Independent Evaluation of Environmental and Social Safeguards 2023

Community-based Climate Change Vulnerability and Capacity Assessment of the Protected Areas of Bhutan 2022

The purpose of the independent evaluation is to provide the Board, BFL Fund Secretariat Project Coordination Unit and GCF Accredited Entity with insights regarding the extent to which the PAs, BCs, and other Implementing Agencies have integrated the existing safeguards and sustainability policies into their project activities to address and control Environment and Social risks. It also assesses the effectiveness of the policies and procedures in practice and presents the outcomes achieved. The following are the summaries of key findings:


Key Findings

  • During the reporting period, the implementation of the Environment and Social Safeguards (ESS) process and procedures has demonstrated efficiency and effectiveness. A total of 58 activities, covering 10 PAs, 8 BCs, and an OGOP project, have prepared ESS mitigation plans. Only 3 activities were deffered, and 1 activity got dropped.


  • Over the years, there has been a noticeable improvement in the capacity of forest officials, enabling them to effectively identify ESS mitigation requirements, prepare plans, and implement ESS mitigation activities. However, the frequent transfer of staff poses a challenge to sustaining this capacity enhancement. Therefore, it is crucial to continuously invest in capacity building efforts to ensure ongoing skill development among forest officials.


  • Significant efforts have been undertaken to enhance and improve the implementation, compliance, and reporting of ESS measures. Nevertheless, there remain certain issues, challenges, and gaps pertaining to the ESS process, procedures, and the implementation of safeguards.


  • Certain activities that underwent ESS screening and mitigation measures were observed to be relatively small in scale and budget. Furthermore, the on-site assessment validates that these activities pose low risks to the environment and the local population in their vicinity.


  • There were no grievances reported in 2022. Based on the survey conducted among PAs and BCs, it was found that only 1 out of 13 respondents conducted GRM sensitization, while the remaining respondents have plans to conduct it in 2023. However, GRM brochures in English were distributed to local government offices. The lack of community awareness and the laid-back nature of the Bhutanese could potentially attribute the absence of grievance reports in 2022 and previous years.


  • All ESS mitigation measures adhered to the national laws and regulations concerning environmental and social safeguards.