ClientEarth is an environmental law charity that uses the power of the law to protect the environment. It does so by holding governments and other companies to account over climate change, nature loss and pollution. ClientEarth is in the third phase (March 2018-March 2021) of a ten-year ‘Forest Governance Markets and Climate (FGMC)’ programme, funded by the Department for International Development. Through a combination of legal capacity building, of civil society (including women) and the private sector, and legal analysis and advocacy to governments, the programme intends to contribute to reducing deforestation and the illegal use of forest resources, and to enhance livelihoods for the poorest communities. More specifically, the programme aims to: a) achieve more effective laws, developed in deliberative and accountable ways in four African producer countries (Ghana, Ivory Coast, Liberia and Republic of the Congo); b) improve the operation of market regulations (in the EU and China); and c) improve international policies impacting forest resources. NPC were commissioned to undertake a mid-term evaluation of ClientEarth’s FGMC programme.
The evaluation, which involved reviewing reporting materials as well as conducting stakeholder interviews and facilitating a project team focus group, was intended to serve as a progress report for the Department for International Development and to inform ClientEarth’s plans for the future development of the programme. Whilst identifying long-term impact was outside of the scope of this work, NPC helped ClientEarth to identify areas where there had been indications of a positive direction of travel towards achieving impact, by looking at: a) what had worked well since the beginning of the programme; b) what had gone less well and what can be learnt from this; and c) where there might be further opportunities for achieving change and how these could be maximised. The findings of the evaluation were summarised in a report. In addition, NPC made recommendations for how ClientEarth could improve its evaluation approach going forward.
The evaluation showed that ClientEarth made significant inroads over the first 18-24 months of the programme, by building relationships and effectively engaging with different stakeholders across all areas of intervention and by spotting opportunities to use its legal knowledge and expertise to positively influence the forest reform debate. The evaluation was also an opportunity for ClientEarth to reflect on how it can achieve long-term change in complex contexts, which require working with different stakeholders’ groups. Through this process, ClientEarth learned the importance of monitoring the small changes that occur in stakeholders’ mindsets and behaviours, as a way to understand and measure where its contribution is adding value. The learning captured in the report will help ClientEarth to improve its work in the final phase of the programme and to develop a better evaluation approach while providing a good foundation for future funding proposals.