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To deal with the complexities of global issues and problems we need principles to guide us, not a rule book to tie us down.

Blue Marble Evaluation is principles-based because to deal with the complexities of global issues and problems we need principles to guide us, not a rule book to tie us down. The principles direct us to view the world globally, holistically, and systemically. This means examining interconnections of problems and solutions across the artificial boundaries of nation-states, sector silos, and narrowly identified issues. Blue Marble evaluations must provide timely, meaningful, relevant, credible, and actionable information in support of global systems change and, ultimately, transformation, thereby becoming part of the solution, not, as evaluation is often perceived, part of the problem. Learn more about principles-focused evaluation.


While this website focuses on Blue Marble evaluation, the Blue Marble principles can guide situation analysis, design of interventions, working to bring about systems changes as well as evaluation of those efforts.  It’s important to clarify right away that the Blue Marble perspective is both an approach to evaluation and a way of thinking about all aspects of systems change initiatives and interventions at all levels at which they occur from local to global.


Blue Marble Evaluation is guided by four overarching principles, which are implemented through twelve operating principles. The distinction between overarching and operating principles is like the distinction between goals and objectives.


Overarching principles provide big picture, general guidance.

Operating principles provide more specific guidance.

Overarching principles


Global Thinking Principle

Apply whole Earth, big picture thinking to all aspects of systems change.


Global problems like climate change, worldwide pollution, and global disparities require global interventions and, correspondingly, globally-oriented and world savvy evaluators.


Cuba. ©2012 Ellen Harasimowicz. All Rights Reserved

Anthropocene as Context Principle

Know and face the realities of the Anthropocene and act accordingly.


Human actions have created the global problems humanity faces; human actions are necessary to resolve these problems; thus, there are things for evaluators to know about global sustainability in the context of the Anthropocene to undertake evaluations knowledgeably and credibly.

harasimowicz - john olson

Transformative Engagement

Engage consistent with the magnitude, direction, and speed of transformations needed and envisioned.


Global, anthropogenic problems are so severe, threatening the future sustainability of the planet and humanity, that major and rapid systems transformations are needed.

Integration Principle

Integrate the overarching and operating Blue Marble principles in the design, engagement with, and evaluation of systems change and transformation initiatives.



Transformation requires multiple interventions and actions on many fronts undertaken by diverse but interconnected actors.


Operating principles

Act at a global scale.

Integrate interconnections across levels.

Connect across sectors and issues.

Act with a sense of urgency short-term and support resilient sustainability for the long-term.

Harmonize conceptual opposites.

Conduct utilization-focused evaluations incorporating Blue Marble principles to match methods to the evaluation situation.

Engage in ongoing learning relevant to Blue Marble principles and practices.

Acknowledge and act on your stake in how the Anthropocene unfolds.

Design and evaluate transformation based on an evidence-supported Theory of Transformation.

Ensure that what is called transformation constitutes transformation.

Transform evaluation to evaluate transformation.

Integrate and network evaluations to inform and energize transformation.