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Evaluating Climate Change Action for Sustainable Development

This book documents emerging and innovative evaluation knowledge and practice for climate change and its links to sustainable development.
Andrew Oliver-Smith


Climate change is among the most difficult challenges facing the world. Its global nature, intergenerational impact, and the massive risks and uncertainty associated with it combine to create an unparalleled need for global collective action. It is also significant in that addressing it will go a very long way toward addressing other environmental problems – air pollution, water risks, soil degradation, and the loss of forests, natural habitats, and biodiversity.

At the same time, the world continues to grapple with eradicating poverty and inequalities and spurring economic growth and the key drivers of environmental degradation continue to intensify with a growing, and more affluent, global population and rapid urbanization, driving increased demand for food, fiber and materials. The associated pressures on forests, land, and oceans are increasingly being exacerbated by climate change, thereby threatening biodiversity and Earth’s life support systems.

Monitoring and evaluating the efforts to address these concerns are particularly important. The stakes are high, and we have an incredibly short window to do things right. Evaluation is essential for us to understand how we can best make use of the limited resources at hand. Evaluators are in a position to present evidence about how we can make a difference in promoting development that is both environmentally sound and equitable. Evaluation also plays an ever crucial role in learning: why are things happening or not happening? Are we doing the right thing or not? Why and why not? Are there better ways?

This book* aims to provide an authoritative interdisciplinary perspective of innovative and emerging evaluation knowledge and practice around climate change and development. It focuses on lessons learned and gained from evaluating climate change projects, programs, and policies as they link to sustainable development, from the perspectives of international organizations, NGOs, multilateral and bilateral aid agencies, and the academia. Authors share methodologies and approaches used to better understand problems and assess interventions, strategies, and policies. They also share challenges encountered, what was done to solve these, and lessons learned from evaluations. Collectively, the authors illustrate the importance of evaluation in providing evidence to guide policy change and informed decision-making.

This book is written for policymakers, program and project proponents, practitioners, academics, and other informed audiences concerned with climate change, sustainable development, and evaluation.

*The full text is available to download from the right-hand column. An overview fof the content of each chapter and its key insights is provided below. Please note that the introductory text above borrows from the forewords to the book provided by Naoko Ishii, Andrew Steer and the editors – Juha I. Uitto, Jyotsna Puri and Rob D. van den Berg; the text below is largely taken from chapter 1, which is authored by the Editors.

In this book

This book has its genesis in the Climate-Eval Community of Practice hosted by the Independent Evaluation Office of the Global Environment Facility. Its overarching goal is to establish standards and norms, support capacity development, and share good practices in evaluations of climate change and development. In November 2014, Climate-Eval with its partners organized the Second International Conference on Evaluating Climate Change and Development in Washington, D.C. The aim of this event was to promote an interdisciplinary exchange of ideas and methods to evaluate climate change and sustainable development. This 3-day event brought together some 300 leading experts and policymakers in the field and included sessions on climate change mitigation, adaptation, and policy, as well as special sessions such as panel discussions and roundtables.

Evaluating Climate Change Action for Sustainable Developmentbuilds upon a selection of the most relevant and practical papers and presentations given at the 2014 conference. It contains 18 chapters in which leading authors examine innovative and emerging evaluation knowledge and practice of climate change and its link to sustainable development. The authors discuss methodologies and approaches to better understand, learn from and assess interventions, strategies and policies. The contributions also discuss evaluation challenges encountered and lessons learned to better understand and tackle difficult areas of evaluation.

An overview of the book structure by the editors, including descriptions of and key messages from each chapter, can be found on page 7 of the full text.


  • Evaluating Climate Change Action for Sustainable Development: Introduction (Juha I. Uitto, Jyotsna Puri, and Rob D. van den Berg)
  • Action on Climate Change: What Does It Mean and Where Does It Lead To? (Rob D. van den Berg and Lee Cando-Noordhuizen)


  • Mainstreaming Impact Evidence in Climate Change and Sustainable Development (Rob D. van den Berg)
  • Pathway to Impact: Supporting and Evaluating Enabling Environments for Research for Development (Tonya Schuetz, Wiebke F€orch, Philip Thornton, and Ioannis Vasileiou)
  • Lessons from Taking Stock of 12 Years of Swiss International Cooperation on Climate Change (Monika Egger Kissling and Roman Windisch)
  • An Analytical Framework for Evaluating a Diverse Climate Change Portfolio (Michael Carbon)
  • Enhancing the Joint Crediting Mechanism MRV to Contribute to Sustainable Development (Aryanie Amellina)

Climate Change Mitigation

  • Using Mixed Methods to Assess Trade-Offs Between Agricultural Decisions and Deforestation (Jyotsna Puri)
  • Methodological Approach of the GEF IEO’s Climate Change Mitigation Impact Evaluation: Assessing Progress in Market Change for Reduction of CO2 Emissions (Aaron Zazueta and Neeraj Kumar Negi)
  • Integrating Avoided Emissions in Climate Change Evaluation Policies for LDC: The Case of Passive Solar Houses in Afghanistan (Yann François and Marina Gavaldão)
  • Sustainable Development, Climate Change, and Renewable Energy in Rural Central America (Debora Ley)
  • Unpacking the Black Box of Technology Distribution, Development Potential and Carbon Markets Benefits (Jasmine Hyman)

Climate Change Adaptation

  • What Do Evaluations Tell Us About Climate Change Adaptation? Meta-analysis with a Realist Approach (Takaaki Miyaguchi and Juha I. Uitto)
  • Adaptation Processes in Agriculture and Food Security: Insights from Evaluating Behavioral Changes in West Africa (Jacques Somda, Robert Zougmoré, Issa Sawadogo, Babou André Bationo, Saaka Buah, and Tougiani Abasse)
  • Using Participatory Approaches in Measuring Resilience and Development in Isiolo County, Kenya (Irene Karani and Nyachomba Kariuki)
  • Evaluating Climate Change Adaptation in Practice: A Child-Centred, Community-Based Project in the Philippines (Joanne Chong, Pia Treichel, and Anna Gero)
  • Drought Preparedness Policies and Climate Change Adaptation and Resilience Measures in Brazil: An Institutional Change Assessment (Emilia Bretan and Nathan L. Engle)
  • The Adaptation M&E Navigator: A Decision Support Tool for the Selection of Suitable Approaches to Monitor and Evaluate Adaptation to Climate Change (Timo Leiter)

“A few lessons are already emerging. First, we need to rapidly break down the sectoral walls that isolate the environment from economics – at the international and national scales – so as to start mainstreaming environmental considerations in the wider decision-making process. Second, we must bring the various lines of funding the GEF provides countries much closer together, making the best use possible of their interlinkages and addressing the systemic nature of the threats. Finally, we must move from just addressing the symptoms of environmental degradation – given we are running out of fingers to stick in the progressively more porous proverbial dyke – and start tackling the key drivers of environmental degradation. “

– Naoko Ishii, CEO and Chairperson, Global Environment Facility, Washington, DC, USA

This book is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution- NonCommercial 4.0 International License:

No changes have been made. The text above borrows from the original text in the book, as indicated.

Suggested Citation

Uitto, J. I., Puri, J. and Van den Berg, R. D. eds. 2017. Evaluating Climate Change Action For Sustainable Development. 1st ed. Cham, Switzerland: Springer Open.

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