Joint Evaluation of the Trust Fund for Environmentally and Socially Sustainable Development (TFESSD)

Norway and Finland channel a large portion of its multilateral development aid through trust funds with development banks or UN organisations. For the World Bank, the combined Norwegian contributions through a number of trust funds constitutes about half the amount of the annual negotiated core support of IDA. One such fund is the Trust Fund for Environmentally and Socially Sustainable Development TFESSD, established in 1999. Finland joined in as a donor to the fund in 2002. In total about 78 million USD has been spent from the Norwegian side, and eight and a half million dollar from the Finns since the fund was established. The main purpose of the trust fund has been to influence policies and practices of the World Bank to enhance mainstreaming of environmental and social dimensions into the operations of the Bank. Thematically being in the mainstream of Norwegian and Finnish development policies, and having received considerable funding over time, the TFESSD should be well suited for an investigation as to whether the aims of such arrangements between bilateral donors and a major financial institution are achieved. This has been the justification for evaluating the scheme. The fund has a flexible setup with overall objectives broadly defined, and with thematic foci decided on an annual basis through a process of dialogue between the donors, the bank and a reference group. It has been a challenging task to evaluate such a loosely defined trust fund. This notwithstanding, the evaluation consultants are confident about a number of main conclusions after quite extensive studies, including several case studies in recipient countries. These conclusions are almost entirely on the positive side. In spite of the smallness of the funds in a World Bank context - although substantial amounts for the donors - the Trust Fund for Environmentally and Socially Sustainable Development has managed to influence the mainstreaming of selected development approaches, concepts and methods in World Bank policy and operations. Several of the assessed projects have influenced country policies and projects. Several of the projects have been catalytic in the sense of setting the stage for future operations. One has to look hard to find the caveats. One would be that trust fund monitoring reports tends to highlight successes and rarely mention setbacks. Another would be that the aim of engaging expertise in the two donor countries has not been very successful. No drastic changes are suggested in the recommendations. But the report has a number of ideas about how to improve the management and operation of the fund, and it also provides some ideas for strengthening the relations to research communities in the two donor countries. These recommendations should be useful for the Ministries of Foreign Affairs in their future planning, not only with regard to this particular fund, but in general. Read news article on norad.no (Norw.)







Niels Eilschow Olesen