RE: How are development projects affecting the environment and how do we evaluate this impact? | Eval Forward

Dear all, Dear Yosi

Thank you Yosi for this  really important subject and I apologize for late contribution. I will try to answer your first and part of your second question according to my experience.

  1. How have your evaluation methods captured the impact of development projects on the environment or climate change?

While most projects I was involved in as agronomist had the impact on the environment stated on project documents, indicators used indirectly measure  this impact.

For example, when we aim at reducing pesticide use, our indicators would be 1) the quantity of pesticides used before and after the intervention; 2) the economic return. 

The first indicator does measure (indirectly) the benefit for the environment. A refinement for this indicator could be for example  soil microfauna, polinator diversity. Then again, the time and funding constraints for evaluators do not allow for this detailed study as it needs careful  field sampling and observation as well as laboratory measurements.

  1. What indicators have you found to be most effective in measuring improvements or changes in the environment/climate change, as well as contributions to improved mitigation and adaptation? Emission levels? Resilience measures?

Most indicators for agriculture Programs related to the environment impact are: Crop diversity (while environment indicators are about all plant species diversity and richness in the area); Land use changes (while environment indicator is soil health ex. soil microfauna) ; Water use efficiency; Input use intensity (mostly pesticides; seeds and fertilizers, which may impact air and water quality used as indicators in environmental studies); Income and livelihoods; Food security; Climate resilience of the agricultural systems.

Conservation agriculture and land use as indicators in agriculture programs can indicate outcomes on the environment.

In their workshop on Biodiversity and Pandemics, experts of IPBES (2020) reported that land use and climate change are major drivers of pandemics risks and biodiversity loss. They used agriculture intensification as example.

Ecosystem health is about resilience (including people resilience), and functioning of the ecosystem, including its biological diversity, structure, and ecological processes (ex.photosynthesis). In this regard, and although for fisheries, FAO experts (2023) developed a framework on positive biodiversity outcomes that can be expected from other effective area-based conservation measures. The general principles in this framework could be used in agriculture.

Have great week