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Ad hoc group in the DeGEval - Evaluation Society

About us

The ad-hoc group "Evaluation of Sustainability" was founded as part of the DeGEval Annual Conference 2022. Around 30 people from five different working groups are involved. Of these, a smaller group of around ten people regularly met virtually once a month. The group was initiated by Sonja Kind ( and Christiane Kerlen (, who are happy to receive expressions of interest or information.

The overarching aim is to establish sustainability in the sense of the three-pillar model (economy/ecology/social aspects) as a standard criterion in evaluations. As a voluntary commitment, all evaluators and commissioning parties should examine the extent to which sustainability can be taken into account in an evaluation.


The challenge is that the term 'sustainability' is used in different ways. The group is not developing a new, generally valid definition of sustainability, as the term is established in different contexts on the one hand and is in a state of flux on the other. However, the aim is to improve the understanding of the term and achieve greater clarity in the evaluation context. In principle, we are guided by the definition of the German Council for Sustainable Development, but take into account that 'sustainable development' is not the same as 'sustainability'. The group distinguishes between durability on the one hand and sustainability on the other. It uses the terms as follows:


The extent to which the effects of an intervention last or are likely to last. Depending on the timing of the assessment, this may involve analyzing the effects that have occurred or estimating the likelihood of their persistence in the medium and long term.



A concept according to which no more may be consumed than can be regrown, regenerated and made available again in the future. Sustainability takes into account ecological, social and economic aspects in their interrelationship in order to ensure the satisfaction of basic needs and a good quality of life, both now and in the future, everywhere in the world.

Justification and derivation

The term "sustainability" has evolved since the 18th century and is subject to various meanings. In the evaluation context, there are ambiguities due to technical references and international contexts. The group considers various meanings of sustainability, such as the three-pillar model and the OECD-DAC criteria.

The importance of sustainability in evaluation is increasing against the backdrop of global challenges. The Sustainable Development Goals and EU sustainability goals are already reflected in political measures. In future, the effects of sustainability are to be made measurable. The ad-hoc group aims to combine perspectives and work on the operationalization of measuring the impact of sustainability.


The group presented the results of its work to date at the DeGEval 2023 annual conference. The Executive Board is examining whether and in what way the glossary of DeGEval standards can be adapted and will report back at the 2024 annual conference.

Since the annual meeting in Magdeburg, several more members have joined. The group is now working on the practical question of how the sustainability aspect can be well integrated into evaluations.