Each week, leading up to the Blue Marble Evaluation book and website launch, we will be introducing a new principle of Blue Marble Evaluation. The first four weeks introduced the four overarching principles. This week we turn to the fourth of twelve operating principles. Click here to learn about the difference.
Principle: Act with a sense of urgency in the present, support adaptive sustainability long-term, grounding both in understanding the past.
Premise: Understanding the past provides a perspective on present realities and future possibilities. Future scenarios include both doomsday and utopian possibilities. Evaluative thinking applied to the present can be joined with futuristic thinking to illuminate forward-looking patterns and trajectories. Monitoring how interventions and initiatives unfold can inform adaptations along the way.
The Blue Marble Evaluation approach to time reframes traditional evaluation thinking as follows:
beyond project and program time boundaries to a global ecological sustainability timeframe;
from a static (continuity) to a dynamic (resilience) approach to sustainability;
from short-term to long-term thinking; and
from past time (Holocene) complacency to real-time (Anthropocene) urgency.
Implications for design include:
Design interventions to accomplish shorter-term results while enhancing capacity for long-term resilient sustainability of the intervention through ongoing adaptation.
Design initiatives with attention to how larger systems dynamics, both human and environmental systems, will affect the development and adaptation of the intervention over time.
Design interventions to contribute to global planetary sustainability.
Include in the intervention design expected and evaluable milestones of resilient sustainability progress?
To what extent and in what ways does an initiative systemically address the relationship between shorter-term results and longer-term resilient sustainability?
How are larger system dynamics, both human and environmental, tracked to support initiative adaptations over time?
To what extent, in what ways, and within what timeframe does a particular initiative contribute to global planetary sustainability?
How and when are evaluation activities and reporting timed to ensure timeliness?