Environment Capacity Development Projects in Indonesia and the Philippines

Evaluation Document | 30 November 2010
The study evaluates the contribution of environment technical assistance projects to the capability of the Philippines and Indonesia to manage their environment within the context of ADB and national government's policy to support implementation of major environment improvement programs.

Background

This technical assistance performance evaluation report assesses ADB support for environment capacity development in Indonesia and the Philippines, using selected technical assistance (TA) projects as case studies. The evaluation is intended to inform the design of TA projects for environmental management, and preparation of the new country partnership strategies for Indonesia and the Philippines. The study evaluates the contribution of environment TA projects to countries' capability to manage their environment within the context of ADB and national government's policy to support implementation of major environment improvement programs. It also assesses how ADB's assistance has helped Indonesia and the Philippines develop their country safeguards system and what more is required to bring their current approaches in line with international good practice.

Summary of evaluation

Each of the selected TA project was independently rated partly successful. The evaluation found that the collective impact of the TA projects was to maintain the attention of governments and civil society on mainstreaming environmental issues in the renewed development efforts after the 1997 Asian financial crisis. This included streamlining environmental approvals to catalyze environmentally sound economic investments. The impact of efforts to strengthen institutional and technical capacity, the underlying theme of all four TA projects, remains weak, especially at the provincial level. More support from ADB is needed in Indonesia to create a cadre of environmentally skilled professionals at the district and municipal environment offices under the decentralized governance regime, which, like any major administrative reform, needs time to demonstrate the desired results. In the Philippines, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, assisted by ADB, could benefit by greater devolution of environment and natural resource management functions to local government units and its regional offices, fostering a culture of local ownership and response to environmental threats.

Lessons identified

Environment Capacity Development Technical Assistance

The following lessons need to be considered for future environment capacity development projects in Indonesia and Philippines:

  • Environmental reform is vulnerable to broader administrative reform. 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 TA is likely to be closely tied to progress on the wider effort.
  • Sustained funding and policy support is needed for environmental capacity development. 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. Sustainability of TA outcomes that rely on external funding rather than domestically generated resources and policy support will be short-lived.
  • Technical assistance sequencing is critical for new environmental concepts. Environmental capacity is still not established in many developing member countries, so TA sequencing is critical, especially when introducing relatively new environmental and technological concepts.
  • Strong provincial capacity is required for efficient country safeguards system. This evaluation has underscored the need to continue developing the capacity of provincial environmental offices in Indonesia and of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources in the Philippines for more efficiency in administering the environmental impact assessment process, environmental mitigation planning, and implementation.

General Capacity Development Technical Assistance

  • Anticipate change. Anticipating institutional and other changes during a 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 and 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.
  • A narrow focus is often best for projects and clients. Too many activities tend to weaken TA focus. TA projects usually have shorter implementation duration and need to avoid too wide a scope.
  • Duration needs to suit the current context. A TA project's duration can have an impact on its performance, especially when it comes to introducing new technologies and addressing capacity issues in a dynamic institutional landscape.

Recommendations

The following recommendations on TA formulation are provided for consideration during country partnership strategy formulation for Indonesia and the Philippines:

  • Develop a TA strategy for environment capacity development that considers the context, funding needs, focus, timing, and capacity, as environmental management is difficult due to its crosscutting nature and is typically underfunded.
  • Draw on ADB resident missions during design and implementation due to the need for strong provincial capacity development including for country safeguard systems.

Follow up and build on past progress achieved on environmental management, e.g., developing provincial capacity for country safeguard systems and fee-based approaches for adoption of cleaner production technologies.