Country Policy Dialogues for Institutional Strengthening project aims at helping EECCA Ministries of Environment (MoE) to address weaknesses in their "strategic functions". The term "strategic functions" refers to cross-cutting managerial functions that influence traditional environmental management fields (e.g. air pollution, water, waste, coastal and marine resouces, soil and land, biodiversity management). Examples of "strategic functions" are: strategic planning (including priority-setting), human and financial resources management, inter-ministerial policy dialogue, partnership development (including international co-operation), and communications.
The Country Policy Dialogues for Institutional Strengthening project has its origin in the conclusions of the Tbilisi Ministerial Conference. Ministers highlighted the risk of additional financial resources being wasted in the absence of institutional strengthening. Weaknesses in strategic functions act as structural barriers that hinder progress across different objectives of the EECCA Environment Strategy. While EECCA countries are often beneficiaries of international co-operation projects that include capacity building activities, those activities are tied to projects dealing with traditional environmental management fields (for example, a municipal waste management project) and therefore focus on sectoral management weaknesses (such as capacity building in solid waste management). As a result, capacity building to overcome strategic weaknesses/bottlenecks is often neglected.
The objective of the Policy Dialogues for Institutional Strengthening project is to help EECCA Ministries of Environment to launch targeted initiatives to address institutional weaknesses/bottlenecks. The project will not engage directly in institutional strengthening activities. It will, however, help EECCA countries to: (i) identify critical institutional development needs, (ii) learn from the experience in OECD countries and new EU members, and (iii) identify potential initiatives to address institutional weaknesses. In addition, the Policy Dialogues will provide an opportunity for EECCA countries to discuss with partner countries their challenges and progress in achieving the objectives of the EECCA Environment Strategy.
The Country Policy Dialogues for Institutional Strengthening project is a multi-year project. In 2005, the concept was piloted in Georgia and the experience was preliminarily evaluated in the framework of the Joint Annual Meeting of the EAP Task Force and the PPC in November 2005. Since the experience proved positive, two further country policy dialogues will be carried out in 2006/2007. In 2007, the overall experience with the concept would be evaluated.
A number of key partners are involved in this project. EECCA MoEs are expected to lead the process. Ministries of Environment in OECD countries can offer both best practice experience and commit financial support to fund well-targeted initiatives aimed at addressing identified strategic bottlenecks. The new EU members from CEE can offer substantial experience in dealing with similar problems in a transition context – experience that could be fully deployed in the framework of the new EC TACIS twinning programme. UNDP local offices bring a perspective that is both country-grounded and independent. The EAP Task Force Secretariat acts mainly as facilitator of the Country Policy Dialogues, while providing targeted analytical support. Other stakeholders will be consulted in the process, but will not be part of the country policy dialogue team.
Each Country Policy Dialogue requires the assembly of a Policy Dialogue Team composed of selected partners. This would include roughly five to seven members: two-four representatives of partner countries, one representative of UNDP, and two representatives of the EAP Task Force Secretariat. One-two representatives of the MoE from the pilot EECCA country would serve as main counterpart leading the process and coordinating the activity.
For each country policy dialogue, the project will be structured in four steps: (i) identifying the beneficiary country and other partners and agreeing on the dialogue’s objectives and process, (ii) undertaking preparatory work by the different partners, (iii) conducting in-country policy dialogue meetings, and agreeing on actions that the EECCA pilot country and the partner countries agree to undertake and (iv) following up on agreed actions and closing the dialogue.
Outputs and outcomes
The outputs of the project will be two brief notes for each country policy dialogue and a final synthesis report. For each country policy dialogue, a first note will describe the "agreed assessment of needs", the "MoE list of initiatives", and the "actions that partner countries agree to take to support EECCA countries to overcome strategic obstacles". For each country policy dialogue, a second note will document the experience of the country policy dialogue and will offer lessons learnt for EECCA countries, partner countries and international organizations both in reference to the process and substance of conduction this type of policy dialogue. Once the three country policy dialogues are concluded, a final synthesis report will summarize the three country policy dialogues and evaluate the overall experience.
The expected outcomes of the project will be new initiatives for institutional strengthening that will be implemented by EECCA MoE, either by themselves or with the support of partner countries, as a result of each country policy dialogue. At the discretion of each EECCA pilot country, other partners may be invited to support some of the priority initiatives identified in the dialogue.