Guidelines for applying the climate and ecosystems health criterion in the commissioning, design and implementation of evaluations

This guide sets out the rationale for why climate and ecosystem health need to be addressed by all evaluations and how this might be done during the commissioning, design and conduct of an evaluation.

Authors and their affiliation

SAMEA (the South African Monitoring and Evaluation Association) working with the national Department of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation (DPME)

Key features

A 35-page guide to addressing environmental sustainability in an evaluation in terms of climate and ecosystems health (CEH).  The guideline sets out the rationale for why climate and ecosystem health need to be addressed by all evaluations and how this might be done during the commissioning, design and conduct of an evaluation, with examples from evaluations.



1 Introduction 3
1.1 Background to the guideline 3
1.2 Purpose of the guideline 3
1.3 Why are climate and ecosystems health important? 4
1.4 The role that evaluations can play in addressing CEH 7
2 The climate and ecosystems health criterion: Definitions and dimensions 8
2.1 Impacts of the intervention on system health 9
2.2 Dimension 1: Resource use practices in the intervention 9
2.3 Dimension 2: Reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, pollution and waste in interventions 10
2.4 Dimension 3: Skills for change 10


3 CEH-related principles guiding the commissioning and undertaking of evaluations 11
4 Preparing for the commissioning of the evaluation 13
4.1 Deciding on how far to include CEH in the evaluation, and with what focus 13
4.2 Addressing capacity and expertise requirements 13
4.3 Encouraging stakeholder ownership and use of the CEH data and findings 14
5 Developing the terms of reference (ToR) 15
5.1 Evaluation purpose 15
5.2 Evaluation questions 17
5.3 Identifying evaluation users/stakeholders 17
5.4 Scope of the CEH application in the evaluation 17
5.5 CEH implications for evaluation design 17
5.6 Methodology: Types of data and data collection methods 22
5.7 Evaluation team 23
5.8 Minimising resource consumption and waste/pollution when undertaking the evaluation 24
6 Managing the evaluation 24
6.1 Steering Committee 24
6.2 Peer reviewers 24
6.3 The role of sponsors/funding partners 25
6.4 Quality assessment of the evaluation 25
7 Bringing a CEH lens into the follow-up to the evaluation 25
7.1 Improvement plan and progress report 25
7.2 Communicating the results of the evaluation 26
8 Case studies: Applying the CEH criterion 26
8.1 Potentially regenerative intervention - Smallholder farming 27
8.2 Social intervention (National School Nutrition Programme) 29
8.3 Design and Implementation of the Berg River Improvement Plan (BRIP) 30



Appendix 1: Relevant climate- and ecosystems-related commitments, policies and frameworks 32
Appendix 2: Considerations in identifying relevant stakeholder groups 35

How have you used or intend on using this resource?

I want to refer back to the section explaining why this is needed, to help make the argument.  I also intend to use it to guide the design and reporting of evaluations which include environmental sustainability. 

Why would you recommend it to other people?

While this is intended to be directly relevant to evaluators and evaluation commissioners working in South Africa, it also has wider relevance to people working in other countries. The list of relevant national policies and international commitments is likely to be particularly useful, as are the three case studies showing how an evaluation Terms of Reference could be revised to incorporate environmental sustainability. The explanation of why this is important could also be useful for advocating for environmental sustainability to be included in all evaluations.