Importance of monitoring and evaluation in accessing climate finance

Climate change is happening right now. The signs of a changing climate have become apparent in many regions of the world, impacting the lives and livelihoods of millions across the globe. According to the Global Climate Risk Index 2020, Bangladesh is ranked seventh among the top 10 countries most affected by climate change. Its geographical location, flat and low-lying topography, high population density, high incidence of poverty and illiteracy, as well as the lack of institutional setup, make the country highly susceptible to climate change impacts. Over the years, a substantial amount of financial resources have been mobilized by the Bangladesh government, as well as various other national and international organizations for managing the effects of climate change in the country through adaptation and mitigation projects. To ensure the sustainability of such interventions, there is a crucial need for comprehensive monitoring and evaluation processes

Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) is a system or tool which helps organizations improve their project performance and allocate resources efficiently. By tracking the progress of an adaptation initiative, M&E promotes learning and evidence-driven decision making in terms of adapting to climate change. M&E processes also help ensure greater commitment towards transparency and accountability when it comes to implementing adaptation actions.

Developing a robust monitoring and evaluation plan is increasingly becoming a key requirement for accessing global climate change funds. Many international and multilateral funding bodies such as the Green Climate Fund (GCF), Climate Investment Funds (CIF), Global Environment Facility (GEF), Asian Development Bank (ADB), World Bank (WB), etc, typically require applicants or beneficiaries to provide an elaborate section in the preparation of all project proposals, explaining how M&E of the project will be undertaken. This includes identifying what sort of data would be needed, what means of data collection will be employed, how data will be analyzed and interpreted, and subsequently reported on a periodic and routine basis. Having an M&E plan in place helps measure the progress of the project, informs better implementation, and ensures accountability to donors. By understanding what works and what does not through M&E processes, the sustainability of project outcomes can also be ensured, which is another requirement that donors often seek. As such, for developing countries to better access and utilize climate finance, it is crucial to have effective plans and strategies for executing M&E of climate change projects. 

In 2010, the Bangladesh Climate Change Trust (BCCT) was established as a national climate change fund under the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEFCC), for supporting climate action in the country. In addition to overall fund management, BCCT is responsible for tracking project progress through maintaining coordination with the project implementing entities i.e. different government ministries and divisions, as well as carrying out the post-implementation evaluation. However, BCCT presently has a very limited capacity to undertake effective monitoring and evaluation of these projects.

A number of public institutions and practices have been established in Bangladesh to govern the monitoring and evaluation of development activities in the country. Implementation, Monitoring and Evaluation Division (IMED) of the Ministry of Planning plays a key role in supporting the attainment of socio-economic development of the country through effective implementation, monitoring as well as a qualitative evaluation of development projects, thereby ensuring robust public procurement. IMED has proper project inspection guidelines in place which indicate how to undertake M&E of development projects. While IMED is also responsible for carrying out the M&E of projects funded by BCCT, they do not yet have comprehensive guidelines set in place to effectively monitor and evaluate climate change projects. As a result, external consultants and organizations are often recruited by BCCT for executing the M&E of their projects.

In order to keep up with other developing countries in accessing global and national funds, Bangladesh needs to pay more focus on developing and implementing effective M&E strategies successfully. Till date, in many developing countries like Bangladesh, the practice of monitoring and evaluation has been largely donor-driven, being mostly used for accountability and reporting purposes. The value of M&E for improving project implementation has largely been ignored. To achieve the long-term sustainability of climate change adaptation programs or projects and ensure better access to climate finance, effective M&E is indispensable. 

It is critical for the country to design and establish robust mechanisms and guidelines undertaking M&E of climate change and set up performance indicators in alignment with the Bangladesh Climate Change Strategy and Action Plan (BCCSAP) and National Adaptation Programme of Action (NAPA). The capacity of government officials and other relevant stakeholders in the context of climate change, project management, and monitoring and evaluation will also need to be enhanced. 

Istiak Ibne Rouf is working at the Centre for Climate Change and Environmental Research (C3ER), BRAC University as a Research Associate. His research interest lies in Environmental Management, Climate Change, Biodiversity, Policy & Governance. Can be reached at [email protected]

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