Centre for Environmental Law and Community Rights final evaluation report
Background: The Centre for Environmental Law and Community Rights (CELCOR) was established at the initiative of the current Executive Director (ED) in February 2000. Following many years involvement with local NGO Partners with Melanesia (PwM), the ED, acted on a perceived need for accessible and affordable legal assistance and advocacy for Papua New Guinean customary land owners. This is the third evaluation commissioned by CELCOR and its main donors since the organisation was established. Throughout those 12 years, the vision, mission and main objectives of the organisation have remained relatively consistentPurpose/objective:• To provide an overview of strenghts and weaknesses in internal management, and recommendations for how challenges can be addressed and the organisation can improve.• To provide an overview of the strenghts, weaknesses, challenges and gaps in project implementation, and recommendations for how weaknesses can be addressed.Methodology:In the course of the evaluation field work, all but one of CELCOR’s staff were interviewed at least once, and many on multiple occasions. The evaluation team also visited Oro and New Ireland provinces for meetings with local CELCOR partner organisations and CBOs and with members of communities who have experienced some of CELCOR’s program. In Madang, one evaluation team member met with staff of NGOs with whom CELCOR has worked and with one of the two CELCOR staff members from its Madang office. In Port Moresby discussions were held with senior staff of the NGOs who have been most closely associated with CELCOR’s work.Key findings:•There is an increasing need for the campaigning, advocacy, community education and litigation skills and capacity that CELCOR seeks to provide in the face of increasing pressure from private companies and government on customary land owners for access to their forests and land resources.• CELCOR is able to demonstrate some success in each of these areas in its 11 years of operations, including a number of significant campaign and legal victories. Its staff are skilled and knowledgeable about their work and committed to CELCOR’s vision and mission.• CELCOR’s “productivity” throughout this time however, has been stifled by inadequate attention to fundamental features of successful organisations – particularly effective management, planning and internal communication. These problems are long-standing and have been high-lighted in previous evaluations in 2005 and 2008 but attempts to address them have been relatively unsuccessful.• If they are not properly addressed following this evaluation there is a serious risk that the organisation’s capacity and performance will continue to decline due to: the loss of competent, experienced staff; decreasing support from donors; and reduced confidence of partner organisations.• CELCOR is an important component of the environment movement in PNG and has the potential to become a powerful local agent of change. However, the solid base required for this role to be realised can only be built if decisive action is taken by CELCOR, well-supported by its main donors, to address the organisational and program weaknesses identified in this report.Recommendations:The evaluation includes many recommendations. They are not, of course, independent of each other and successful implementation of the major recommendations will, likely as not, see many of the others flow on readily and quickly as direct consequences of improved functioning of the organisation. The greatest need is to create the conditions for an “enabling” organisational environment, providing the best possible circumstances within which staff and programs can flourish. Essential changes that will underpin this are:Leadership and management: To survive and prosper CELCOR must have high-quality modern management and leadership at all levels that is committed to the organisation’s objectives; works constructively with staff; delegates authority appropriately; and is collectively strong in upholding the agreed principles, decisions and practices of the organisation.Planning, implementation and decision-making: Planning needs to form logical and realistic links between CELCOR’s vision and mission; the capacity of its staff; the resources available to the organisation; the environmental and legal tasks it chooses to take on; and the activities it designs to do this. Plans should be regularly revised as implementation unfolds (the outcomes of which are almost always unpredictable) and circumstances and context change. Decision-making processes need to be appropriately broadened so that staff experience greater “ownership” of the organisation and the work (which, in turn, strengthens commitment).Internal communication: Procedures are needed to ensure that every staff member has an understanding of CELCOR’s program and the reasons for its particular “content” at any time (why is this campaign important; why is that litigation being pursued; why are we conducting community education in these communities, etc). Staff also need to be kept informed of emerging issues or circumstances that are likely to affect their work or their personal circumstances.