UPDATE: This position is now closed.
Terms of reference (ToR) for an external evaluation of Mongabay’s project “Addressing tropical deforestation and degradation with journalism.”
Mongabay is an award-winning environmental science and conservation news organization uniquely positioned to provide original content in a frequent (daily outputs), objective (does not advocate), accurate (relies on facts and scientific information) and timely manner to a global audience of conservation scientists, private-sector decision-makers, government policymakers, civil society organizations, journalists in other media outlets, and interested members of the public. Mongabay’s readership positions the organization as one of the top sources of environmental news, analysis, information, and inspiration on the Internet.
Mongabay was founded with the mission to raise awareness about tropical rainforests. Today, the principle subject matter areas include the intersection of human rights and the environment, governance issues around natural resources industries, news and analysis relating to ecology and species, and threats to environmental defenders including Indigenous peoples. Mongabay’s global nonprofit newsroom with over 80 staff members, primarily editors and staff writers who specialize in a variety of issue areas or geographies as well as skills such as video and investigation.
Mongabay is seeking a consultant to conduct an external evaluation of its project “Addressing tropical deforestation and degradation with journalism.”
The “Addressing tropical deforestation and degradation with journalism” project is a five-year effort led by Mongabay intended to:
- Increase access to information about the role of tropical forests in the sustainability of local and global food system, land use patterns, and biodiversity conservation.
- Improve awareness of linkages between deforestation, commodities supply chains, and consumer goods informs target group decision making in both tropical forest countries and key consumer countries.
- Increase understanding of supply chain relationships, corporate/beneficial ownership, and financing particularly around concession licensing regimes and industries with high deforestation risk.
- Increase accountability for private sector non-compliance with national laws, international conventions and commitments to deforestation–free supply chains by corporations.
- Increase use of forest monitoring data (and data from transparency initiatives) by relevant stakeholders in tropical forest countries.
- Increase influence of Indigenous people and local communities (IPLCs) in decision-making that affects their territories, particularly women in IPLCs by strengthening meaningful representation in media narratives.
- Improve livelihoods, capacity and opportunities for IPLCs, particularly women, in monitoring and reporting of forest and land use.
- Increase the availability of information on criminal activities related to illegal deforestation and land conversion to relevant authorities and the public.
PURPOSE AND USE
This external evaluation is primarily intended to provide an independent assessment of achievements generated by Mongabay and its partners as a result of this project as required by the donor. This evaluation will be used by Mongabay to improve implementation of ongoing and future project as well as by the project donor to assess the quality of Mongabay’s contribution to their outcomes.
Objective 1: Validate outcomes and impacts by going through the results of the project, particularly those included in project reports submitted to the project’s donor.
Objective 2: Determine to what extent the project has contributed to the intended outputs as defined in the results framework and assess the likelihood of fully achieving them upon project completion.
OBJECTIVE AND EVALUATION QUESTIONS
The evaluation entails answering a selection of relevant questions source from the project midterm review question bank. These are organized into four components: effectiveness, coherence, contributions to donor outcomes, and contributions to the donor’s areas of strategic interest.
- Effectiveness – assessment of project progress
- To what extent is the agreement successful in achieving desired results? Please provide a separate assessment according to each project-level outcome found in the results framework.
- In terms of internal, project adjustments, if any, what concrete recommendations do you propose to the organization for the remainder of the project cycle?
- What key successes have sprung from the agreement, and have these resulted in a momentum for greater project achievement?
- Coherence – synergies with other interventions
- To what extent does the grant recipient work with or in coordination with other initiatives funded by the donor? What are the learning points?
- To what degree does the grant recipient seek to create alliances and foster synergies with civil society organizations and other partners, national or international, to ensure harmonization of interventions in the given contexts?
- Specific Questions I – contribution to donor outcomes
- How does the project contribute to protecting tropical forests and other carbon sequestration ecosystems through regulation, legislation, and area management?
- How does the project lead to the protection of the forest and land rights of IPLCs?
- How does the project make forest monitoring data more accessible and widely used?
- How does the project contribute to strengthening civil society efforts in keeping investors, banks, and financial institutions tied to a high risk of tropical deforestation accountable for their activities?
- Has the project lead to an increased number of (criminal) convictions related to forest crime?
