Asian Development Bank--Global Environment Facility Cofinanced Projects: Performance and Process Evaluations

Date: June 2007
Type: Evaluation Reports
Show 4 tags
Agriculture and natural resources; Evaluation; Environment; Regional cooperation and integration
Series: Special Evaluation Studies


The Global Environment Facility was set up in 1991 to help developing countries protect the global natural environment. ADB's association with the GEF began a dozen years ago in support of environmental conservation beyond borders.

The ADB-GEF portfolio is small, young, but growing. Thus far, GEF has approved 21 proposals from ADB, of which 13 led to projects in 12 countries. This study provides the results of a two-part study. It distills the lessons of experience and proposes ways to improve project processing and performance.

Summary of findings

The performance evaluation part examined the performance of three mature, challenging projects. They were located in Bangladesh (the Sundarbans Biodiversity Conservation Project), Sri Lanka (the Protected Area Management and Wildlife Conservation Project), and the People's Republic of China (the Technical Assistance for Prevention and Control of Dust and Sandstorms in Northeast Asia).

GEF concerns were addressed to varying degrees by the three case studies. The ongoing Sri Lanka project also provided an opportunity to give real-time evaluation feedback to improve project implementation. Success to date of the GEF portfolio in ADB has been mixed. Of the 13 operations approved, all had goals that were consistent with GEF concerns.

Performance Assessment

Sundarbans Biodiversity Conservation

Protected Area Management and Wildlife Conservation 

Prevention and Control of Dust and Sandstorms in Northeast Asia

Relevance Partly relevant  Partly relevant Relevant
Effictiveness Less effective Effective Effective
Efficiency Inefficient Less efficient High efficient
Sustainability Unlikely Less likely Less likely
Overall Rating Unsuccessful Partly successful Successful


The special evaluation study also drew on lessons of experience and a rapid review of implementation progress of the other 10 ADB-GEF projects.

Key lessons identified of particular relevance to GEF-cofinanced projects and other natural resource management projects with a large number of stakeholders involved were:

  • Phased implementation approaches to complex natural resource management projects increase the probability of achieving development results.
  • Incentives to seek GEF financing should be balanced by the need to ensure project quality-at-entry.
  • Time should be spent on developing project ownership at all levels of government and the public.
  • Public awareness campaigns and mass media initiatives should be used to gain support for project activities and minimize conflicts with vested interest groups. Transparency of project objectives and activities is essential.
  • Grant cofinancing arrangements should be selected with care and designed to ensure that associated incremental transaction costs are not excessive.
  • Complex projects involving an ambitious agenda and diverse stakeholders require a strong project management structure and clear project management processes.
  • Delegation of implementation supervision to country resident missions makes a vast difference in terms of timely resolution of implementation issues.
  • Project monitoring mechanisms should be used as a management tool rather than a fulfillment of GEF or ADB design requirements.
  • ADB staff skills in managing complex natural resource management projects should be complemented with the specialized technical skills associated with GEF projects.
  • Sustainability and threats to it should be given serious attention in project formulation, for example regarding budgets for maintenance of project facilities and activities, and delegation of authority to field levels.
  • ADB should take a long-term approach to project development for global environmental protection, and not be overly optimistic.

The process evaluation conducted jointly with the GEF Evaluation Office and the evaluation units in the GEF partner agencies analyzed the GEF activity cycle and provided recommendations to improve its efficiency and effectiveness. The key recommendations were:

  • Consider a radical redrawing of the GEF activity cycle to simplify all aspects, improve transparency and predictability, and reduce transaction costs.
  • Expand GEF initiatives to the next level of results-based management.
  • Confine the identification phase to establishing project eligibility and availability of resources, and concept endorsement by the recipient country.
  • Require that the work program give evidence of strategic orientation.
  • Request the GEF Chief Executive Officer to endorse fully-documented project proposals on a rolling basis, as envisaged in the GEF instrument.

The process evaluation also provided lessons to ADB on conducting joint evaluations:

  • The topic of the joint evaluation was fundamental to its success. Partners found a process evaluation less threatening than a performance evaluation.
  • Buy-in from important stakeholders is essential. Partners must allocate sufficient funds and personnel for joint exercises, and provide for these in their work programs and budgets.
  • The establishment of a small core group for day-to-day decision making facilitates consensus building and validation of results.
  • Synergistic opportunities can be found to reduce financial and transaction costs by combining joint evaluations with other work.
  • Clear terms of reference, especially regarding what information should be provided, are important.
  • The GEF Evaluation Office can provide valuable leadership, especially when the evaluation approach and methodology and personal relationships among team members must be developed.
  • Use of templates, guidelines, protocols, websites, and strategies for dissemination of information allows partners to communicate efficiently and reliably.
  • Although core groups of staff can deliver most joint evaluation work, conveying the objectives of process evaluations to other members in each partner agency is important, especially if they are requested to contribute information in the field.


  • Executive Summary
  • Maps
  • I. Introduction
  • II. Performance Evaluation of Selected Projects
  • III. Lessons in Undertaking Joint Evaluation and the Process Evaluation Results
  • Appendixes