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Footprint Evaluation Thought experiments (Thinking through how to embed environmental concerns into evaluation).



January, 2024


  • E. Jane Davidson
  • Dugan Fraser
  • Patricia Rogers
  • Andy Rowe
  • Kaye Stevens


The Footprint Evaluation Initiative aims to ensure that all evaluations consider environmental sustainability, regardless of whether this is an explicit objective of the project, policy or program being evaluated. This report describes four ‘thought experiments’ undertaken as part of this project. The thought experiments explored whether it is relevant, feasible and useful to consider environmental sustainability in evaluation, how this might be done, what challenges and issues it raises, and what is needed to address these. This report aims to document and share what we learned during this process, provide concrete examples of how environmental sustainability might be considered in an evaluation, and share details of our thought experiment process that others might find helpful. The Footprint Evaluation Initiative is an international collaboration to support evaluators and evaluation managers to consider environmental sustainability in all evaluations, even when this is not a stated goal of the intervention. Footprint evaluation approaches focus on the ‘footprint’ that human systems make on natural systems. This requires attention to the nexus of human and natural systems and addressing effects across both systems. 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.


E. Jane Davidson, Dugan Fraser, Patricia Rogers, Andy Rowe, Kaye Stevens


Better Evaluation

Rights Holder

Better Evaluation