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Final Activity Report Summary - EASY-ECO 2008-2010 (Evaluation of Sustainability: European Conferences and Training Courses "EASY-ECO 2008-2010")

EASY-ECO 2008-2010 was a training and conference programme on evaluation in the specific context of sustainable development (SD). It followed up on two earlier conferences (EASY-ECO 1 in 2002 and EASY-ECO 2 in 2003; HPCF-CT-2001-00286) and the EASY-ECO 2005-2007 series with 3 conferences and 4 trainings (MSCF-CT-2004-516613). The SD evaluation topic and community addressed and supported through EASY-ECO and with the financial support of the European Commission as well as numerous other organisations and sponsors therefore spanned a decade of excellent research and training. All EASY-ECO events are documented on

The EASY-ECO 2008-2010 project consisted of 2 conferences and 6+6 training courses. In contrast to EASY-ECO 2005-2007, where the conferences took place in Western Europe and trainings in Central and Eastern Europe (in order to show that the expertise available in the West needs to be shared, and that capacity is lacking in the CEE and needs to be developed), EASY-ECO 2008-2010 recognised that a significant step forward has been made in the last 3 years with a special role in developing evaluation capacity played by the EU's pre-accession and Structural Funds as well as EC's EIA/SEA directives.

With a more ambitious goal to provide deeper knowledge to young researchers through a combination of a virtual training and an on-site case training as well as recognising a general need for more detailed and in-depth knowledge, the following events took place in the course of EASY-ECO 2008-2010:
Virtual training and adjoining on-site case training in Saarbrücken, DE; in Lund, SE (with a focus on evaluation of energy policies and land-use planning); Bilbao, ES; Trento, IT (with a focus on strategic environmental assessment); Tallinn, EE (with a focus on sustainability assessment in a transboundary context); and Slavonice, CZ (with a focus on evaluation of sustainability of development assistance projects and programs).
Conferences in Budapest, HU (on stakeholder perspectives in evaluating SD) and Brussels, BE (titled "From a decade of practices, politics and science to emerging demands").

The conferences and the two-stage trainings (i.e. each consisting of a virtual training and an on-site case training; enabled more than 300 young researchers from more than 60 countries to become full-fledged members of evaluation teams dealing with issues of sustainable development in the future as well as launch their academic careers in the field of sustainability evaluation: they acquired a shared inter-disciplinary framework, theoretical and practical competences to utilise appropriate tools and methods, the ability to access the latest relevant information sources, overview of sustainability evaluation markets, complementary (soft) skills such as the ability to write evaluation reports, deal with conflicting stakeholder interests, and communicate with clients.

We also led participants to reflect on their competence, to develop a critical approach, to develop evaluator ethics and sensitivity especially for the political context of evaluations. The project embedded young researchers in a thematic network of leading scientists, practitioners and other SD evaluation stakeholders and supported further mutual cooperation. Several scientific publications, building on the results of the EASY-ECO project, are in production. Volumes 3 and 4 in the book series Evaluating Sustainable Development by Edward Elgar collect the best of scientific contributions from the conferences in Saarland and Vienna (EASY-ECO 2005-2007) and Budapest, and a special issue of the journal Environmental Policy and Governance with contributions from the EASY-ECO conferences should be published mid-2011.

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