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Development of the South China Sea Programme PDF Print E-mail
Written by Chris Paterson   
Wednesday, 15 November 2006

Development of the South China Sea Project Training Programme

Funds from the GEF grant were originally allocated to a variety of activities designed to build capacity and effect the training required to achieve the medium term objective of “elaborating and agreeing at the intergovernmental level the Strategic Action Programme encompassing specific targeted and costed actions for the longer-term, to address the priority issues and concerns”. Several forms of training and capacity building were envisaged in the original project and can be grouped into three broad categories:

  • Support for young scientists working in the demonstration sites,
  • Study tours to demonstration sites, and
  • Training courses and workshops.

By decision of the Project Steering Committee (PSC) funds have been allocated and expended in support of in-service training of young individuals from the focal ministries in the management and operation of a complex regional project, through secondment to the Project Co-ordinating Unit. Individuals from: Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Philippines, Thailand and Viet Nam have been seconded by their governments to work in the Project Co-ordinating Unit (PCU), in order to become familiar with the operation and management of the project and the rules of procedure and operational protocols of the United Nations System. This programme has been remarked upon and commended in both the Mid-term Evaluation and the Specially Managed Project Review completed in 2004.

In 2004, the PCU prepared a discussion document entitled “Regional Co-ordination, Dissemination of Experiences, and Personnel Exchange between Sites”. This document was considered and refined at the level of the Regional Working Groups and the Regional Scientific and Technical Committee before being considered and approved by the Project Steering Committee and provides operational level details for the exchange programme. Subsequent to the approval of these procedures the Focal Points responsible for the Demonstration Sites were to have produced details of what opportunities for training existed at each site, and what the training needs were at each site.

Training needs and opportunities at the demonstration sites were commented upon only in a few of the demonstration site proposal documents. This limited information was deemed insufficient for use in the development of an actual training programme for the project, and in this connection, the Sixth Meetings of the Regional Working Groups discussed training needs and opportunities specific to the demonstration sites. In addition questionnaires were completed in each of the meetings, designed to assess the extent to which capacity had already been built in the Specialised Executing Agencies, the extent of networking achieved in the preparatory phase and the requirements for further capacity building during the operational phase of the project. The needs and opportunities identified by the Working Groups for each of the sites/project components varied greatly in terms of the areas of training, the modes of training, duration and frequency of training, and the numbers of participants.

At the Sixth Meeting of the Regional Scientific and Technical Committee (RSTC), a small working group comprised of the National Technical Focal Points from Viet Nam and the Philippines, and the two expert members Dr. Ong Jin-Eong and Dr. Anond Snidvongs, was formed to discuss an approach to developing the proposal for a training programme in the context of the South China Sea Project.

The view of the small working group was that there was such a diverse range of requests and identified needs for training that it would not be practical for the project to develop a training programme that attempted to meet all needs and that certainly such a programme could not be developed during that meeting.

In recognition of the complexity of the task of preparing a training programme for the project, a small sub-committee of the RSTC (comprising Mrs. Wahyu Indraningsih, Dr. Gil Jacinto, Dr. Suvaluck Satumanatpan, and Dr Ong Jin-Eong) was formed to prepare a proposal. It was agreed that the group would prepare a preliminary programme that could be circulated to the members of the RSTC by the end of February 2006 and that members of the RSTC would have one month within which to comment on the proposal before it was distributed to the regional working groups and other network members. The following sections reflect the discussions and recommendations of the sub-committee that met in the PCU office in Bangkok from 6th-10th February 2006.

Rationale for the Selection of Training Needs

In arriving at the selection of training needs (a total of 91 requests for training were identified during the Regional Working Group meetings for the habitat sub-components alone), the sub-committee essentially considered:
  • The most common needs (from the questionnaire responses),
  • What each of the demonstration sites has to uniquely offer, and
  • The results of the causal chain analyses of each of the demonstration sites.

 Based on the total number of requests or identified needs, the following priorities were apparent:

  • Community-based management,
  • Assessment and monitoring: resource/socio-economic,
  • Fisheries and habitat management, and
  • Income generation and financing.

The analysis of the results of the casual chain analyses of the demonstration sites very strongly supported the fact that a lack of effective management was the main root cause of environmental degradation. This was in line with the questionnaire responses where the principal need for training was management related.

Training Opportunities

In order to respond to the identified priority training needs, various training modes and associated themes for each mode were subsequently identified as follows:

  • Training courses;
  • Study tours;
  • Staff exchanges; and,
  • Participation in conferences or workshops.

Training Courses

Training courses will consist of the following:
  • Regional training courses;
  • Echo seminars/workshops conducted at the national or local level by participants of the regional training courses; and
  • Specialised training courses at the regional or national level, depending on the demand expressed by participants at the end of each regional training course.

