Assessing the success of UNEP’s strategies for addressing key global environmental challenges and undertaking institutional reform


UNEP New Office FacilityFounded as a result of the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment in 1972, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) is the voice for the environment within the United Nations system. As such, it is the leading global environmental authority, setting the international environmental agenda, promoting the coherent implementation of the environmental dimension of sustainable development within the United Nations framework, and acting as an authoritative advocate for the global environment. UNEP’s work encompasses assessing global, regional and national environmental conditions and trends, developing international and national environmental instruments, and strengthening institutions for the sustainable management of the environment. UNEP is headquartered in Nairobi, Kenya, and also has several regional offices around the world.

In recent years, the world has faced unprecedented environmental change, which presents both challenges and opportunities. At the same time, UNEP faces the internal challenge of becoming a more effective, efficient and results-focused entity, delivering on its programme of work in an increasingly coherent manner. To respond to both sets of challenges, the Medium-term Strategy (MTS) 2010–2013 was developed following the 24th Session of the UNEP Governing Council in February 2007, which identified the need for an MTS with a clearly defined vision, objectives, priorities, impact measures and a robust mechanism for review by Governments. A key aim of the 2010-2013 MTS was to introduce an innovative, results-oriented approach to the design and implementation of the UNEP Programme, based on six new thematic priority areas (Climate Change, Disasters and Conflicts, Ecosystem Management, Environmental Governance, Harmful Substances and Resource Efficiency), each to be delivered by a sub-programme.

Our contribution

UN Environment Assembly

The CDC CEO led a five-person team comprising three external evaluators and two members of the UNEP Evaluation Office to conduct the Mid-Term Evaluation of the UNEP MTS 2010-2013. The purpose of the Evaluation was to assess the extent to which the MTS was successful in reorienting UNEP’s programme to address key global environmental challenges, and in guiding the associated institutional reform process designed to strengthen the effectiveness and efficiency of the organisation in programme delivery. In this respect, the Evaluation was essentially “two in one” - on the one hand looking at the MTS’ impact on the actual programmes that UNEP delivered (the “what”), and on the other at the MTS’ influence on the mechanisms used to deliver the programme (the “how”).

Besides leading the overall evaluation process, CDC’s inputs largely focused on assessing the effectiveness of the business processes, systems and structures put in place by UNEP to support the MTS’ implementation. Specifically, the CDC CEO reviewed aspects such as programme planning, management, monitoring and reporting, as well as accountability arrangements for programme delivery, the role of UNEP’s project portfolio in MTS implementation, and the progress made in developing UNEP’s strategic presence, including the role of UNEP’s regional offices. In this regard, the evaluation identified a number of key successes and challenges, and provided lessons learnt and recommendations aimed at improving future programme implementation, which are set out in detail in the Evaluation Report.


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