The monitoring, evaluation and learning guidelines suggested in Module 8 refer to the national IEA process described in Module 2, presented here in Figure 1. Module 8 argues that in order to have the desired policy effects, you need to monitor and evaluate the process, products and impacts, and use your lessons learned in planning and improving the next IEA cycle.
Figure 1: Stages of National IEA Process – Monitoring and Evaluation Marked in Grey
Monitoring and evaluation of an IEA process and its impacts focuses on how the assessment process has been organized to have a desired impact on policy making.
Let’s understand how monitoring, evaluation and learning can be used as complementary tools that build on each other’s impact to improve an IEA process (Table 1).
Monitoring is a planned, systematic process of observation that closely follows a course of activities, and compares what is happening with what is expected to happen. Monitoring the IEA process makes sure the environmental assessment meets its goals, while working within the scope of allocated resources (i.e., time, financial, human, informational and technical).
Evaluation is a process that assesses an achievement against preset criteria. Evaluations can have a variety of purposes (Section 2.1), and follow distinct methodologies (process, outcome, performance, etc). Evaluation of the IEA process determines the extent to which achievements (outputs, outcomes and impacts) are comparable with the originally intended purpose, and what lessons can be learned for the next environmental assessment and management cycle. The evaluation of the process is, first and foremost a capacity-development opportunity.
Table 1: Comparison of Monitoring and Evaluation
||Collecting data on progress.
||Assessing data at critical stages of the process.
|Sense of completion
||Sense of progress.
||Sense of achievement.
||Past – future.
||What needs to happen now to reach our goal?
||Have we achieved our goal?
How can we do better next time?
||Continuous throughout the
|Intermittent; at the beginning or end of significant milestones.
||Implementation of a plan.
||Designing the next planning cycle.
||Progress indicators needs to be closely monitored by a
|Evaluation results need to be discussed, processed and interpreted by all stakeholders.
Learning is an emotional and/or cognitive transformation taking place during information collection and information processing. Learning brings about behaviour change or in the ability to act differently. Learning can happen whether it is intended or unintended. Monitoring and evaluating the IEA process offer learning opportunities. Planning for and making use of these learning opportunities can bring about lessons that comprise key inputs to improve an iterative IEA process. Missing these learning opportunities decreases the influence of the IEA process on policy making.