Terms of reference (ToR) for an external evaluation of Mongabay’s project “Addressing illegal deforestation through investigative 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 averages roughly six million unique visitors each month, which 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 non-profit newsroom is comprised of 53 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.
The “Addressing illegal deforestation through investigative journalism” project directly supports collaboration between Mongabay, Earthsight, The Gecko Project, and partner outlets who are engaged to produce investigative reports about illegal deforestation in Indonesia and Brazil. The primary objective is to improve governance in forest and land management. Over a 30-month duration (January 2019 to June 2021), this project seeks to demonstrate contribution to this objective by delivering to the following outputs and outcomes:
Outcome 1: Governance in forest and land management (hereunder land tenure and indigenous and forest dependent people’s rights) is improved.
- Output 1.1: Improve in-depth understanding of how and why illegal deforestation occurs.
- Output 1.2: Increase awareness of the extent and nature of high-level illegality, corruption and collusion in relation to forest and land management among the general population and key stakeholders.
- Output 1.3 Identify, publicize and promote interventions by government and civil society actors in Brazil and Indonesia to help reduce illegal deforestation.
- Output 1.4: Improve inclusion of historically marginalized communities including Indigenous and forest-dwelling communities within news and media about sub-national governance of forested lands.
- Output 1.5: Increase capacity of journalists and CSOs in Brazil and Indonesia to investigate illegal deforestation.
Outcome 2: Private sector is working against deforestation.
- Output 2.1. Increase pressure on major companies to address their role in contributing to corruption and other illegalities during conversion of forests for large-scale agriculture.
- Output 2.2. Interventions to help reduce illegal deforestation by companies are identified, publicized and promoted.
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 the Mongabay to improve implementation of on-going and future project as well as by the project donor to assess the quality of Mongabay’s contribution to their outcomes.
OBJECTIVE AND EVALUATION QUESTIONS
The review’s main objectives and specific evaluation questions are:
- 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.
- What are the characteristics of outputs that contribute most in achieving the desired outcomes?
- Is the project’s theory of change being observed?
- Did the project reach the expected outputs within the scheduled timeframe?
- What went well (in relation to the results framework)?
- What went wrong (in relation to the results framework)?
- Internal or external factors that have made it difficult to meet the project targets.
- What specific difficulties have been faced by Mongabay and what were the actions taken to overcome them?
- 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.
- How has the operating context (geography, maturity, partner selection) influenced the project implementation, outputs, and outcomes?
- Objective 3: Provide recommendations for a possible exit strategy and assess the sustainability of results.
- Are impacts and results of the project likely to continue following the end of the agreement period with the donor?
- Provide with recommendations and measures to assure the continuity of the results.
- Recommendations: How and where should the project continue, expand, and/or improve?
- Lessons learned from the project.
- Are negative consequences resulting from the project?
Overall conclusions should be included in the report (conclusions drawn from the above findings, outcomes, lessons and recommendations)
The report should include the following chapters and annexes:
- Executive Summary
- Terms of reference
- List of Interviewees
- Summary assessment questionnaire
- Documents Consulted
The review should assess to which extent the project has or might achieve the impact, outcomes, outputs, activities and targets outlined in the results framework. To achieve this, we expect an evaluator 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.
The consultant 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. Within the first three weeks of the assignment, the consultant 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 must be completed by December 10, 2020. The three deliverables will be shared with the donor for comments. After the selection of the consultant, the donor, Mongabay and the consultant will have a start-up call.
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 investigative 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 Master’s degree in Development Studies, Environmental Studies, Natural Resources Management, Project Management, or related field.
- Fluency in written and spoken English.
Apply online here. On the application, you will be asked to fill out basic contact information, desired fee for the service, reference information (2), and to upload the following 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.