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Development and application of new methodological frameworks for the evaluation of environmental impacts of rural development programmes in the EU

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Unified environmental evaluation for rural development

A handbook has recently been produced on new evaluation approaches to assess the effectiveness of rural development programmes (RDPs) in delivering environmental benefits.

Climate Change and Environment icon Climate Change and Environment

The EU funds RDPs that promote water and soil quality, climate change mitigation, biodiversity, landscapes and animal welfare. To maintain funding, each country must provide evidence of the achieved objectives according to the guidelines set out in the Common Monitoring and Evaluation Framework (CMEF). However, significant methodological issues remain, including, for example, the establishment of causal-effects relationships, the development of appropriate counterfactuals, and the quantification of net impacts. With EU support, the ENVIEVAL (Development and application of new methodological frameworks for the evaluation of environmental impacts of rural development programmes in the EU) project tested and improved the tools used to evaluate RDPs at different levels of governance. ENVIEVAL provides guidance for evaluators to choose and apply the most cost-effective evaluation indicators and methods to assess the environmental impact of RDPs. Researchers assessed evaluation methods to check whether they are responsive, analytically sound, and easy to interpret and measure. They found a need for more flexible indicators and methods that take into account site-specific circumstances such as data availability, policy relevance, different stakeholder aspirations and expertise. The team tested the evaluation methods and tools through public good case studies in Germany, Greece, Finland, Hungary, Italy, Lithuania and Scotland. This was achieved in the context of the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy and of issues ranging from farming to forestry. The team then recommended using logic models to design and select consistent evaluation approaches for environmental impact assessments across different levels. It created a methodological handbook for managing authorities and evaluators of RDPs. The handbook contributes to more reliable performance evaluations of the environmental impacts in current and future RDPs, making this important information available to decision makers. Lastly, ENVIEVAL helped to identify future data needs to improve the consistency and suitability of monitoring frameworks required by the Common Monitoring and Evaluation System (CMES). The project’s outputs were delivered through workshops and tight collaboration with EU-level stakeholders, the European Evaluation Helpdesk, evaluators, managing authorities and other concerned parties in the Member States. EU rural development programmes are certainly expected to benefit from the project’s thorough work and recommendations.


Environmental evaluation, rural development, RDP, ENVIEVAL, environmental impact

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