Evaluation at the Nexus Between Nature and Humanity for Transformational Change

This chapter from Transformational Evaluation for the Global Crises of Our Times argues for the need to transform evaluation in the light of current environmental crises and sets out the major ways this needs to happen.

This resource and the following information was contributed by Patricia Rogers.

Authors and their affiliation

Juha I. Uitto, Director, Independent Evaluation Office, Global Environment Facility

Year of publication


Type of resource

  • Discussion paper

Key features

This paper argues for the need to transform evaluation in the light of current environmental crises and sets out the major ways this needs to happen.  It begins with a succinct summary of the environmental crises and their implications, discussing climate change, chemical pollution, biodiversity loss, and pandemics. 

The paper argues that ‘evaluation must consider all interventions in their broader context and how they interact with human and natural systems’, given their significant impacts. Evaluation also needs to move beyond a focus on individual projects and their stated objectives to consider their impact on wider systems.  The paper provides an overview of the issues in evaluating adaptation programs.  It also provides a description of the GEF’s approach to additionality – understanding the causal contribution of its work to the changes that have been observed – and the importance of engaging with the interests who are affected by interventions or who affect environmental sustainability.

“Working in the coupled human–natural systems, GEF’s work affects the people who depend on the ecosystem for their livelihood, be they farmers or fishermen, or whose actions affect environmental sustainability. Conversely, the drivers of environmental destruction – biodiversity loss, deforestation, land degradation, fisheries depletion, chemical pollution, climate change – are in the economic sector. To be effective, the GEF must work in the productive sectors to address the root causes. Finding win-win solutions and identifying trade-offs is necessary.”

Who is this resource useful for?

  • Advocates for evaluation;
  • Commissioners/managers of evaluation;
  • Evaluators;
  • Those involved in evaluation capacity strengthening

How have you used or intend on using this resource?

One of the useful features of this chapter is the brief overview which argues why all evaluations ought to include consideration of environmental sustainability.  I intend to use this as a brief resource to help argue this case for evaluations. 

I am also interested in following up two of the issues briefly discussed – methods for identifying additionality, and engaging with key interests to develop win-win solutions.

Why would you recommend it to other people?

It provides a useful overview of key issues with potential references for people to follow up for further details or examples, including links to GEF evaluation reports.



Uitto, J.I. (2021). Evaluation at the Nexus Between Nature and Humanity for Transformational Change. In van den Berg, R.D., Magro, C., & Adrien, M. (Eds.), Transformational Evaluation for the Global Crises of Our Times (pp. 87-104). Exeter, UK: IDEAS. Retrieved from: https://ideas-global.org/ideas-book-transformational-evaluation-for-the-global-crises-of-our-times/ 

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