Prague, 16 June 2022 – Evaluation needs to be transformative. For this to happen, one needs to adopt a systems approach, consider the environment and ensure downward accountability. There is no gold standard, and methods should feed the question. This is not easy given evaluation’s typical project-level focus, and its tendency towards upward accountability. Further, the notion of one expert evaluator delivering results, over a multidisciplinary team means that issues of complexity are not addressed. Juha I. Uitto, Director, Independent Evaluation Office, Global Environment Facility (GEF), and co-editor of the book titled ‘Transformational change for people and the planet’ [here], brought this issue to the forefront at the 2022 Annual Conference of the Czech Evaluation Society, during an on-line webinar.
"We can't continue to evaluate projects as if they exist in a vacuum. We must take a systems approach to ensure that interventions actually make a difference", stated Juha Uitto.
Indran A. Naidoo, Director of the Independent Office of Evaluation of IFAD (IOE), who wrote the introductory chapter of the above-mentioned volume, was among the panel members of the webinar which focused on the recently published book. In his intervention [here], Dr Naidoo summarized highlights from his chapter which took an experiential approach, and reflected on his experiences at three oversight units in the last 25 years, pointing to what was and was not achieved.
“The book marks a significant contribution to evaluation in that it adds a dimension that is often not being spoken about, which is transformation. In my chapter, I talk about the relativism of transformation, for which there is no universal definition – what may appear transformative in one context may not be in another”, Dr Naidoo explained.
Drawing on national and international case studies, Dr Naidoo examined the concept of transformation from a contextual perspective, noting the relativism in the concept which is context specific. He drove the point that intention does not mean results, and that critical thinking and independent functions are important for talking truth to power. The panel presentation also featured Serge-Eric Yakeu Djiam, Vice-President, International Development Evaluation Association (IDEAS), and Susan Legro, Czech Evaluation Society. Daniel Svoboda, IDEAS and Czech Evaluation Society, moderated the event.
“A key part of evaluation is to improve quality and make changes. Any changes can be considered transformative. The collection of essays in the book draw from a very diverse set of experiences, where people look at this topic from different angles”, Dr Naidoo highlighted.
Published by Springer, as part of the Sustainable Development Goals series, the book intends to provide an authoritative, interdisciplinary perspective on innovative and emerging evaluation knowledge and practice related to environment, natural resources management, climate change, and development. The book has its roots in the Third International Conference on Evaluating Environment and Development, held in Prague, Czechia, in October 2019, organized by the Global Environment Facility (GEF), UNDP’s Independent Evaluation Office (IEO), jointly with the International Development Evaluation Association (IDEAS) and the Earth-Eval community of practice. The conference brought together a large number of established and upcoming evaluators, researchers, and evaluation users from the Global North and South, representing a wide variety of organizations, to discuss the frontiers of environment and development evaluation. Following the event, the organizers identified and contacted selected participants who made key contributions at the conference and asked them to develop their ideas and papers into full-fledged book chapters according to a coherent plan.
In addition to Dr Naidoo’s opening chapter, the book also features substantive contributions from Dr S. Nanthikesan and Prashanth Kotturi, Lead Evaluation Officer and former Evaluation Officer at IOE, respectively. The book was also recently featured in the IOE Coffee Talk seminar series, at a special ‘meet the authors’ session. During the event, Juha Uitto was joined by Geeta Batra, co-author of the volume, for a joint presentation.
To download the open source book, please click here.
To purchase the book in hard copy, please click here.
To view Dr Naidoo's presentation, please click here.
To access the IOE Coffee Talk special session on the book, please click here and here.
For further information, please contact Alexander Voccia [here]