The Impact Initiative has closed. This website has now been archived and will no longer be updated.
The Impact Initiative has closed. This website has now been archived and will no longer be updated.

Measuring complex outcomes of environment and development interventions

Research Partners:

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Principal Investigator: David Wilkie. Lead Organisation: Wildlife Conservation Society 

Co-investigators: Eleanor Milner-Gulland; Katherine Mary Homewood

Investments to promote desired environment-development outcomes are some of the hardest to assess, because the causes of environmental resource scarcity are complex, and affect multiple aspects of human wellbeing, not just income. Credible evaluations of the impacts of these programmes on human wellbeing are few, offering little evidence to inform decision-makers about what works, for whom, and why. This project has three parts:

  1. a methodological research component, that focuses on how to measure the multiple development impacts of environment-development interventions on the poor
  2. a field research component, that will test the different methodological approaches with developing country researchers to specifically evaluate two field interventions focused on Payments for Ecosystem Services (one in Africa and one in Asia) under different social, ecological and political conditions
  3. a practical component, which will use the results of the research to directly inform how environment-development projects are implemented in the field, building upon the consortium's networks of partners and programmes.

 Reseach results will directly impact how current environment-development policies are implemented, and will inform the design of future initiatives.

Further Resources:

Impact: This project addresses a central development policy issue: how can poor people's experience of change be factored more directly into policy evaluation and formulation? It delivers innovative ways to capture poor people's experienced wellbeing, enabling comparison with more established measurements of change, and building a more robust evidence base about what interventions work, how, and for whom. The project has been specifically designed with the three research sites to address issues that are a priority for local people and national governments. Through the consortium and our national partners, the project is well-placed to ensure that the results of the research are used to influence local decision-making and national policy. Who will benefit from this research? Besides researchers (see Academic Beneficiaries statement) other beneficiaries include: 1) national-level policymakers in the focal countries; 2) implementing organisations and practitioners; 3) local resource users; 4) the wider global network of organisations through WCS's networks and the consortium members; and 5) donor organisations and development policy initiatives. How will they benefit from this research? (1) National-level policymakers in Cambodia, Tanzania and Uganda will benefit from increased understanding of what works, how to measure results, and the implications of the research for existing policies (such as revenue-sharing from protected areas) and new policies (such as PES and REDD). The project sites have been chosen for their potential policy impact, looking at how insecurity of local land tenure can drive land-use change and affect poverty (Cambodia and Tanzania), how to share revenue from protected areas (Uganda), and how best to structure PES/REDD interventions to generate dual development and environment benefits (Cambodia and Tanzania). (2) Implementing organisations and practitioners in Cambodia, Tanzania and Uganda will benefit from increased understanding of how environment and development projects are implemented and evaluated, both now and in the long-term. (3) Local resource users will become better heard and represented, and be more willing to engage, thus improving intervention effectiveness and contributions to poverty alleviation. In all three sites, conditional, market-based, incentive payments are being used to encourage local resource users to reduce pressures on environmental resources, and increase the benefits they derive from these resources. The research will help to understand the extent to which payment interventions are achieving their stated goals, and will propose changes to improve implementation. (4) Global networks of policy makers and practitioners will benefit from new knowledge. Project briefings, methodologies, results and publications will be distributed through consortium partners' networks with reach to >60 countries worldwide. The results will be of direct relevance to programmes in Gabon, Guatemala (funded by DFID) and Bolivia, where project partners are also measuring long-term changes in wellbeing and governance as a consequence of environment-development interventions. (5) Donor organisations and development policy initiatives will benefit with greater understanding of what 'works' and how to measure results. The need for such information has been recognized by the High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness, and is necessary to measure progress towards the Millennium Development Goals. The project will build local capacity through supporting national post-graduate students with scholarships and research project supervision. All the project partners have a strong record at building national capacity, and many of these students and researchers then go on to fill high-level Government, policy and practitioner positions, ensuring lasting impact.

Primary theme: 
Grant Reference: 
Project Status: 
Grant Category: 
Research Grant
Lead Organisation Department: 
Grants Administration
Fund Start Date: 
December 1st, 2012
Fund End Date: 
March 31st, 2016
Fund Currency Code: 
Fund Value: