Strengthening Institutional Capacities for Coordinating Multi-sectoral Environmental Policies & Programmes in Belize
The proposed Multi-Sectoral Programme in Belize will strengthen the government’s institutional capacities to coordinate the multitude of environmental policies to reduce the overlap of efforts and maximize efficiencies of existing governmental units. In particular, the proposed MSP would develop an improved environmental policy coordination structure/mechanism that institutionalizes a cross-cutting review of environmental policy in such a way that synergies and efficiencies are maximized to conserve biodiversity, adapt to and mitigate impacts of climate change, and reduce land degradation.
The NCSA Initiative undertook an assessment of the existing policy and institutional framework that guides the work of the various organizations involved in environmental protection broadly. The results of the NCSA thematic assessments determined that there is a concentration of expertise and experience within very few organizations and individuals, with significant lack of expertise and experience in other important bodies. Furthermore, coordination of the existing limited capacities stymies Belize’s ability to effectively implement international convention obligations.
A number of national pieces of legislation addresses the management of land, such as the Land Utilization Act, Environmental Protection Act, and Coastal Zone Management Authority Act, however there is overlap in the implementation of these acts, contributing to the ambiguity is roles and responsibilities, and ultimately in poor monitoring and enforcement. In the absence of an overarching land utilization policy act, each ministry and their departments interpret the PUP manifesto and formulate their own policies and plans. The only overarching GoB policy at present is the National Poverty Elimination Strategy and Action Plan (1998-2003), which is presently being revised, and is considered a leading framework for government action. However, this Strategy and Action Plan does not make any reference to any of the three conventions.
The proposed MSP will strengthen the government’s institutional capacities to coordinate the multitude of environmental policies to reduce the overlap of efforts and maximize efficiencies of existing governmental units. In particular, the proposed MSP would develop an improved environmental policy coordination structure/mechanism that institutionalizes a cross- cutting review of environmental policy in such a way that synergies and efficiencies are maximized to conserve biodiversity, adapt to and mitigate impacts of climate change, and reduce land degradation.
Although many formal and informal mechanisms exist for inter-ministerial and departmental coordination, in practice they take place in a disaggregated manner, and serve mainly to exchange information on the activities of the respective agencies’ activities. The numerous different committees, targeting specific environmental concerns, are considered ineffective since they do not result in significant incremental benefits in terms of effective policy and/or programme implementation.
For example, policy for biodiversity conservation in protected areas is coordinated separately through three different agencies: archeology, environment, and forestry. This does not include policy coordination on marine biodiversity. By institutionalizing a mechanism that ensures an integrative and strategic review of environmental policy, this MSP aims to improve the development and implementation of cross-cutting programmes and projects that better model complex human-ecologic interactions.
Policy coordination is also constrained due to the insufficiency of institutional capacities. For example, the Policy Unit in the MNRLG&E, while charged with coordinating environmental policy among the various departments at the head of department level, is only staffed with one individual. Furthermore, government departmental action plans are not adequately integrated within national budgeting exercises and into medium- and long-term development planning.
A wide range of non-governmental organizations, notably conservation organizations, carries much of the work done towards meeting the obligations of the conventions out. However, their contribution towards the implementation of the three conventions is either not known or hampered by the ineffective communication and consultation among the NGO community and private sector. This results in overlapping projects that are sometimes duplicative and/or conflictual when resource use is mutually exclusive.
GEF Alternative: The proposed MSP will direct a series of capacity building activities to: a) institutionalize the strategic review of environmental policy across governmental agencies and departments with a view to meeting global environmental objectives; and b) strengthen an enabling environment for agencies to strategically coordinate the implementation of their environmental programmes and projects in keeping with the cross-cutting review. Improved policy coordination will facilitate and catalyze opportunities for enhanced cooperation among various governmental units to develop and implement programmes that reduce the overlapping relationships among biodiversity, climate change, and land degradation. Enhanced cooperation will also facilitate the GOB’s work to communicate steps taken to implement the three conventions.
