Joint conference: Making effective use of evaluations in an increasingly complex world

  • European Evaluation Society UNESCO, 7 Place de Fontenoy, 75007 Paris France

Throughout the course of the twentieth century, evaluation became an institutionalised practice in most of the developed world. More recently, the collective endorsement by UN Member States of a results-based international development agenda, as enshrined in the Millennium Development Goals and their targets, the subsequent 2005 Paris Declaration on development effectiveness and later meetings on aid effectiveness, have been important drivers towards the institutionalisation of evaluation in the developing world. Finally, in the last decade or so, many middle-income countries have taken decisive steps to develop evaluation systems within their public administrations.

As a result, evaluation has now become widely present across the globe and more than ever contributes to better decision-making processes and policies for the benefit of society. Yet, despite the growth of the institutionalisation and reach of evaluation, guaranteeing results effectively fulfil their fundamental purposes of ensuring accountability and supporting learning appears to be constrained by a number of systemic issues.

On the supply side, commissioners and evaluators often need to deliver evaluations under severe time and budget constraints. This brings trade-offs between the quality, scope, and depth of evaluations that can have repercussions on their usefulness. At the same time, promising advances in information technologies and ‘big data’ can offer new ways to gather information more efficiently, in particular about target populations and societal changes, yet making use of the opportunities provided by these technological advances remains a challenge.As a result, evaluation has now become widely present across the globe and more than ever contributes to better decision-making processes and policies for the benefit of society. Yet, despite the growth of the institutionalisation and reach of evaluation, guaranteeing results effectively fulfil their fundamental purposes of ensuring accountability and supporting learning appears to be constrained by a number of systemic issues.Throughout the course of the twentieth century, evaluation became an institutionalised practice in most of the developed world. More recently, the collective endorsement by UN Member States of a results-based international development agenda, as enshrined in the Millennium Development Goals and their targets, the subsequent 2005 Paris Declaration on development effectiveness and later meetings on aid effectiveness, have been important drivers towards the institutionalisation of evaluation in the developing world. Finally, in the last decade or so, many middle-income countries have taken decisive steps to develop evaluation systems within their public administrations.

On the demand side, there is a widely recognised need for empirical evidence to support decision-making, and expectations of what evaluations can do are often high. However, evaluation results and recommendations are not always used as fully as they could be to inform policy discussions and support organisational learning alongside the many other sources of decision-making and learning information.

2015 is the International Year of Evaluation. The European and French Evaluation Societies, OECD, and UNESCO have joined hands in organising an event to discuss the use of evaluation within the context of the challenges outlined above. The purpose of the event is to bring together decision makers and evaluators, the demand and the supply sides of evaluation, to discuss the use and impact of evaluation itself and how this could be improved. What is the potential for evaluation as a mechanism for providing a stream of evidence to inform strategic decision-making, for example on major shifts in policy and significant resource reallocations? What are the building blocks of successful evaluation systems in which evaluative outputs are credible and user-ready so as to effectively inform decision-making and organisational learning, and how can evaluations be better used in this context? Decision makers and evaluators may have divergent views on these questions, yet they fundamentally share the same mission, to develop and implement better policies and programmes to the benefit of their constituents and target populations.

Provider - European Evaluation Society

Format - Face to Face

Cost - See website for details

Duration - 1 day

Learn more - Website