Progress varied on REDD strategies, report says

– several areas need attention

Varying levels of progress have been made in the formulation and implementation of Guyana’s REDD strategies and several areas need attention, according to a report on the impact of Norwegian support here.

The first report of an ongoing real-time evaluation of Norway’s International Climate and Forest Initiative (NICFI) acknowledges the progress made by Guyana and made recommendations on several issues which need attention. “Our hope is that the reports from the first phase of the real-time evaluation will not only add to the experience and lessons learnt through this initiative, but as wellcontribute to an informed public debate about an important topic,” said Asbjørn Eidhammer, the Director of Evaluation.

Asbjørn Eidhammer

Norway is using funds from its development aid budget to support Guyana in Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation (REDD) in a partnership worth potentially up to US$250 million by 2015. The Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (NORAD) commissioned the real time evaluation to assess the initiative’s support to the formulation and implementation of national REDD strategies and other REDD readiness efforts.

The report on Guyana is one of five national-level studies; the other evaluations covered efforts by Brazil, the Democratic Republicof Con-go, Indonesia and Tanzania as at 2010. “The primary purpose of this evaluation has been to develop a baseline for subsequent ex-post evaluations and to provide early feedback to the stakeholders and the public about preliminary achievements,” Eidhammer said. “As with any evaluation, the purpose is to provide feedback of lessons learned and to provide basis for accountability, including the provision of information to the public.”

The report on Guyana documented the baseline on REDD in November 2007 and identified changes in Guyana between then and October 2010. Changes found were then analysed to determine the relevance, effectiveness and efficiency of Norway’s support to Guyana so far and draw preliminary lessons learned and recommendations. To date, Guyana has not received any funds from Norway with NICFI support up to October last year limited to discussion, encouragement and commitment to future payments. Since then, however, US$30 million was transferred to the Guyana REDD+ Investment Fund (GRIF) overseen by the World Bank and a further US$40 million disbursed this year. But no payments have yet been released to Guyana for projects here.

With Guyana’s financial support from the NICFI still in its preliminary stages, the report says that against the standard OECD/DAC (Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development/Development Assistance Committee) criteria of relevance, effectiveness and efficiency, NICFI support to Guyana is judged moderately or highly relevant and effective but of rather more limited efficiency. “Never-theless, overall NICFI support to Guyana is highly valued and has huge potential to assist wider development within the bounds of appropriate, mutually agreeable safeguards,” it says.

The evaluators assessed several broad thematic areas on the formulation of national REDD strategies including national ownership, donor support and coordination, the consultation process, policy content, and the implementation of national REDD strategies.

As regards national ownership, the report says that progress from 2007 to 2010 with respect to the position of REDD on the national agenda was high with the LCDS of which the REDD strategy is a component, very frequently debated in the national media and stakeholders engaged. It noted that REDD is primarily on the agenda as a means of funding the LCDS rather than in its own right. According to the report, the Norway agreement, as a source of imminent funding for LCDS has raised the position of REDD in the national agenda.

With regard to transparency and stakeholder inclusion of REDD coordination, the report says progress was medium. It pointed to the establishment of the National REDD Secretariat noting too that the Multi-Stakeholder Steering Committee and the Monitoring, Reporting and Verification Steering Group of the LCDS include a range of national stakeholders. However, it said that some dissent remains unresolved. It said that there is hard to see a link but the need for transparency is in part due to NICFI interest. The report also said that civil society participation was medium and the agreement has influence on the composition and Nor-way’s involvement encouraged participation.

In relation to REDD relevant policies, strategies, plans and action, progress was low as regards policy to address key issues. It was noted that the most notable changes that can be linked to NICFI support relate to much tighter control at field level of both forestry and mining, the two major drivers of forest loss and degradation. Progress has been made on enhancing monitoring, reporting and verification capacity through the engagement of international consultants and with support from other donors (notably USAID). This process has been largely driven from the Guyanese side, it says.

There should be at least two further evaluation visits to Guyana over the next three years. “NICFI will be managing a significant part of Norwegian development cooperation funds for several years; it is in the interest of policy-makers and the wider public to have access to impartial information about its progress and performance,” the report notes.

The evaluation was conducted by a team of independent evaluators from the British company LTS Inter-national in collaboration with Indufor Oy, Ecometrica and Christian Michelsen Institute. “The evaluation was initiated in accordance with the Evaluation Department’s mandated responsibility to evaluate Norwegian development cooperation and motivated by the strong interest from NICFI to draw early lessons and allow corrections to be made in ‘real time’,” Eidhammer said.

The official said that while they believe that the complexity of the evaluation subject has been well captured by the evaluators, “it should be recognized that not all aspects of NICFI have been evaluated at this stage and that the evaluation is not intended to give the answer about NICFI.” It should also be kept in mind that REDD is a complex and moving target, Eidhammer added.

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