UN calls for better evaluation in the post-2015 development agenda

From improving food production for farmers in Indonesia, to ensuring clean water and sanitation for slum-dwellers in India, strong evaluation methods are vital to delivering better development results in the Asia-Pacific region. This was the key message from the United Nations Evaluation Group’s (UNEG) Evaluation Week, held for the first time this year in the region, co-organized by the United Nations Evaluation Development Group for Asia and the Pacific (UNEDAP), and hosted by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP).

Over 120 participants from across Asia and the Pacific, including representatives of more than 30 UN agencies and 15 countries in the region, came together in Bangkok for a series of events from 31 March – 4 April, featuring a high-level panel discussion on Evaluation & the Post-2015 Development Agenda. The panel concluded that, as the 2015 deadline for achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) approaches, and a new post-2015 development agenda emerges, it will be critical for the countries of Asia and the Pacific to embrace better monitoring and evaluation tools.

United Nations Under-Secretary-General and ESCAP Executive Secretary Dr. Shamshad Akhtar explained that one of the broader lessons to be drawn from the MDG experience is the need for stronger monitoring and evaluation systems – nationally, regionally, and globally.

“As we move from MDGs to a new set of sustainable development goals, it will be key in our very diverse Asia-Pacific region, for countries to embrace evaluation and to strengthen national evaluation capacities, to better adapt the global goals to their own specific circumstances.”

“The work and programs of the United Nations are driven by the very best intentions, but we cannot judge our success on the basis of intentions alone – it has to be about making a real and positive impact on people’s lives. For this we need better evaluation, which means better evidence on which to base our critical policy decisions.”

Ms. Deborah Rugg, UNEG Chairperson, underlined the need for evaluation to be country-owned, and stressed the role of the United Nations in building evaluation capacity at the country level.

“We need country ownership in order to have sustainable responses, and we have to help build the capacity to do that,” said Ms. Rugg. “We have learned that simply tracking high-end statistical indicators about past success and failure is not enough – because, in fact, it’s simply tracking where we failed.”

“What we absolutely need now is a comprehensive evaluation framework that allows for continuous country-owned, equity-focused evaluation, providing information for mid-course corrections, so that we don’t wait another ten years to find out how we haven’t achieved our goals.”

“Rather, we need to get that information all along the way, from evaluation, which tells us if we are doing the right things, whether we are doing them right, and whether we are doing them on a scale that’s really making a difference.”

The UNEG Evaluation Week is held annually and brings together evaluators from across the United Nations system to share their work and expertise with Member States and other partners to further discuss ways in which the quality and use of evaluation can further be strengthened. The Evaluation Week is an opportunity for United Nations evaluators to better explain how to strengthen the effectiveness of the United Nations and to advocate on behalf of the importance of evaluation for learning, decision-making, and accountability.