Building on the existing Policy Unit of the MNRLGE, the MSP will develop an institutional structure (an organizational unit) and mechanism (representational committee) to manage a process to coordinate all governmental policy decisions and implementation pertaining to CBD, CCD and FCCC. This structure will draw on the expertise and capacities from outside the government, notably the various non-governmental organizations, private sector and academic institutions. For example, NGOs, the private sector and research institutions could make an important contribution in assisting the government develop and implement national policies and programmes that effectively integrate the global concerns for the environment (as represented by the three conventions).
The MSP will also seek to formalize, as appropriate, relationships with these organizations in order to catalyze the development and implementation of integrated environmental programmes that not merely strengthen Belize’s ability to meet the obligations of the CBD, CCD and FCCC, but maximize synergies and efficiencies in so doing. That is, improved policy coordination will allow for agencies to reduce overlap in the management of data and information, as well as to create innovation and synergies that arises from the sharing of expertise and experience across agencies. In particular, the success of improved policy coordination is expected to result in greater effectiveness and efficiency of the Government of Belize to meets its obligations under the three Rio Conventions.
Key Results and Outputs
Key Outcomes: The implementation of the proposed MSP is expected to result in:
- the minimization of overlap, ambiguity, and competing policy development among the various governmental agencies that have a stake in the implementation of the CBD, CCD and FCCC
- improved coordination among the various governmental agencies to develop integrated management plans for their respective programmes, e.g., coastal zone management, water resource management, and agriculture, as well as options for mitigating and adapting to climate change.
Key Outputs: The above-mentioned outcomes will be produced by a set of specific outputs, to be developed further through consultation during the preparation of the MSP, namely:
a) Stakeholder analysis and stocktaking exercise: Building on the NCSA process, the PDF A will undertake a detailed analysis of the SWOT analysis and recommendation made in the Stocktaking, Thematic Assessments and Cross-cutting Assessment reports. In particular, the PDF A will take stock of the existing institutional structures and mechanisms, and assess stakeholders concerns about their respective effectiveness and efficienc
b) Feasibility study and cost estimations: The PDF A will analyze the feasibility of achieving the objectives stated above, and determine the extent to which the anticipated outcomes can be realistically achieved in a cost-effective manner. Output indicators will be developed to demonstrate global environmental benefits. The cost of the planned outputs will be determined, and the sources of funding identified.
c) Consultations and public awareness: Building on the momentum and achievements of the NCSA process, the PDF A will undertake consultations with key stakeholders early on. These consultations will take the form of focal group discussions and individual interviews, serving to inform and engage stakeholders in the design and eventual participation in the implementation of the MSP.
d) Preparation of the MSP document: The PDF A will cover the costs associated with the development of a MSP proposal that fulfils Belize’s identified needs and meets UNDP/GEF requirements. The MSP will include output indicators to demonstrate the global environmental benefits expected to accrue as a result of the project.
e) Stakeholder consultation workshop: The organization of the workshop will ensure the full representation of key stakeholders, and be facilitated to receive feedback on the design of the proposed MSP, as well as secure validation of the project. In particular, the workshop will seek to validate the legitimacy and accountability of the proposed new policy coordination structure/mechanism and strategy designed to improve cross-cutting policy coordination for global environmental benefits, taking into account national priorities.
f) Project Implementation Unit (PIU): The PDF A will finance a small PIU for 3 months to support implementation of the above-mentioned activities.
Reports and Publications
Project Brief / Fact Sheet
Monitoring and Evaluation
Project monitoring and evaluation will be conducted in accordance with established UNDP and GEF procedures and will be provided by the project team and the UNDP Country Office (UNDP-CO) with support from UNDP/GEF.
The PIU will provide regular updates on the progress on PDF A execution to the Steering Committee (via the CEO of the MNRLGE) at least once a month, and more regularly to the CEO MNRLGE and UNDP. PDF A execution will be evaluated on a timely basis by the MNRLGE and UNDP with a view to modifying PDF A activities accordingly.
Monitoring of the PDF A execution will be done by UNDP in Belmopan, with support from the UNDP/GEF Regional Office in Panama. Audit of project expenditure will be done in accordance with agreed UNDP and GEF requirements.