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LESSONS:

Environment Capacity Development Projects in Indonesia and the Philippines

sector: Agriculture, Natural Resources, and Rural Development | country: Indonesia Philippines

1. Capacity development for environmental management introduced alongside broader administrative reform program (such as decentralization) could promote environmental protection efforts had there been clear transfer of functions to and assignment of roles at the local level as well as prior capacity development. Capacity development for environmental management is inherently difficult due to its cross-sectoral nature. Success depends greatly on the buy-in from the sector it aims to influence. When capacity development is introduced alongside a broader administrative reform program, such as political decentralization, environmental technical assistance (TA) is likely to be closely tied to progress in the wider effort. Environmental reform, in effect, becomes vulnerable to broader administrative reform. Indonesia?s environmental impact assessment capacity-building TA, in particular, suffered because the functions of local government remained unclear during reforms and bureaucratic capacity and efficiency, local technical capacity and transparency, and accountability were insufficient, as was support for learning and innovation. The TA tried to make up for these deficiencies but could not bridge the capacity gap. [Main text, paras. 31,46,60,90]

2. Continued funding and policy support are needed to sustain outcomes of environmental capacity development efforts. Environment management initiatives are typically underfunded due to their externality nature, often considered an unintended consequence of a development activity; making sustainability a crucial factor. For instance, the SME cleaner production TA in Indonesia lacked suitable government policies and institutional mechanisms to ensure continued financial and technical support which hampered mainstreaming of cleaner production in the sector. When formulated, the TA did not fully address the question of how to sustain the activities that the project championed. Environmental capacity development generally attracts less sustained funding than capacity development in sectors such as transport and energy, with their potential to generate revenue. Particular attention in environmental capacity development must, therefore, be given to the sustainability of financial support. Successful examples of securing resources for environmental purposes must be drawn upon including the use of market-based instruments, environment user fees as pollution charges, and payments for ecosystem services. [paras. 54,72,78,91]

3. ADB’s technical assistance (TA) sequencing is critical for introducing new environmental and technological concepts especially in many developing member countries (DMCs) where environmental capacity has yet to be established. The example provided by the small and medium enterprise (SME) cleaner production TA is typical. It was approved only 2 months after the approval of another TA on strengthening business development services (BDS) for SMEs. The BDS TA was to support implementation of key recommendations of a medium-term action plan including promoting SME BDS, simplifying regulations, and ease SME access to credit?an ambitious scope of work in itself. These TA projects implemented in parallel by two executing agencies lacked justification and did not ensure synergy. This evaluation supports the findings of the 2006 special evaluation study on TA performance that recommended that CPS ?should include a clear strategy and program for TA with a long-term framework and measurable indicators of expected outcomes.? Evaluation also acknowledges that ADB has made progress in this regard by using sector assessment strategies and road maps alongside CPS formulation so that TA projects can be more firmly anchored in a DMC?s national development planning agenda and long-term sustainability can be made more likely. [Main text, para. 92, Appendix 4, paras. 15-16,35]

4. Strong provincial capacity is required in the establishment of an efficient country safeguard system. The impact of efforts to strengthen institutional and technical capacity through the technical assistance projects remained weak. Hence, the need to continue developing the capacity of environmental offices in Indonesia and the Philippines for more efficiency in administering the environmental impact assessment process, environmental mitigation planning, and implementation. Possible areas of intervention in Indonesia should include (i) streamlining functioning and institutional mandate of provincial and regional environmental agencies, (ii) improving inter-government and inter-ministerial coordination in resolving regulatory and institutional gaps, (iii) greater political and institutional support for Industrial Performance Rating Program, and (iv) developing a master plan for national capacity building for environment management with donor coordination. In the Philippines, improvement can be made in simplifying the EIA process, more efficient project categorization, alternative analysis, and public disclosure. Both countries can benefit from further strengthening of the technical skills of implementing institutions, improving their use of strategic environment assessment as a tool in regional development planning and strict enforcement of post construction environmental monitoring. [Main text, paras. 60-63,93]

5. Anticipating institutional and other changes during a technical assistance (TA) project?s lifetime should be an inherent goal of TA formulation. Waning interest in TA objectives by an executing or partner agency is not uncommon, as the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority demonstrated to some extent in the Pasig environmental management project. Continuous support of individuals and institutions cannot be taken for granted. Building solid relationships with the executing or implementing agency to shield the TA from the effects of personnel changes should be considered as important as the delivery of the project?s technical content. TA team leaders must be more than technicians. They must be able to engage the entire hosting organization. A TA with resiliency built-in will ultimately benefit the client organization itself by also making it less dependent on individuals. Adequate consideration of the dynamics of underlying conditions must remain an essential part of TA design. [Main text, paras. 79,94]

6. A more focused technical assustance design can achieve better results in capacity development. Too many activities tend to weaken TA focus. TA projects usually have shorter implementation duration than loan projects and need to avoid too wide a scope. Both the environmental impact assessment (EIA) capacity-building TA in Indonesia and the Pasig environmental management TA in the Philippines produced more outputs than the target audiences were able to fully use. These TAs also involved more than one executing agency. Reducing the number of participating organizations can often improve focus and lead to better targeting of TA capacity-building resources. [Main text, para. 95, Appendix 3 para 4]

7. Project duration needs to suit the current country context especially when it comes to introducing new technologies and addressing capacity issues in a dynamic institutional landscape. The TA projects in Indonesia were both implemented at a time when institutions were assuming new mandates and struggling to address new roles. Decentralization was moving rapidly and taking little account of weak implementation capacity in district and municipal environmental offices. The 1997 Asian financial crisis, moreover, had depleted the financial capacity and workforce of the SME sector, which made its ability to ramp up and engage with the SME cleaner production TA questionable. In both cases, designers could have considered longer project duration that would more likely ensure improved TA impact and sustainability of the outcomes. [Main text, paras. 81,96; Appendix 4, paras. 3,35]

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