International Policy Update - United Nations, Evaluation of EvalPartners, and More Global Events

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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This has been a very busy month for evaluation around the globe. As you’ll see below, the U.N. Secretary-General offered strong support for evaluation, the three-year-old EvalPartners Initiative was evaluated, and six events were held on four different continents to celebrate EvalYear 2015. These are exciting days to be in evaluation!

U.N. Secretary-General Highlights the Importance of Evaluation

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon recently lit the evaluation torch to celebrate 2015 as the International Year of Evaluation. This photo shows him alongside our evaluation colleagues Deborah Rugg and Marco Segone.

During the ceremony, Ki-moon stressed the importance of evaluation in strengthening developing nations around the world.

“I welcome the designation of 2015 as the International Year of Evaluation – the same year in which the United Nations marks its 70th anniversary and will make momentous decisions about our future prosperity, safety, and well-being. Evaluation everywhere, and at every level, will play a key role in implementing the new development agenda,” Ki-moon said. “Evaluation is not easy. Nor is it popular. But it is essential. … All of us share a responsibility to strengthen this important function. I look forward to working with all of you to strengthen evaluation capacity so that it can play its rightful role in building lives of dignity for all.”

EvalPartners Evaluates Itself

AEA is a member of the International Organization for Cooperation in Evaluation (IOCE), and thus also ofEvalPartners (EP), the global movement to strengthen national evaluation capacities. EP is very young – only three years old – and in an admirable example of “practicing what we preach,” EP commissioned two external evaluators to conduct a developmental evaluation of what EP is, what it does, and what it signifies on the global stage. EP leaders wanted the evaluation to help shape decisions about what EP could be and could achieve beyond EvalYear 2015.

The evaluation focused on three key issues: (1) EP’s role in the international evaluation landscape; (2) EP’s efforts and effects on capacity building at multiple levels; and (3) EP’s governance structure, decision-making, and implementation processes. Data were gathered via document reviews, online surveys of professional evaluators, key informant interviews, targeted email surveys, questionnaires, and participant observation of EP meetings.

Overall, the evaluators were quite positive about EP, saying, “EvalPartners has achieved a great deal in a short amount of time. Its successes appear to share four characteristics: (1) resonance and relevance to the broader evaluation community; (2) a focus on building and leveraging relationships between and across evaluation actors; (3) flexibility and openness; and (4) boldness of imagination.”

At the same time, the evaluators offered 16 recommendations to improve the situation in nine key areas. The EP leadership is currently studying those recommendations and developing plans to move forward. You can read the full, 97-page report here and the six-page executive summary here.

Six Additional Events Held to Celebrate EvalYear 2015 Around the Globe

  • More than 120 evaluators from the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) recently joined with Egypt’s minister of social solidarity to light the evaluation torch during the fourth EvalMENA conference in Cairo, Egypt. You can view here a group photo of the participants, and you can watch here a TV news report of the conference, featuring interviews with the two EvalPartners co-chairs, Ziad Moussa (in Arabic at the 3:00 mark) and Marco Segone (in English at the 3:42 mark).
  • The Network for Evaluation of Latin America and Caribbean (ReLAC in Spanish) recently held its fourth annual conference in Lima, Peru. Over 400 participants attended from national and international institutions throughout Latin America. The conference was opened by Peru’s minister of health, a former professor of evaluation. Sessions focused on evaluation advances in recent years and on new approaches for the future. One theme was the need to improve evaluation reports to provide easier access to data and ideas. For example, some reports take only five to seven pages, while other reports contain no text at all, only graphics presentations. An excellent collection of photos and highlights (in Spanish) from many different sessions can be viewed here
  • The Israeli Association for Program Evaluation (IAPE) recently held its 13th annual conference, under the theme Advocacy for Evaluation. The conference opened with a talk by Eliad Shraga, chairman of the Movement for Quality Government in Israel. This was followed by a video lecture by, and Skype conversation with, AEA’s own Rakesh Mohan, director of the Office of Performance Evaluations in the state of Idaho and a staunch advocate for evaluation. The day ended with workshops to plan various advocacy efforts. Photos and more details of the day can be seen here.
  • The Réseau Ivoirien de Suivi et d'Evaluation (RISE) recently held its very first Ivorian Evaluation Days in Abidjan, Ivory Coast. This French-speaking conference launched activities in Africa for the 2015 International Year of Evaluation. Under the patronage of the minister of planning and development, national and international experts, representatives of government, universities, NGOs, the private sector, and civil society discussed the necessary conditions for a better evaluation culture in Côte d’Ivoire. The chair of the African Parliamentarians Network for Development Evaluation was also present. You can view here some of the key participants.
  • Several organizations recently held a conference at Wageningen University in the Netherlands on Monitoring and Evaluation for Responsible Innovation. The conference encouraged evaluators to ask if program goals are responsible and how evaluators can become more aware and critical of unexpected effects. For example, do evaluators have an obligation to be clear which questions must be asked? What competencies are needed to do this? What conversations should be held with whom? And who is accountable for transformative innovation? Keynote speakers were Dr. Irene Guijt and Dr. Phil Macnaghten. Conference participants can be seen here
  • In New Zealand, 24 public sector research and evaluation teams recently joined with the Prime Minister’s office, the Ministry of Finance, and evaluation associations from both New Zealand (ANZEA) and Australasia (AES) to launch a year-long series of events as part of EvalYear 2015. The events are designed to improve policy outcomes through the use of evaluation. Throughout the year, there will be a series of “How Do I?” workshops targeted to policy and program participants. More information about these events is here
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