Many policies and programs have objectives relating to green growth, and new policies and reforms take place in the context of existing institutions. Therefore harmonization and alignment are critical to avoid duplication, maximize efficiency (Lopez et al., 2012), and reduce costs (Holvoet et al., 2012). The M&E system should build on existing data collection systems and integrate green growth M&E requirements into existing systems to avoid the risk of duplicative or parallel systems.
For example, in Kenya’s green growth MRV+ system, specific attention is given to avoiding duplication of efforts by building on existing institutions and not requiring too many new resources to manage the system. Capacity challenges are acknowledged and the proposed system endeavors to minimize the number of extra staff needed. It is estimated that up to 100 people will need to engage in setting up and running the MRV+ system, but that these would not necessarily be new roles or full-time staff (Republic of Kenya, 2012). In the South African case, the system has been effectively incorporated into M&E requirements of most public sector departments across the government and at various scales of government. However, a key challenge was getting ministers to work together.
Integration is also important for avoiding reporting fatigue amongst the organizations providing the information (Boyd et al., 2012). Existing institutional structures were utilized for green growth M&E in Australia. To support harmonization across existing reporting requirements, a streamlining protocol was agreed by national, state and territory governments in July 2009 (ANAO, 2012). The Council of Australian Governments agreed that “a single streamlined system that imposes the least cost and red tape burden is the preferable course of action.” The Clean Energy Regulator is responding to this mandate and examining methods to reduce the reporting burden within the regulatory system (ANAO, 2013). In South Africa, the Management Performance Assessment Tool (MPAT) brings existing management systems, measures and standards into one system to enable benchmarking and good practice development.
The institutions involved in green growth M&E are not only environmental institutions. Kenya’s MRV+ steering committee includes key ministries such as transport and agriculture to ensure sectoral coverage (Republic of Kenya, 2012). Although the MRV+ system focuses primarily on climate change, it has also been designed to incorporate M&E of development projects, which would also touch on broader green growth priorities.
While integration is important, for an M&E system to be viewed as fair and objective it must also ensure an element of independence, such as data verification by an outside entity or impact evaluation by an independent third party. For example, the Sujala Project in India determined that embedding the M&E structure within the natural resource institution managing the project would not be seen as sufficiently objective and trustworthy. The project instead employed an independent Indian government statistics agency for data collection and analysis and employed an outside M&E organization that was reputed, technically sound and independent, with a multidisciplinary team that spanned natural resources, information technology, sociology and economics (Raju et al., 2010). This was seen as an important measure to ensure that data systems remained independent and robust and the findings and suggestions from the M&E program were respected and acted upon.