Evaluation criteria and ratings

UN Environment evaluations assess the projects with respect to a minimum set of evaluation criteria grouped in nine categories:

  1. Strategic Relevance;
  2. Quality of Project Design;
  3. Nature of External Context;
  4. Effectiveness,which comprises an assessment of outputs delivered, achievement of project direct outcomes and the likelihood of impact;
  5. Financial Management, which addresses the completeness of project financial information and the communication between finance and project management staff;
  6. Efficiency;
  7. Monitoring and Reporting;
  8. Sustainability, with a focus on socio-political, financial and institutional sustainability 
  9. Factors and processes affecting project performance - including preparation and readiness, quality of project management and supervision, stakeholder participation and cooperation, responsiveness to human rights and gender equity, country ownership and driven-ness and communication and public awareness.

Download the detailed description of evaluation criteria here.

Evaluation consultants may propose other evaluation criteria as deemed appropriate and discuss them with the Evaluation Manager. 


An evaluation provides individual ratings for the evaluation criteria. Criteria are rated on a six-point scale as follows:

  • Highly Satisfactory;
  • Satisfactory;
  • Moderately Satisfactory;            
  • Moderately Unsatisfactory;
  • Unsatisfactory and;
  • Highly Unsatisfactory.

'Likelihood of Impact' and 'Sustainability' criteria are rated from Highly Likely down to Highly Unlikely; The 'Nature of External Context' criterion is rated from Highly Unfavourable to Highly Favourable.

In the conclusions section of the report, ratings are presented together in a table, with a brief justification cross-referenced to the findings in the main body of the report. Download the Evaluation Ratings Table here.

The Evaluation Office has developed a matrix providing guidance on what aspects to consider in determining the most appropriate rating to give project performance, i.e. from Highly Satisfactory to Highly Unsatisfactory, under the various evaluation criteria. Download the Criterion Ratings Description Matrix here.


During the 2016-17 biennium, the Evaluation Office began using weighted scores across all the evaluation criteria to calculate the overall project performance instead of a mathematical average.

The criteria that hold the greatest ‘weights’ in this scoring system include: ‘Effectiveness’ (which factors in the following sub-criteria: ‘delivery of outputs’, ‘achievement of direct outcomes’ and ‘likelihood of impact’); ‘Sustainability’ (which includes socio-political, financial and institutional dimensions of sustainability); and ‘Efficiency’. In other words, not all criteria are considered equal, there is a strong focus on the achievement of sustainable results and value for money. 

Download the Weighted Ratings Table here.


The Evaluation Office of UN Environment has found it helpful to also provide examples of evaluation questions that may be asked in relation to certain criteria.

The list provided is neither exhaustive nor mandatory, but provides a bank of evaluation questions that can be used as appropriate.

Download guidance on possible evaluation questions by criteria here.