a policy and legislative framework in place. However, the network of PAs still suffers from underfunding and suboptimal management, including the fact that most PAs have no legally backed bufferzones and no corridors for the protection of some species such as the Snow Leopard and high conservation value forests are not protected. According to the “6th National Biodiversity Report for the CBC”, the network of PA in Kyrgyzstan needs to improve its management system; its legislation to eliminate shortcomings; its management arrangements including a clearer delineation of responsibilities between state bodies, local state administrations and local self-government authorities; and its monitoring. Within the framework of the current NBSAP covering the period till 2030, it is recommended to conduct a strategic review of the PA network in Kyrgyzstan in order to identify key issues preventing the development of a more effective network and explore the solutions to address these shortcomings. 

Management Response: [Added: 2020/01/02] [Last Updated: 2021/02/21]

The recommendation is noted. The newly established Department of the Biodiversity and PAs under the SAEPF needs capacity building support. In line with the new changes to the Public Budgeting joint activities will be implemented with the BIOFIN Project.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
Support SAEPF’s staff with implementation of the National priorities on Biodiversity Conservation Action Plan, National Strategy of Snow Leopard Conservation, including the topics of conflict management and community engagement
[Added: 2020/01/02] [Last Updated: 2020/12/13]
CO, Project personnel 2021/12 Initiated This work to be continued in 2021. History
Support SAEPF with development of a Concept of PAs development in Kyrgyzstan for 2020-2040
[Added: 2020/01/02]
CO, Project personnel 2021/12 Initiated
Improving the procedures of budgeting and execution by protected areas and forestry enterprises
[Added: 2020/01/02] [Last Updated: 2020/12/13]
CO, Project personnel 2021/12 Initiated This work to be continued in 2021. History
Scaling up the performance based budgeting for PAs
[Added: 2020/01/02] [Last Updated: 2020/12/13]
CO, Project personnel 2021/12 Initiated This work is to be continued in 2021. History
Convene the project board meeting and discuss the proposed recommendations.
[Added: 2020/01/02]
CO, Project personnel 2019/12 Completed
5. Recommendation:

R5. It is recommended to increase the participation of key stakeholders in the procurement of project goods and services.

Issue to Address

The implementation of project activities has a lot of “moving parts”, rendering the management and administration a complex affair. The project implementation team has been using a variety of management tools to get the job done efficiently: adaptive management, flexibility, consensus building, innovation, transparency, partnerships, collaborative management, etc. It has been using all available “channels” to deliver activities and reach expected results as planned. However, within this context and considering that the project implementation modality is DIM – i.e. UNDP assumes the overall management responsibility and accountability for the implementation of the project – the procurement process is still viewed as slow by stakeholders and they would like to see a more transparent/participative process in procuring project goods and services. It is recommended to increase the participation of key stakeholders in the project procurement processes.

Management Response: [Added: 2020/01/02] [Last Updated: 2021/02/21]

Recommendation is well noted, and project will consider this in line with the UNDP rules and procedures. Project has been discussing ToRs and plans with relevant departments of SAEPF to secure coordination, their participation and ownership. Thus all ToRs and specifications have been cleared by the National partners.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
Involve Finance unit of SAEPF and one representative from respective Departments depending on the nature of procurement
[Added: 2020/01/02]
CO, Project personnel 2021/12 Initiated
Convene the project board meeting and discuss the proposed recommendations.
[Added: 2020/01/02] [Last Updated: 2020/12/13]
CO, Project personnel 2020/12 Completed The recommendation is discussed on the project board. History
6. Recommendation:

R6. It is recommended to monitor the financial status of the project and request a no-cost time extension of the project if the GEF grant will not be expended by December 2021.

Issue to Address 

As of end of June 2019, total expenditures amount to about USD 1.322M representing about 33% of the GEF grant versus an elapsed time of 50% (30 months out of 60). When considering the timeline left for implementing the project (30 months), it is doubtful that the entire budget will be expended by December 2021. From an average monthly disbursement of USD 44,059 so far, the project would need to double its average monthly disbursement to USD 88,893 for the remaining implementation period. It would require a drastic change in managing the project with a significant increase of project activities and disbursements to reach this average. It is recommended to monitor the disbursements in the coming year and if needed recommend a no-cost time extension of the project to consolidate its achievements. 

