European Practice and Experience
Evaluating Sustainable Development series
Edited by Clive George and Colin Kirkpatrick
Chapter 5: The Role of Evaluation in Regional Sustainable Development
Joe Ravetz I. INTRODUCTION While evaluation is a central factor in regional development policy, it is evolving rapidly in theory and practice. The context is the widening of ‘regional development’ to ‘regional sustainable development’ (‘RSD’), with a more integrated economic, social and environmental agenda. In parallel is the spread of ‘rational management’ and ‘evidence based’ policy at every level of public governance, with the pressure for participation making this task more challenging. There are procedural developments, such as the extension of impact assessment methods to sustainability appraisals, alongside technical developments, such as remote sensing and web-enabled databases. In addition, there are many experiments in communicative processes, community participation and organizational learning. This chapter is based on the ‘evaluation’ strand of a project which aimed to bring together best practice in RSD across Europe, and point the way ‘beyond’ best practice.1 It reviews two contrasting examples of evaluation methods in development. One concerns the modelling of ‘tangibles’ of environmental ﬂows and impacts; and the other is focused on the ‘intangibles’ of evaluation of regional innovation strategy. Each example demonstrates the need for more integrated approaches, and the management of complexity and uncertainty in a practical process. II. CONTEXT Evaluation of regional development has accumulated a large body of theory and practice, since the emergence of European regional policy. Several underlying trends can be seen, which focus attention on new methods and tools for such evaluation. The ﬁrst is the widening of the scope of ‘regional development’ to ‘regional sustainable development’ (RSD)...
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