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Sustainability 2015, 7(5), 5735-5751;

Conceptualizing the Effectiveness of Sustainability Assessment in Development Cooperation

Systems Ecology & Resource Management Lab, Biology Department, Université Libre de Bruxelles, Avenue Franklin Roosevelt 50, 1050 Brussels, Belgium
Centre for Sustainable Development, Universiteit Gent, Poel 16, 9000 Ghent, Belgium
Conservation Science Group, Department of Zoology, University of Cambridge, Cambridge CB2 3EJ, UK
Group for Research in Decision Analysis (GERAD)—HEC Montreal, Côte-Sainte-Catherine Rd. 3000, Montreal, QC H3T 2A7, Canada
Department of Geography, Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM), Montreal, QC H3C 3P8, Canada
Plant Biology & Nature Management Lab, Biology Department, Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Pleinlaan 2, 1050 Brussels, Belgium
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Marc A. Rosen
Received: 6 March 2015 / Revised: 30 April 2015 / Accepted: 5 May 2015 / Published: 8 May 2015
Full-Text   |   PDF [725 KB, uploaded 8 May 2015]


Sustainability assessment has emerged as a key decision-support process in development cooperation in response to the growing acknowledgement of the impacts of global change. This paper aims at conceptualizing the effectiveness of sustainability assessment as applied in development cooperation, by focusing on the sustainability assessment practice by actors of the official Belgian Development Cooperation. The conceptualization of the effectiveness of sustainability assessment is synthesized in a set of issues and concerns, based on semi-structured interviews. The paper highlights the specificity of sustainability assessment in the development cooperation sector (e.g., through the cultural and discursive compatibility dimensions of assessment in a North-South context). Effectiveness is inherently linked to the expected functions of sustainability assessment in the decision-making process, which include fostering organizational change, shaping contextually adapted framings of sustainability and operationalizing the sustainability transition. These findings highlight the relevance of a discourse-sensitive approach to sustainability assessment if one is to strengthen its credibility and legitimacy. View Full-Text
Keywords: sustainability assessment; effectiveness; development cooperation sustainability assessment; effectiveness; development cooperation
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).

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Hugé, J.; Mukherjee, N.; Fertel, C.; Waaub, J.-P.; Block, T.; Waas, T.; Koedam, N.; Dahdouh-Guebas, F. Conceptualizing the Effectiveness of Sustainability Assessment in Development Cooperation. Sustainability 2015, 7, 5735-5751.

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