Management Response: [Added: 2020/01/02] [Last Updated: 2021/02/21]

This potential risk of not being able to spend GEF grants was caused by the belated project launch and some repeated procurement activities. Despite the volatility of the situation the Project team has been doing its best to put the project implementation back on track and will continue these efforts to ensure budget utilization by the project closure date. But it should be noted there are still activities falling beyond project’s full control like ranger houses’ construction works and implementation of alternative livelihoods program.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
Draft request for no-cost time extension of the project to IRH with valid and strong justifications
[Added: 2020/01/02] [Last Updated: 2020/12/13]
CO, Project personnel 2021/12 Initiated The project is implemented based on the AWPs, the project risk log updated in 2020 based on the current risks. The issue on no-cost extension will be discussed close to the project end in 2021. History
Discuss with the Project Board members proposed recommendations.
[Added: 2020/01/02] [Last Updated: 2020/12/13]
CO, Project perosnnel 2020/12 Completed The project is implemented based on the respective AWPs with no delays. However the project risks are added in the Risk Log and monitored regularly. History
7. Recommendation:

R7. It is recommended to review co-financing commitments and request yearly estimates from Partners of the project.

Issue to Address

Co-financing commitments at the outset of the project totaled USD 24,519,183, which represented about 86% of the total amount of the financial resources committed in the project document (GEF grant + cofinancing). So far, limited reporting has been made available on co-financing contributions. Yet, Partners have certainly contributed critical resources to the implementation of this project. It is recommenced to review theses co-financing commitments and request Partners to provide yearly estimates of their contributions.

Management Response: [Added: 2020/01/02] [Last Updated: 2021/02/21]

Recommendation is accepted and well noted. Will update at all project boards.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
Project will collect information quarterly and monitor all commitments
[Added: 2020/01/02]
CO, Project personnel 2021/12 Initiated
Review the BIOFIN’s report and keep in touch with the Ministry of Finance to double check commitments from the State Budget
[Added: 2020/01/02]
CO, Project personnel 2021/12 Initiated
The issues around co-financing will be discussed during the Project Board
[Added: 2020/01/02]
CO, Project personnel 2019/12 Completed
8. Recommendation:

R8. It is recommended to add and monitor a political risk to the project risk log.

Issue to Address

The current risk log covers most aspects of the project where issues can arise. It includes the risk of insufficient capacity development and practical know-how within state institutions and local authorities by the end of the project to allow sustainability of project achievements; and the risk of implementing legislative changes in a timely manner that are required to develop an adequate enabling environment for the promotion of these new landscape approaches. However, one additional risk that may arise is a change in political support for promoting new landscape approaches to biodiversity conservation and for integrating these new approaches within the environmental sector. It is recommended to add this risk to the risk log of the project and monitor/report on it yearly.

Management Response: [Added: 2020/01/02] [Last Updated: 2021/02/21]

The recommendation is well noted. This would be a very important and critical risk for the project if occurs. As the country is now getting prepared for the parliament elections in  2020 it is obvious that following the elections changes in local authorities are expected. Therefore, the project team will concentrate its capacity building activities onto the SAEPF to live through and avoid potential risks.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
This will be added to the risk log and monitored by the project. And it will also be reported in the next PIR.
[Added: 2020/01/02] [Last Updated: 2020/12/13]
CO, Project personnel 2020/12 Completed The political risk is added to the project risk log. The project risks will be monitored during the project implementation period. History
9. Recommendation:

R9.  It is recommended to develop a vision and objectives for the two new State National Parks: Alatai and Kan-Achuu.

Issue to Address

These two SNPs were created by the government of Kyrgyzstan in early 2016. The project has been supporting the establishment of a management system to manage these two parks. It has procured some critical equipment for Rangers to better monitor and surveil fauna and flora as well as equipment to facilitate their fieldwork, including riding horses and camping equipment. Management teams are in place and management systems for these parks are being developed. In the meantime, there is a limited common vision among stakeholders (SNPs staff, Rangers and local communities) and some risks around these protected areas such as mining. It is recommended to support collaboratively the development of a vision and objectives for each new State National Park. 

Management Response: [Added: 2021/02/15] [Last Updated: 2021/02/21]

Key Actions:

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