The European Environmental Evaluators Network (EEEN) kicked off over three years ago, in 2012, in an event organised by the University of Leuven and by the now director of the European Environment Agency (EEA), Hans Bruyninckx. Taking example of the Environmental Evaluators Network (EEN) in North America, and endorsed by Matt Keene at the US EPA, the idea of EEEN has focused on bringing together those who develop, carry out or with an interest in environmental policy evaluation to exchange experiences. The informal advisory group of the network is composed of members from several European countries and the US.
Last week, a fourth EEEN forum was organised over the course of two days in the beautiful city of Florence in Tuscany, Italy. It was hosted by the European University Institute and organised by the EEA. The theme of this year’s event was Knowledge from Climate & Environment Policy Evaluation Supporting the Road from Paris to 2020.
What was particularly great about the event, similarly to last year, was that it stimulated discussions between not only academics, but people working in European institutions such as the Commission, the Parliament and the EEA, in national government bodies such as the Department of Energy and Climate Change and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs in the UK and Mistra and the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency in Sweden, the private sector including Endesa, and academics from over a dozen universities and research institutes. The joint discussions produced many insights on various different angles related to knowledge, transitions and evaluation methods.
The key insights for me were the following:
• There is an increasing interest in and need for evaluating public policies from a transitional and transformative perspective, but for this we need to develop new evaluation methods and criteria, and undertake evaluations from a more complex system dynamics perspective.
- A great deal of very systematic and rigorous evaluation work is being done in different national government departments and agencies, including DECC and the Department for International Development and the EEA alike (paying attention to the above point). This offers valuable sources for knowledge exchange between evaluators and a potential for learning, also for the academics.
- Although governance innovation and policy experiments are recognised as necessary to complement or even replace the existing means of (ineffective) climate governance, not much attention has yet been paid to evaluating policy experiments and particularly producing aggregated evaluations or meta-analyses of multiple policy or governance experiments (linking to the work being done in the context of the EU COST INOGOV network).
Dr. Paula Kivimaa is a Senior Research Fellow at SPRU, University of Sussex, Senior Researcher in the Finnish Environment Institute (SYKE) and a substitute management committee member of the EU COST INOGOV network. She is also part of the Centre on Innovation and Energy Demand, looking at the interplay of policy and low energy innovations in the building sector.
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