Impact Assessment and Sustainable Development
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Impact Assessment and Sustainable Development

European Practice and Experience

Edited by Clive George and Colin Kirkpatrick

Translation of the principle of sustainable development into policy and practice, and the evaluation of the outcomes of these strategic interventions, are some of the most pressing challenges facing policymakers in Europe and beyond. The chapters in this book contribute to the debate surrounding these challenges. By exploring the conceptual and methodological issues relating to the evaluation of sustainable development and analysing European practice and experience, this work provides a coherent and integrated contribution to our understanding of these issues.
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Chapter 2: The Long and Winding Road of Sustainable Development Evaluation

Peter Hardi


Peter Hardi Any way you’ll never know The many ways I’ve tried . . . The Beatles I. INTERPRETING SUSTAINABILITY The focus of this chapter is the need for a common interpretation of sustainable development (SD) in the context of evaluation. The starting assumption is that evaluation, its content, methods and results, will change with the differences in the definition of SD. In other words, the evaluation as a process is not independent of the content: it depends on and changes with the definition of SD. A capacity building project has the aim to influence decision-making in favour of SD, and its goal to make a consistent impact presupposes a common interpretation of SD. Or does it? The difficulty is that there is no standard and/or scientific definition of SD accepted across the board in science and in political/development practice. Unfortunately, there are several hundreds of different definitions and interpretations of SD world-wide. For better orientation, these definitions and interpretations can be grouped in a few clusters,1 and the first objective is to present these clusters. Four main clusters that cover the vast majority of SD definitions will be discussed. These clusters are the following: ● ● ● SD as a lifestyle (more narrowly, consumption) issue, rooted in the discussion of SD as a system boundary issue; SD as a process issue that is characteristic of every transition process, rooted either in the more general discussion of equilibrium or in a discussion of SD...

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