|Project Rationale and Linkage to Country/Regional Strategy
The Ministry of Environmental Protection (MEP) is actively exploring innovative approaches that would transform its institutional arrangements and administrative system to be cost-effective and supportive of PRC's emission reduction targets during the 12th Five-Year period. The government envisages that the institutional reform of MEP would ultimately contribute to the development goal of livelihood improvement. In March 2008, the National People's Congress of the PRC passed the super ministry reform (SMR) motion and elevated the former State Environment Protection Department (SEPA) to MEP. The main objective of the SMR was to reduce the problem of overlapping governmental responsibilities by combining departments with similar authority level and closely related functions. By enlarging the SMR's responsibilities and authority, the reform was intended to convert the previously inter-departmental to intra-departmental tasks, allowing a single department to deal with comprehensive problems from multiple perspectives. The reform further strengthens the environmental protection sector's administrative stability, political will, decision making power, and access to resources. However, the MEP continues to confront specific administration and institutional challenges as part of this reform process both horizontally (overlap of jurisdiction and responsibility between the MEP and other sectoral agencies); and vertically (where responsibility for environmental protection falls under double leadership i.e., the MEP and the local governments). Weak human resource capacity to support the implementation of the administration and management system reform process also serves as a major obstacle.
The government requested ADB to provide a TA to help MEP (i) prepare a detailed roadmap for an enhanced administration system, and institutional framework for environmental protection in the PRC; and (ii) prepare recommendations for strengthening policy framework required to enhance environmental protection skills, and human resources development within the relevant government departments responsible for environmental protection.
ADB provided to the government in 2005 a TA to help develop MEP's (then the State Environmental Protection Agency's) regional supervision centers (RSCs); and in 2009 another TA on Strengthening Enforcement of Environmental Laws and Regulations to improve the enforcement capacity of national, regional, and local environmental agencies. The main lesson learnt from the previous TAs (as highlighted in the draft TCR) was that timely assistance to the PRC was a critical factor, which contributed to the success as the TA progressed hand-in-hand with the government's institutional development and therefore mutually benefited each other. TA workshops and seminars were well utilized to discuss the mandates, functionality, and staffing of the RSCs while these RSCs were being established through parallel government efforts.
ADB supported the first and second international conferences on PES in the PRC in November 2009 and October 2010. The TA will build on past and ongoing ADB interventions and focus specifically on introducing global best practice approaches in the development of national eco-compensation legislation in the PRC. The lessons and issues identified at these conferences have provided the basis for the formulation of the TA.