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Card-index course

Impact assessment and evaluation of development projects

Etudes d'impact et évaluation du développement

Responsible Faculty: Faculty of Geosciences and Environment (FGSE)

Teacher(s): Gretchen Walters
Lecturer(s): -

Validity: 2013 -> 2018

No timetable defined.


Autumn semester
28 hours per semester

Teaching language(s): French
Public: Yes
Credits: 3.00, 4.00


- To learn why environmental and social impact assessments were first implemented, their evolution, and the shortcomings
- To understand current methods use to evaluate projects from both environmental and social perspectives
- To apply an environmental and social safeguard system to a real world project


This course focuses on techniques and tools to evaluate large, medium and small conservation and development projects, from oil palm plantations and mining company projects to biodiversity conservation projects. Over 8, half days, the course will expose students to the issues and risks around project implementation from both environmental and social concerns, discuss environmental impact assessments (including strategic environmental impact assessments), High Conservation Value and High Carbon Stock approaches, the mitigation hierarchy, environmental and social safeguards, Free Prior Informed Consent, environmental defenders, and engagement with local communities.

Group projects will be conducted whereby students learn how to apply the Environmental and Social Management System (focusing on biodiversity, invasive species, cultural heritage, indigenous peoples and resettlement) used by organisations such as the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) to assess conservation projects. Real-world projects will be assessed, using those developed for donors such as the Global Environmental Facility and the Green Climate Fund.

Current issues and debates will be explored (e.g. oil palm industry, project scandals by major conservation NGOs) and the class will visit IUCN Headquarters (Gland, Switzerland) to hear from specialists in the sector. A second field trip to an UNIL building work site is also planned. In class talks will be given by experts such as those from The Biodiversity Consultancy (UK).


Practical exercises

Programme requirements

This block cours is normally reserved for students of the specialization in development studies of the master's program in geography. With the explicit consent of the course instructor, students with a background in development studies can be admitted to this course.

Canton de Vaud
Swiss University
Unicentre  -  CH-1015 Lausanne  -  Suisse  -  Tél. +41 21 692 11 11  -  Fax  +41 21 692 26 15