Turin, 28 October 2022 – “Major changes in our economies and societies need to be effectuated in record time. In order to succeed, these changes will need to be systemic, comprehensive and include voices, values and world views from a variety of cultural and ethnic backgrounds. The focus must be on climate justice, just transition, and the full range of the Sustainable Development Goals”. Indran A. Naidoo, Director of the Independent Office of Evaluation of IFAD (IOE), delivered this unequivocal call to action on the global stage of the 7th National Evaluation Capacity (NEC) conference, in Turin, Italy.
Organized by the UNDP Independent Evaluation Office (IEO) and the Global Evaluation Initiative (GEI), from 25-28 October 2022, the NEC conference reflected upon ‘Resilient National Evaluation Systems for Sustainable Development’ following the upheaval and socio-economic fragility brought by the global pandemic. The event built on the success of past conferences and brought together over 300 influential evaluation stakeholders and actors from over 100 countries, spanning oversight and accountability sectors across Government, civil society, academia, the United Nations, as well as bilateral and multilateral partners.
“NEC 2022 comes at a time when resilient government systems are all the more important to mitigate crisis, like the one the world is still emerging from. The conference draws on the formidable capacity of the GEI global network, offering more support to governments in their important work of delivering better results to citizens”, noted Dr. Naidoo in his remarks during the opening session of the event.
IOE supported the event with other donors, and played an active role in the conference by participating in various sessions. Dr. Naidoo was joined by Fabrizio Felloni, IOE Deputy Director, and Dr. Mònica Lomeña-Gelis, IOE Senior Evaluation Officer, who each moderated a session stream discussion. In addition, the IOE Director also acted as a panellist during a plenary session that brought together the heads of the UN evaluation offices of the Rome-based agencies.
Moving from the premise that evaluation must consider development impacts across all programmes, Dr. Naidoo joined Andrea Cook, Director of Evaluation at WFP; Olivier Cossée, senior evaluation officer the FAO Office of Evaluation; Dr. Anastasia Aladysheva, Impact Evaluation Specialist, Green Climate Fund; and Bala Yusuf-Yunusa, Office of the Senior Special Assistant to the President of Nigeria on SDGs, to discuss the transformative role of the evaluation function, on the second day of the conference. Moderated by Alan Fox, UNDP IEO Deputy Director, the plenary panel discussion recognized that transformational change is required to avoid further catastrophes caused by the three environmental crises that human actions have caused, namely the climate crisis, nature crisis, and pollution and waste crisis. Participants agreed that evaluation can contribute to finding durable solutions based on sound science and experiences from the field, but that in order to do so it must broaden its vision.
“From a rural-based perspective, the transformative change that we are looking for is the shift in governments’ and international agencies’ paradigm of agricultural interventions, moving from an anthropocentric approach to one which is more environmentally-focused”, explained Dr. Naidoo in his intervention.
Whether evaluation is innovative and nimble enough for a rapidly changing world, and how evaluation can foster a systems-thinking approach to bring about transformative change were the questions at the centre of debate during the parallel session in which the IOE Director acted as moderator and presenter. Titled ‘Evaluating beyond the 2030 Agenda’, the session drew from the experiences of Dugan Fraser, Coordinator GEI, and Dr. Mita Marra, Associate Professor and Editor-in-Chief, Evaluation and Program Planning, University of Naples and the George Washington University. Mr. Fraser presented the experiences of gender-based and feminist evaluation, while Professor Marra highlighted the importance and value added of adopting multiple evaluation methods.
“There has been a tendency to view development through a silo approach, not considering that there are multiple pillars and multiple elements that interact. Today, we need to understand all elements of development. For this to happen, we need to look at evaluation not just in terms of describing what happens, but also in terms of how it can be transformative”, Dr. Naidoo underscored.
On the afternoon of the second day of the conference, Fabrizio Felloni, IOE Deputy Director, acted as moderator during the parallel session titled ‘What can we learn from Sectoral Evaluation systems?’. Recognizing that certain sectors – notably health, education and agriculture – have advanced further in building evaluation systems than cross-sector systems, the session discussed what could be learned from these approaches. The session drew on the experiences of Orifjan Namozov, Deputy Director for Strategic Planning, Programming and Analysis, Ministry of Agriculture of Uzbekistan; Sanjeev Sridharan, Country Lead, Learning Systems and Systems Evaluation at the India Country Office of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation; Dr. Anastasia Aladysheva, Impact Evaluation Specialist, Green Climate Fund; and Alok Mishra, Director General, Ministry of Commerce & Industry, Government of India.
On the third day of the conference, Dr. Mònica Lomeña-Gelis, IOE Senior Evaluation Officer co-moderated the parallel session titled ‘Innovative M&E systems’, alongside Renata Mirulla, EvalForward Facilitator. The session discussed opportunities for innovation in monitoring and evaluation to better respond to the needs of decision-makers, with a focus on agriculture. The session was enriched by contributions from Rodrigue Siangoye Owoumbou, Responsable Planification et Suivi-Evaluation du Projet de Développement Agricole et Rurale, Ministry of Agriculture, Gabon; Mor Seck, Permanent Secretary, Commission for the Evaluation and Monitoring of Public Policies and Programs), Presidency of the Republic of Senegal; Konaté Sekou Tidiani, Director of Coordination, Cooperation and Planning of the National Institute of Statistics, Djibouti; and N’DIA Youssouf, Directeur du Contrôle, du Suivi et de l’Evaluation, Ministère du Plan et du Développement, Côte d’Ivoire.
The UNDP IEO organized the first NEC conference over a decade ago, in 2009 in Casablanca, Morocco, with 55 participants. The conference was a success as it was able to draw unprecedented country and government support. This led to participants calling for follow-up events, and thus IEO launched a series of biennial NEC conferences. During his eight-year tenure as Director of IEO, Dr. Naidoo, developed and expanded the NEC series to become the largest constellation of thought leadership and training session globally by government participation, reaching 180 countries. The sixth and latest conference in the series was held in Hurghada, Egypt, in 2019, four years after the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), with more than 500 participants [here].
To date, the NEC conferences have countries and their governments globally, bringing together influential players from oversight and accountability sectors to connect, engage and share about issues that fall within the ethos of good governance, evidence-based decision making and better performance management [here].
For further information, please contact Alexander Voccia [here]
- To access NEC 2022 on-line resources, recordings and multimedia, please click here.
- To access the proceedings of the NEC 2019, please click here and here.
- For more information on evaluation and transformational change, please click here, here, here and here.
- For more information on the role of evaluation in holistically assessing environmental impacts of human action, please click here, here and here.
- For more information on innovation in M&E, please click here, here and here.