Between 7 and 11 May 2018, over 170 participants from more than 40 United Nations agencies worldwide came together at the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) in Rome, Italy, for this year’s United Nations Evaluation Group (UNEG) Evaluation Week. This year’s event was jointly organized by the three UN Rome-based agencies: FAO, IFAD and the World Food Programme (WFP).

The UNEG is an interagency professional network that brings together the evaluation units of the United Nations (UN) system, including UN departments, specialized agencies, funds and programmes, and affiliated organizations.

UNEG's mission is to promote the independence, credibility and usefulness of the evaluation function and evaluation across the UN system, to advocate for the importance of evaluation for learning, decision-making and accountability, and to support the evaluation community in the UN system and beyond.

The Evaluation Week is a yearly event which provides a unique forum for UNEG members to get together, share and exchange latest activities, best practices and lessons as well as knowledge in evaluation and, this year, it was comprised of three key components:

  • The Professional Development Seminar on 7 May
  • The Evaluation Practice Exchange on 8 May and 9 May
  • The Annual General Meeting on 10 May and 11 May

The one-day Professional Development Seminar was held on the first day of the UNEG week and was attended by 120 evaluators. The purpose of the seminar was to provide training to participants on topics which had emerged as highly useful in evaluation work, based on the UNEG members’ survey.

The seminar consisted of four parallel topics, and each topic ran through the entire day. The topics selected were:

  1. Approaches to impact evaluation
  2. Data visualisation tools
  3. Introduction to SenseMaker
  4. Ethics in evaluation

On Tuesday 8 May, the Evaluation Practice Exchange (EPE) opened with the three Directors of the evaluation offices of the Rome-based agencies sharing some of their personal experiences as evaluators.

The Evaluation Practice Exchange (EPE) allowed UNEG members to meet face-to-face, to share and exchange experience, best practices and lessons and knowledge in evaluation, and to develop their expertise on specific subjects related to evaluation approaches and methodologies.

The EPE had three main themes, covering relevant aspects of the work of evaluation professionals. Under each of these themes, several topics were discussed in separate sessions. These themes were:

  1. Managing Evaluations
  2. Evaluation Principles
  3. Evaluation Methods

Contributing to theme 1, Managing Evaluations, the Director of the Independent Office of Evaluation of IFAD (IOE) and UNEG Vice Chair for Use of Evaluation, Oscar A. García, convened the session on "Quality Assurance beyond the checklist: how can we ensure the reports are evidence-based?".

As part of theme 2, Evaluation Principles, Fabrizio Felloni, Deputy Director of IOE, convened the session on "Evaluation and hindsight: assessing past interventions against yesterday’s standards or today’s wisdom (e.g. in light of new knowledge on climate change, gender, etc.)."

Michael Carbon, IOE Senior Evaluation Officer, convened the session on "Making the best use of Theories of Change in Evaluations", which was part of theme 3, Evaluation Methods.

Thus, the Professional Development Seminar and EPE components served as a learning platform for capacity building, reflection, reassessment and recommitment towards advancing the effectiveness, efficiency, impact and sustainability of the UN system’s work by promoting and strengthening evaluation.

On 10 and 11 May the Heads of the evaluation units of UNEG convened at their Annual General Meeting (AGM) to review progress and results of the work programme and to decide on strategies and work areas for the following year. The AGM provided an important business forum to review UNEG’s current work and discuss its upcoming strategies and work programmes.

Who attended: UNEG Heads, observers, staff members from UNEG member agencies, and invited partners; for business decisions, one vote per agency.

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