Regional Training Courses

Courses conducted at the regional level will last between 1 and 2 weeks, and will focus on the following seven topics:
  • Management models and strategies for coral reef and seagrass ecosystems
  • Mechanisms for sustainable production/use of mangroves
  • Mechanisms for sustainable production/use of wetlands
  • Community-based resource management
  • Establishment and Management of Fisheries Refugia
  • Identification of larval and juvenile fish
  • Economic valuation and sustainable financing
  • Project design, planning and financial management

National Seminars

Shortly after the regional training courses, participants will be expected to conduct "echo” seminars/workshops in their respective countries or demonstration sites. These echo training opportunities will provide local participants with abridged versions of the regional training courses and will be conducted in the local language, as appropriate. These seminars/workshops are envisaged to last 2 to 3 days and are expected to be conducted within a month of the return of the participants to their countries.

The costs associated with the conduct of these echo seminars will be provided by the project through the focal points in the SEAs, government or host organisation, as appropriate. The disbursement of funds will be based on the acceptance of an operational budget and follow standard financial reporting procedures.

Specialised Training Courses

Specialised training courses will be priority topics/skills, which may be taken up during the regional training courses but where more elaboration may be needed for their use and application in the participating countries and demonstration sites. These courses will target practitioners and technical staff, and may be conducted at the regional or in-country level. Topics for these courses may include:

  • Seagrass monitoring/assessment;
  • Coral reef monitoring/assessment;
  • Culture of marine organisms for supplemental livelihood or habitat rehabilitation;
  • Economic valuation and sustainable financing;
  • Site level geographic information system (GIS); and,
  • Estimating carrying capacity of coastal environments using numerical models.

Study Tours
In general, participants in the study tours will be those involved in or contributing toward policy formulation, those involved in demonstration site activities or taking part in similar initiatives, and able to communicate in spoken and written English. These would include local government officials, staff at demonstration sites, members of national committees under this project, national level coordination officials, and those involved in identified parallel sites to this project. Suitable topics for study tours include:
  • Role of coastal habitats in mitigating land-based pollution
  • Sustainable management of mangroves
  • Community-based resource management
  • Coral reefs and tourism

The study tours may be implemented by the Implementing Entities involved in the conduct of the regional training courses, and would generally last for one week each.

Staff Exchanges

A third mode of training opportunities would be through the exchange of staff and personnel between/among demonstration sites or project-affiliated staff in the participating countries. During the early stages of this project, this training mode was implemented through the in-service training of staff of national focal agencies of participating countries. Individuals from Cambodia, China, Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand and Viet Nam spent several months at the Project Coordinating Unit in Bangkok to learn various skills needed in running a regional project including project planning and financial management. This will be continued in this phase of the project with opportunities provided to additional staff at the national or demonstration site level.

In addition, staff exchange may take the form of individuals at a demonstration site in one country going to a demonstration site in another country to learn specialized skills or methods that may be used in their locality. For example, one might wish to participate in the process at a demonstration site of mobilizing various sectors to enact a local ordinance to manage coastal habitats or resources. It seems obvious from the responses to date that both needs and opportunities might best be served by periods of time shorter than the six months originally envisaged.

Participation in Conferences and Workshops

A fourth mode of training is through participation in conferences or workshops relevant to the needs of the project. Following the discussion at the Sixth Meeting of the RSTC in Batam, Indonesia during December, 2005 and the subsequent approval by the Project Steering Committee, 14 individuals presented papers and took part in the PEMSEA conferenceheld in Hainan, China in December, 2006.

Selecting Implementing Entities for Regional Training Courses

Eligible Implementing Entities (EIEs) must submit proposals to the Project Co-ordinating Unit (PCU) for selection as an Implementing Entity for a South China Sea Project Training Course. In the initial stage of assessment, the PCU will assess and rank each proposal in terms of how well the information provided meets the Implementing Agency Selection Criteria. The PCU will then circulate a package containing proposals, summary, and ranked list amongst the members of the Regional Scientific and Technical Committee within 5 working days after the proposal submission deadline. Each member of the Regional Scientific and Technical Committee will be requested to rank the proposals provided in the proposal evaluation package.

The proponent with the highest combined rank score will be selected as the Implementing Entity for a given course. In the case that the two highest ranked proponents have the same combined rank score for a given training course, the proponent ranked highest by the PCU will be selected as the Implementing Entity for that course. If the PCU does not receive rankings from more than 50 percent of the members of the Regional Scientific and Technical Committee by the defined deadline, the proponent ranked highest by the PCU will be selected as the default Implementing Entity for a given course.

Implementing Entities selected for a given training course will be responsible for the management of:

  • Regional Training Courses, and
  • National Seminars.

The training courses are the main focus of training programme and will be launched first, followed by the provision of support for members of the partner network to participate in conferences and workshops, then study tours, and staff exchanges.
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