International Policy Update - Global Evaluation Week a Huge Success

From Mike Hendricks, AEA Representative to the International Organization for Cooperation in Evaluation (IOCE), with contributions from Jim Rugh, EvalPartners Co-Coordinator

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Greetings from Kathmandu, Nepal, where the very exciting Global Evaluation Week has just wrapped up. AEA was well-represented here, specifically by John Gargani, AEA president-elect; Mike Hendricks, AEA representative to IOCE and EvalPartners; Bianca Montrosse-Moorhead, AEA representative to (and global co-chair of) EvalYouth; Svetlana Negroustoueva, AEA representative to EvalGender; and Jim Rugh, coordinator of EvalPartners. The week consisted of four separate, but highly related, events:

1. The EvalPartners Global Evaluation Forum II was essentially two full days of roll-up-the-sleeves work to further clarify the “what” and “how” of the Global Evaluation Agenda 2016-2020 (EvalAgenda2020). Over 130 participants from VOPEs, national governments, parliaments, civil society organizations, and UN agencies and funders, as well as young and emerging evaluators, met first to review, discuss, and endorse the draft EvalAgenda2020, then to plan concrete steps to strengthen (a) the enabling environment, (b) institutional capacities, and (c) individual capabilities for evaluation, plus (d) the interlinkages among these three components.

In small-group working sessions, participants developed goals and specific action plans for seven new EvalPartners initiatives: (1) EvalSDGs (focusing on the U.N.’s 17 new Sustainable Development Goals for 2030), (2) EvalYouth, (3) EvalGender+, (4) EvalIndigenous, (5) the Global Parliamentarians Forum for Evaluation, (6) the professionalization of evaluation, and (7) support to VOPEs around the world. Near the end of the working sessions, AEA President-Elect John Gargani assured participants that AEA embraces EvalAgenda2020, and he described some of the ways AEA will support it in the coming year.

AEA representatives played especially important roles in two of these launches. Bianca Montrosse-Moorhead, global co-chair of EvalYouth, reports that “EvalYouth is a new international network that gives a voice to, and builds capacity among, young and emerging evaluators (YEEs). It was launched in Kathmandu with the help of 25 YEEs from Africa, Australasia, America, Asia, the Commonwealth of Independent States, Latin America and the Caribbean, and the Middle East. Collaboratively, we all committed to increasing the involvement of YEEs in VOPE governance, committees, and activities; developing a YEE mentoring program; and organizing EvalYouth conferences.”

Also, Svetlana Negroustoueva, co-chair of AEA’s Feminist Evaluation TIG, attended the official launch of EvalGender+ and reports the following: “As the representative of AEA to EvalGender+, I was looking forward to its official launch. Marco Segone and Rituu Nanda brought visibility, attracted audiences, and encouraged the brainstorming of what could be accomplished. Representatives from a diverse set of regional and gender-focused VOPEs, as well as U.N. agencies, identified key areas of focus and committed themselves to action points moving forward.”

During the celebratory dinner for this forum, a wonderful thing occurred for AEA: Long-time AEA members won both of the two awards EvalPartners presented for outstanding contributions to evaluation on the global level. Jim Rugh was honored for his 40+ years of commitment to evaluators and evaluation associations around the world, and Tessie Catsambas was recognized for her idea to have an International Year of Evaluation 2015, which ended up with an amazing 84 EvalYear events around the world.

2. The Community of Evaluators – South Asia (CoE-SA) deliberately held its 2015 evaluation conference at the same time and venue so that its participants and those at the EvalPartners Forum could interact and share special events. The conference was inaugurated by none other than the prime minister of Nepal himself, and over 300 persons from over 100 countries enjoyed 16 skills-development workshops, 26 panel sessions, and three plenary sessions featuring 10 eminent evaluators. John Gargani gave a very well-received keynote speech and also made a separate presentation at this conference, and Bianca Montrosse-Moorhead gave two presentations.

A truly special treat was the presence of 83-year-old Robert Chambers, a seminal and much-beloved figure in development evaluation, who made a rare appearance at the conference to renew ties with a region of the world in which he did much of his earlier work. For many of us, it was a great honor to shake his hand and to listen to his provocative speech on “Inclusive Rigor in Complexity,” in which he appealed to evaluators to include the voices of those people being affected by development projects when we create a theory of change, develop indicators, design evaluations, gather data, apply statistics, draw conclusions, and use the findings.

3. The penultimate EvalYear2015 event was hosted by the Parliament of Nepal on November 25. Several ministers (equivalent to a U.S. secretary) were present from Nepal and Sri Lanka, and the chief guest was the Right Honorable Onsari Gharti Magar, recently elected by the people of Nepal to be their first-ever female Speaker of Parliament.

After lighting and accepting the traveling evaluation torch from Marco Segone, head of the United Nations Evaluation Group (UNEG) and co-chair of EvalPartners, she stressed the value of evaluation for improving the living situation of all Nepali citizens. She also noted that this is the first time an evaluation event has been held in a parliament building and how appropriate that is, since evaluation can be a powerful tool for good governance by parliamentarians.

This event ended with the formal launching of EvalAgenda2020, the several EvalPartners initiatives mentioned above, and especially the Global Parliamentarians Forum for Evaluation. This global forum is being led by the Honorable Kabir Hashim, minister of public enterprise development for Sri Lanka, who spoke powerfully about the value of evaluation throughout the world. His words captured beautifully both the passion and the commitment of this memorable Global Evaluation Week.

4. Much less visible, but very important, the EvalPartners Management Group met for three days of business meetings to plan for 2016 and beyond. AEA was represented directly by Mike Hendricks and Bianca Montrosse-Moorhead as voting members and indirectly by Jim Rugh as EvalPartners coordinator.

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