Objectives & Themes

The environmental challenges we are facing today are important, but the available resources and political commitments for tackling them are limited. This reality calls for a more efficient use of the scarce resources. Growing awareness of the interdependencies of our social, economic, and ecological systems requires well-integrated decisions and thus a sound evaluation practice. Besides, in this era of heightened accountability, policy makers as well as evaluation users in non-governmental organisations and companies want evidence of what works, and what does not. This calls for improvement in the quality of environmental evaluations to meet the requirements and desire for better and more accessible evidence of policies’ (cost-)effectiveness.


The objective of the forum is to advance the field of environmental evaluation, which we define as environmental policy and programme evaluation, through more systematic and collective learning among evaluators and evaluation users. At the EEEN forum we aim to bring together practitioners and users of environmental evaluation at any level and provide them with the opportunity to share views, knowledge and experiences about the use, importance and future of environmental evaluation in their respective organisations, domains and disciplines. We will also define what role the EEEN could or should play. This may be the formalisation of the EEEN forum, the formation of (a) working group(s) in a European context, etc.


At the 1st EEEN forum we will approach environmental evaluation from three different perspectives:

  • demand side expectations;
  • side effects;
  • methodological challenges.
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    Demand side expectations. New developments in the world around us influence information needs of decision making, planning, designing and implementing policies, etc. This reality calls for (re)examining the coverage and focus of evaluations. What are the expectations of both public and private actors (civil society organisations and market actors i.e. companies)? Which roles could or should environmental evaluations play? When to evaluate; ex-ante, ex-post or in between? What are the actual uses of environmental evaluation? How to promote the use of evaluations? What can evaluators learn from a better understanding of the needs of the users of evaluations? How can evaluation users formulate better evaluation demands?

    Side effects. Evidence shows that environmental policies, like all other policies, generate intended as well as unintended effects. Such side effects can be both negative and positive. In this era of accountability the need for an efficient use of scarce resources calls for well-integrated decisions and thus considering side effects. How to proceed with identifying, describing, quantifying side effects? How to balance positive and negative side effects with the actual policy objectives? At this forum we particularly target social impacts and competitiveness effects of environmental policies and management decisions.

    Methodological challenges. Environmental problems are often complex, can span long time frames and may be marked by vast and complex geographic patterns of impact and causation. The same applies to policy responses. Environmental policies are in many ways interlinked with other policies. How to deal with the interactions between different policies? These characteristics render environmental evaluation challenging. Handling this complexity in evaluations places high demands on the evaluation methodology. What are the methodological challenges and how to address them adequately?

    Besides advancing the field of environmental evaluation with respect to the above themes, we will also organise a stocktaking of the availability of masters level and professional training courses in environmental evaluation across Europe.