Case Study - DECC: Evaluation of the AVOID programme

Client: Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC)
Sector: the energy sector, central government

Evaluating research programmes – mapping activities to impacts © Risk Solutions

The AVOID programme was set up in 2009 with the aim of improving our understanding of dangerous climate change. Its findings help inform domestic and international mitigation and adaptation strategies and support international negotiations on emissions targets. A secondary aim is to communicate information on dangerous climate change to a wider group of stakeholders, including the public.

It is delivered by a consortium led by the Met Office Hadley Centre (MOHC) and includes the Walker Institute, the Tyndall Centre and the Grantham Institute for Climate Change.

DECC asked Risk Solutions to carry out an independent mid-term review of the programme in 2011 to identify both improvements that can be made to the AVOID programme, and lessons for future policy-linked research programmes.  The review was forward looking and 'light touch' in nature, carried out through interview and review of documents and written statements from invited participants. 

We found that the AVOID programme is delivering useful work that has informed climate policies in the UK and abroad.  It helped frame the UK's position going into the Copenhagen Conference of Parties (COP) and supported work by the European Union and United Nations Environment Programme.    The cost of the programme is relatively modest and feasible alternatives are likely to cost more than the current approach and may not deliver work to the same high quality.  We therefore concluded that the programme is delivering good value for money. 

Improvements in engagement and communication and a more strategic approach to planning would further improve the value for money of the programme.  AVOID is not unique in facing these challenges.  They are commonly encountered by research programmes that support policy.  Our recommendations address these and a number of additional areas including governance and procurement.