EPE TIG Week: Empowering Evaluators to Create a Just Environmental Movement by Rupu Gupta

Hi, I’m Rupu Gupta, Program-Chair of AEA’s Environmental Program Evaluation Topical Interest Group, and Conservation Psychologist at Knology, an interdisciplinary social science research organization. 

This year has brought a lot of excitement and momentum for the environmental movement to be able to comprehensively address the complex challenges related to climate and the environment. As I reflect on these promising developments across various sectors, I am reminded of the critical role evaluators will need to play to understand their impact.

The current federal administration has prioritized climate action and policy as core to its agenda. The strides made include the appointment of the first ever National Climate Advisor, a focus on a transition to clean energy that boosts new jobs, and championing environmental justice to address the disproportionate health, social, and economic burdens experienced by BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, & People of Color) communities from environmental and climate impacts .

Simultaneously, a diverse coalition has developed the Action for Climate Empowerment (ACE) National Strategic Planning Framework to enable public empowerment towards a just low-carbon future in the US. In doing so, the US would be the first major emitting country to commit to an ACE plan, as charged by UNFCCC Article 6 and Article 12 of the Paris Agreement.

The framework includes prioritizing collective rather than individual action, participatory processes in decision-making, actively creating leadership opportunities for BIPOC stakeholders, financial investments that address local concerns, and policy creation that helps cross-sectoral collaboration.

I am hopeful because these evolving efforts with the potential for long-term positive change, have explicitly highlighted the intersections between human and environmental welfare, and acknowledged the inequities in who benefits and who’s involved. I am hopeful, because they are finally listening to the deep criticisms of the US environmental movement, centering environmental justice in the work, and aiming to address the systemic racism inherent in the movement.

Hot Tips:

So what is the charge for evaluators? For us to be effective in assessing the progress and development of future environmental initiatives, we need to: 

  1. Identify racial and ethnic disparities in who benefits from environmental initiatives, and how best to enable more equitable opportunities
  2. Develop the skills and capacities to engage with multiple stakeholders holding distinct relationships with nature, and unique environmental worldviews.
  3. Examine how “change” manifests across sectors or systems to capture collective impact
  4. Be creative in studying how environmental efforts and programming advance equity and environmental justice goals.

Rad Resources:

  • Read more about how the ACE community aims to build a culture of climate action in the US.
  • Check out these evaluation insights on how to create equitable climate resilience partnerships between informal learning centers and community organizations.

The American Evaluation Association is celebrating Environmental Program Evaluation TIG Week with our colleagues in the Environmental Program Evaluation Topical Interest Group. The contributions all this week to aea365 come from our EPE TIG 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. The views and opinions expressed on the AEA365 blog are solely those of the original authors and other contributors. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of the American Evaluation Association, and/or any/all contributors to this site.

3 thoughts on “EPE TIG Week: Empowering Evaluators to Create a Just Environmental Movement by Rupu Gupta”

  1. Hello Rupu,
    I am a Professional Master of Education student currently taking a course on program inquiry and evaluation. I had a few thoughts that I would like to share with you regarding your post on the subject matter.

    I found your article on empowering evaluators to be very insightful and point out a lot of important ideas to consider when evaluating programs.
    First off, I found the core focus of your post to be very informative and important, especially now where we have a lot of large movements created to raise awareness for BIPOC individuals. There is a lot of research and information that shows the correlation between the environmental justice needed not only for climate change, but also to support BIPOC who have experienced disproportionate health, social and economic burdens.

    Secondly, it was very inspiring and exciting to read about the ACE plan development and the importance of focusing the framework on collective action and creating leadership opportunities for BIPOC stakeholders. In my course, we have learned much about the different evaluation assessments that exist, and I am glad to read from your article that the program is following the beneficiary approach and the collaborative outcomes reporting. I believe both of these evaluations follow the criteria you have listed, as they give the stakeholders and beneficiaries opportunities to have a role in the outcome of the program so that it best benefits them and implements multiple stages of collaboration and research to follow up with phases of the program.

    Lastly, the hot tips you have given are very helpful, it mentions an important aspect that when being an environmental advocate and part of a program, it is not just the environment that is in need of support, but also BIPOC individuals that are suffering from health, social and economic burdens.

    Thank you for sharing your experiences and resources with the community!
    -Alexandra

  2. Hello Rupu,
    I have never thought about how the field of evaluation may be able to help with climate change. As an individual who is in the process of trying to make some life changes that are better for our planet, it is great to see different ways one can do this. Great post, I loved it!

  3. Hello Rupu!
    It would definitely be beneficial that climate change and the effects we as a society have on it is addressed collectively in order to make a difference that lasts long term.

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