- How does the agreement sought to increasing knowledge and raising awareness about the significance of forests for humans and nature, the causes of deforestation, and key solutions in official statements, policy documents, or similar?
- Specific Questions II – contribution to the donor’s areas of strategic interest
- How does the agreement spur or employ innovative working methods, context analyses, partnership models, or similar innovations? Please elaborate.
- What are the impacts of the agreement, positive or negative, on women and gender equality? What are the lessons learned?
- Temporal scope: the evaluation will assess activities since the project began in January 2021 until the conclusion of the evaluation. However, since many of the activities are a continuation of prior donor grants, a review of past project reports and external evaluations is necessary to provide context on the current project.
- Geographic scope: This evaluation is inclusive of Mongabay’s activities in tropical forest countries, with an emphasis on donor priority countries.
- Activity scope: The evaluation should assess to which extent the project has or might achieve the impact, outcomes, outputs, activities and targets outlined in the project results framework.
Mongabay expects an evaluator to use mixed methods (combining quantitative and qualitative measures) to review and analyze relevant background material used in project preparation and implementation including, but not limited to, the project document and results framework, annual reports, implementation plans, and investigative reports (outputs). Key informant interviews (conducted online) with Mongabay staff, project partners, audience members (beneficiaries), and the project donor are expected to be carried out. No field travel is necessary to carry out the evaluation.
The evaluator is expected to use data from our outcomes harvesting tool, harvesting more as part of document review as well as validating claims. In some cases, this is straightforward such as:
- Cases around a project output, for instance, “republication of Mongabay content by other media outlets.” A website link or screenshot will suffice as supportive evidence.
- Cases involving intermediary-outcomes (e.g. audiences develop new or more in-depth research as a result of engaging with Mongabay content). Written quotes directly from the audience corroborating causal link as well as any other supportive evidence (e.g. research publication) will suffice.
A higher level of effort will be needed to validate longer-term changes such as the ones described in project’s theory of change at impact levels. This is due to the level of complexity found at impact level and the nature of intervention, whereby a larger system plays a role and it might be difficult to objectively build a credible contribution claim with the appropriate level of rigor and reliability needed to substantiate it.
The review will not provide an overall organizational assessment of Mongabay or its partners.
DELIVERABLES AND TIMELINE
The evaluation is expected to produce three deliverables: A work plan, a first draft of the review and the final version of the review. After the selection of the evaluator, the donor, Mongabay and the evaluator will have a start-up call. Within the first three weeks of the assignment, the evaluator will develop a detailed work plan for conducting the assessment including a description of methodology, an agenda for interviews, and milestones for completing deliverables. The final version of the review should not exceed 30 pages in length and must be completed by March 31, 2024. The three deliverables will be shared with the donor for comments.
EXPERIENCE, QUALIFICATIONS & REQUIREMENTS
The consultant must demonstrate the following qualifications and experience:
- Experience in project evaluation (theory and practice), particularly with outcome harvesting methods.
- Experience in project management, preferably those related to journalism, media development, and/or communication.
- Knowledge of tropical forests, Indigenous peoples’ rights, land use governance, and/or the commodity agriculture in Brazil and Indonesia are desirable.
- A degree in Development Studies, Environmental Studies, Natural Resources Management, Project Management, or related field.
- Fluency in written and spoken English.
UPDATE: We are no longer accepting applications for this position.
Applications are accepted on a rolling basis until filled. On the application, you will be asked to fill out basic contact information, pay rate expectations, reference information (2), and to upload the following two documents:
- Scope of work – please provide an overview of how you would approach creation of deliverables prior to the project’s deadline. This should include a brief description of evaluation activities, project milestones, and payment schedule. Specific examples of your experience related to this consultancy are appreciated (1-2 pages)
- Resume – (1-2 pages)
- Cover letter – please explain your how your qualifications, experiences, and plans are a fit for this consultancy (optional)
- Two references
Applications must be submitted in English. Please note that you do not need to provide letters of recommendation and we will not reach out to references before getting your permission to do so.
Equal Employment Opportunity
Mongabay is an equal employment opportunity (EEO)/affirmative action employer and provides EEO to all employees and applicants for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, national origin, age, disability, genetics, or any other status prohibited by law.