AaEA Week: Using M&E for Conservation and Peacebuilding by Amanda Woomer

Hi there! I’m Amanda Woomer, a M&E professional and environmental conservation and peacebuilding enthusiast. I am also the co-chair of the Environmental Peacebuilding Association’s M&E Interest Group. Over the last few years, I have worked with organizations like the Center for Conservation Peacebuilding and Conservation International to understand how M&E can support their respective work in the areas of peacebuilding capacity building and conflict-sensitive conservation. Recently, I also had the opportunity to attend the 1st International Conference on Environmental Peacebuilding, where M&E was a steady theme.

Lesson Learned: 

  • Attendees at the Conference on Environmental Peacebuilding recognized that the field lacks the kind of robust approaches to monitoring and evaluating outcomes that could support more effective action, limit negative unintended consequences, and provide a basis for sharing lessons learned. However, there is concern that any such approach might be too complicated and burdensome for an already complex field. The development of modest yet effective M&E systems that balance rigorous evidence gathering with action are needed.
  • Conflict-sensitive conservation and environmental peacebuilding often coexist but are not the same thing. “Conflict-sensitive” describes a way in which we can do something like peacebuilding or conservation, while “environmental peacebuilding” refers to a category of activities we can undertake. We can do conflict-sensitive conservation without pursuing peacebuilding goals specifically. For example, we might seek to protect a forest without aggravating an existing conflict between two local groups but not attempt to explicitly resolve the conflict either. We can also pursue environmental peacebuilding objectives in ways that are not actually sensitive to the conflict, although this likely will not end well!

Hot Tip: The good news is that by incorporating M&E into this work, we can better understand to what degree a project is conflict-sensitive or whether it is achieving its peacebuilding goals. This might look like monitoring project implementation for participatory, inclusive, and culturally appropriate processes (conflict sensitivity) or using outcome mapping, process tracing, or conflict-related indicators to understand how a project affects community relationships or the number of violent incidences (peacebuilding).

Rad Resources:

The American Evaluation Association is celebrating Atlanta-area Evaluation Association (AaEA) Affiliate Week with our colleagues in the AaEA Affiliate. The contributions all this week to aea365 come from AaEA Affiliate members. Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to aea365@eval.org. aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.

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