From its earliest days, the Green Growth Knowledge Platform (GGKP) and its partners have encouraged countries to apply indicators and gather data to measure national green economy transitions. In fact, one of the first GGKP joint publications was developed to provide countries with a set of indicators with this explicit objective in mind.
The reasoning behind this is straightforward – data informs governments about whether their policies and activities are bearing fruit. Assuming they are, the governments have clear evidence on the importance of maintaining and strengthening their efforts, and if not, the data provides critical feedback on the need to change course.
But how does the GGKP gauge its own impact? How do we know whether the investment made in this global partnership is generating the results we seek? This is the question that inspired us to develop the GGKP’s first Impact Report.
What is our impact and how do we measure it?
Since the GGKP was first launched in early 2012, we have been working to generate, manage and share the most up-to-date and relevant green growth research and data in support of a global green economy transition.
This effort is underpinned by a fundamental belief that knowledge has the potential to lead to lasting impact. However, as those working on knowledge-related activities know, measuring impact from the development of new research or the sharing of existing knowledge and data is a challenging task.
For the GGKP, we have committed to measuring our success based on our tangible impact in countries and globally. Specifically, we are committed to tracking the number of practitioners and policymakers utilising GGKP knowledge products to develop and implement effective policy change; the number and quality of green growth research initiatives catalysed as a result of knowledge gaps identified by the GGKP; and the number of experts sharing green growth research and activities through the GGKP web platform, social media and events.
Our Impact Report is a first attempt at measuring these impacts. The data included in the report was gathered through desk research, in-person interviews, surveys, web analytics, and social media analysis. Over time we hope to improve both the breadth and the depth of our data collection efforts.
This first report has yielded some interesting insights about the GGKP and is helping us steer the initiative in exciting new directions. Below I have outlined a few of the key highlights.
In 2014, the GGKP launched four research committees on the topics of fiscal instruments, trade and competitiveness, metrics and indicators, and technology and innovation. The research committees brought together a total of 66 global experts, almost equally represented from developing and developed countries, to identify and address knowledge gaps on critical green growth topics. These experts were drawn from 36 partner organizations which provides a good indication of the breadth of collaboration the GGKP has triggered.
The research committees are starting to show results. The fiscal Instruments research committee released six papers as part of the GGKP’s Third Annual Conference on green economy and fiscal policies. The trade and competitiveness research committee also released a paper entitled, ‘Measuring Environmental Action and Economic Performance in Developing Countries’ in May 2015. These most recent publications build on 23 research papers the initiative has published to date leading to over 200 citations in books, academic journals, working and policy papers, and government documents.
Last year was a critical test for the GGKP’s new knowledge platform. The platform was launched in January 2014 with the explicit objective of significantly improving the ease with which practitioners and policymakers can access green growth knowledge. Preliminary feedback has been positive. In 2014, the GGKP web platform received close to 70,000 visits, more than triple the number of visits to the GGKP’s first generation website the previous year. The information provided on the website has also expanded considerably. At its launch, the resource library contained 600 resources and by June 2015 this has grown to over 1000 resources. We have also greatly expanded the data available on the platform to now include 20 data sets for 193 countries, stretching back 50 years. A new data visualization tool launched in early 2015 helps users dive into the data, exploring trends across time and across countries.
And we hope this is just the beginning.
Surveys carried out at our events show that 28% of the respondents noted that they have visited the GGKP web platform, and of those 54% have used the knowledge products available on the web platform in their work. In an effort to continu ally grow and improve the web platform, we have recently initiated an in-depth user survey to better understand the green growth knowledge needs of our users. The survey results will be used to inform future web platform improvements, both in terms of overall strategy and functionality.
The GGKP has also been working to deepen its outreach efforts through a number of digital and in-person activities. As a result of these efforts, in 2014 we experienced more than 100% growth in our social media followers.
Providing an opportunity for partners and researchers to promote their work was a key focus of last year’s efforts. At the end of 2014, the GGKP’s Insights blog had featured over 90 blog posts, contributed by members of the green growth community. The pace of contributions has increased significantly in the first half of this year.
The GGKP also enjoyed high levels of participation in its in-person events. We participated in a total of 13 conferences and workshops from 2012-2014 with over 1300 participants.
We are continuing to foster the development of a vibrant green growth community of practice. Key activities in early 2015 have included the convening of GGKP’s Third Annual Conference in Venice, Italy, as well as the launch of an online collaborative workspace, a webinar series, and a series of video interviews with green growth experts.
This is just a snapshot of some of the key developments and indicators we are currently tracking to measure GGKP’s impact and progress. I encourage you to read the Impact Report, learn more about how GGKP is tracking and measuring its impact, and most importantly, engage with this growing community and partnership.
Article by Benjamin Simmons, Head of the Green Growth Knowledge Platform. The opinions expressed herein are solely those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official views of the GGKP or its Partners.