Seminar: Lauren Mermet, "A concern-focused approach to policy evaluation: issues and perspectives for forest policy"

Past Event

12 November 2010, 5:15pm - 8:00pm

School of Geography and Environment
South Parks Road, Oxford OX1 3QY

The evaluation of environmental policies (and of policies with environmental impact) is riddled by numerous complexities. Some of the most salient ones currently are the diversity of stakeholders and worldviews, the complexity of the natural, technical and socio-economic processes involved, the uncertainties inherent in contemporary science-society relations. One may add the complexity of policy intervention itself: any policy or public action mechanism is bound to be only a small part of the vast set of policies and intervention mechanisms affecting the environmental issue at stake. Moreover, in pursuing their goals, most if not all environmental policies come in conflict with other, often very powerful, policies and public action mechanisms that run against these goals. The momentous dialectics between EU agricultural policies and water or biodiversity policies in Europe is a classic example. How is one to evaluate the success of one policy, in such an ambiguous and contradictory context? Most of the recent literature has focused on integrative, participative evaluation approaches to overcome contradictions in actions and conflicts in expectations and views.

A very different reframing strategy is proposed here for evaluation theory and methodology, i.e. focusing the evaluation on a clearly defined, limited set of environmental expectations. The talk will focus on the general issues of the concern-focused approach: the motives for such a reframing move, the consequences for evaluation design and implementation, the concept of pluralistic debate, participation and environmental integration it rests upon. Based on the example of on-going research on the contribution of FCPF (Forest Carbon Partnership Facility) to REDD, and of both to public action against deforestation, it is hoped that the talk will open a discussion on how to approach evaluation of policies that effectively address environmental concerns about forests.

Laurent Mermet is Professor of Environmental Management at AgroParisTech, Paris, and Associate Research Fellow at the Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment, Oxford University. From an initial background in ecology, he rapidly turned to a management science doctorate, proposing a strategic management perspective on societal action to manage ecological systems. His work covers three related areas: strategic analysis of environmental management, negotiation and public participation in environmental decision-making, and environmental futures studies methodologies. In the field of policy evaluation, he develops a strategic approach to the evaluation of policies from an environmental concern perspective (L.Mermet, R.Billé, M.Leroy, 2010, /Concern-focused evaluation for ambiguous and conflicting policies: an approach from the environmental field, American Journal of Evaluation/, 31(2), 180-198).

The seminar is open to all. Please go to to register.