Footprint evaluation project
The Footprint Evaluation project is a co-creation and research project hosted by BetterEvaluation and supported by the Global Evaluation Initiative.
It is grounded in the premise that all evaluations should include consideration of environmental sustainability, even when this is not a stated goal of the intervention. This is so that decision-making can take into account the potential and actual impacts of planned interventions (projects, programs, policies) on the environment.
Learning how to evaluate the potential or actual footprint of an intervention
The Footprint Evaluation project has three main learning questions:
How can an evaluation effectively address natural systems/environmental sustainability?
What hinders or helps this? What are particular challenges and opportunities?
What is needed so all evaluations adequately address environmental sustainability? What are systemic approaches to overcoming hindering factors and amplifying helping factors?
Collaborating to create knowledge
The Footprint Evaluation project uses a co-creation approach for building and sharing knowledge about better evaluation practice. Instead of simply building knowledge (or producing a guide) and then training people to follow the procedures, the Footprint Evaluation project involves working with and reflecting on innovative practice with individuals and organisations, as well as supporting peer learning for adaptation and translation to new settings. There are two main channels for this co-creation:
Thought Partner Panel
The Footprint Evaluation Thought Partner Panel is a small, invited group of individuals who are providing advice and feedback to the Footprint Core Team on the issues and challenges to be considered, useful resources and events to curate, and how to shape the knowledge products from the project.
Footprint Evaluation Community
The wider Footprint Evaluation Community is made up of invited and self-selected Footprint enthusiasts from the wider evaluation, natural sciences and sustainability communities who are interested in learning from and contributing to the Footprint project. Members of the Footprint Community can receive a Footprint Newsletter, receive access to a private discussion group, and are encouraged to share and amplify the Footprint Evaluation learnings in their wider communities. The Footprint Community are kept up to date with new developments and outputs in the Footprint Evaluation Initiative and invited to share their thoughts, experiences, additional resources.
Activities and outputs
Case studies and retrospective 'thought experiments'
These retrospective 'thought experiments' probe what might have been done in a number of completed evaluations, and case studies of concurrent evaluations where an experienced evaluator participant observer will document what is done by the evaluation innovator who is adding the environmental sustainability lens to the evaluation.
Mapping methods, processes and resources for Footprint Evaluations
One of the challenges to incorporating a 'footprint evaluation' into everyday evaluations is the lack of cohesive guidance on how to do this well. As part of this project, appropriate methods and processes for doing footprint evaluations will be mapped to the various tasks in the BetterEvaluation Rainbow Framework via the Footprint Evaluation thematic page.
Where Footprint Evaluation sits in the evaluation ecosystem
Other relevant approaches and interventions
Footprint evaluation complements other cross-cutting initiatives in evaluation which address related issues – including Blue Marble Evaluation, which focuses on evaluating global systems change initiatives, and Transforming Evaluation, which looks at a range of ways evaluation needs to be transformed to support the transformations needed to reach SDGs.
Footprint evaluation can also leverage and connect with other work being done in the environmental evaluation space, such as the Environmental Social Governance indicators in impact investing.