The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) commissioned research partner Technopolis Ltd to lead a project during 2021 that has developed a Theory of Change (ToC) toolkit to support the evaluation of its complex policy remit. 

The overall aim of the toolkit is to enable Defra policies, programmes and strategies to have more consistent and robust frameworks through which to understand and evidence impact and progress and to provide evidence against organisational outcomes as part of the delivery of the UK’s Public Value Framework approach. 

Technopolis Ltd and its partners, the Centre for the Evaluation of Complexity Across the Nexus (CECAN) and Matthew Baumann Associates built on the development of the Defra Complexity Evaluation Framework and departmental needs through a scoping of Defra’s Theory of Change requirements and a review of the literature and resources to understand existing approaches to Theory of Change and complexity. Further understanding of Theory of Change and Defra needs and practical challenges was co-developed through a series of workshops with a selection of Defra policy / programme teams. 

A practical Defra ToC toolkit was then developed and tested for use with policy / programme teams and analytical leads across the department to support the production of complexity-aware Theories of Change for evaluation and wider policy planning.

The Defra (ToC) toolkit is available on Defra’s Science Search website, here.

Read the final report here.

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