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Innovative finance and investment planning for natural resources in Bangladesh

FAO works to develop the capacity of the Ministry of Environment and Forests to address environmental, climate change and forestry challenges
26/11/2014

In densely populated Bangladesh, people are highly dependent on natural resources. They are also vulnerable to the effects of climate change due to poverty, low adaptation capacities and high dependence on natural resources.  Each year, natural disasters cause losses estimated at 1.8 percent of GDP (USD 2.3 billion) and negatively affect the livelihoods of 10 million people.

The mobilization and effective use of financial resources for the environment, forestry and climate change sectors in Bangladesh are constrained by organizational challenges. These include weak capacity for cross-sector coordination of national and international investments as well as for monitoring and evaluation of financing flows and impacts.  

An FAO-supported assessment conducted in 2012 with the Government of Bangladesh identified gaps as well as ways to strengthen the capacities of the Ministry of Environment and Forests and its agencies to better respond to environmental, forestry and climate change challenges.  The assessment has contributed to planning interventions that address the gaps identified.

With the technical support of an FAO project financed by the United States Agency for International Development, Bangladesh is pioneering an innovative multi-sectoral country investment plan (CIP) as a tool to better plan, coordinate and monitor financial flows and their impacts in the environmental, forestry and climate change sectors.

Capacity Development highlights
The project has taken an innovative approach to developing capacities mainly at the organizational and individual levels.  In order to strengthen coordination, a ministerial working group was created so that ministries could share information relative to the CIP.  In addition, in order to ensure that new skills in investment planning, monitoring and evaluation were adopted, a combination of learning techniques were put in place, such as on- the-job learning, formal training events and secondment arrangements.  To address the challenge of high staff turnover across ministries, incentive schemes were implemented for those officials who have acquired new skills and were showing excellence; these included formal acknowledgements and career progression paths.

Country ownership
Attention is also being placed on enhancing country ownership, leadership and motivation. A member of the Ministry of Environment and Forests appointed as National Project Director steers the project at country level. He is supported by an international technical advisor, who provides coaching and on-the-job learning support to empower him to excel in his leadership role. In addition, a national Steering Committee guides the project. The Committee is comprised of senior officials from various ministries, representatives of national agencies, gender focal points and international project staff . This inclusive project management helps to ensure relevance and ownership of the project.

High-level champions
At an orientation session held at FAO headquarters in Rome in October 2014, 11 high-level government officials from Bangladesh and from Myanmar, Peru and Tanzania strengthened their understanding about developing a CIP and its links to policy development, monitoring systems to track investments and their impacts, and governance principles of financing instruments for climate change and forests.

At the orientation session, participants engaged in interactive lectures by experts and in facilitated group discussions on the institutional capacities needed for CIP development and implementation.  They also identified agencies that could act as champions in capacity development of CIPs in their countries. The emphasis on analysing the successes and obstacles to institutional change, including coordination and monitoring, has been highly effective in achieving the intended results. As a result of the orientation session, participating officials became champions and resource people at country level, acting as “multipliers” of learning and change.  

All in all, the project is using innovative approaches to develop capacities in Bangladesh for better CIP implementation, including inter-ministerial information sharing, innovative learning approaches, incentive programmes to retain ministry staff, inclusive project management and the development of high-level champions.

"Sharing experiences across countries is an excellent way of learning. Developing country ownership and strengthening organizational learning mechanisms are critical to making progress with the CIP in Bangladesh. This is in line with the three pillars of organizational effectiveness: a focus on results, quality engagement of country actors, and continuous learning," commented Marco Boscolo, Forestry Officer.

"Strengthening the environment, forestry and climate change capacities of the Ministry of Environment and Forests and its agencies"

FAO Forestry Institutions website

Video presentation on Building blocks for organizational effectiveness

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