Organized as part of the online bi-annual conference of the EES ‘Evaluation in an Uncertain World: Complexity, Legitimacy and Ethics’, the roundtable saw the active participation of Johannes Dobinger, Chief of UNIDO’s Independent Evaluation Division, Thuy Thu Le, Evaluation Officer, UNIDO, and Luisa Belli, who is currently leading the Evaluation Office of FAO’s Contribution to SDG13 on Climate Action.
During the session, entitled ‘Evaluating the Support to Value Chain Development for Poverty Reduction. Upgrading our Conceptual Framework and Toolbox’, Felloni and the group of esteemed colleagues focused on the notion of governance of a value chain and discussed how this can be addressed in an evaluation, in addition to examining the implications for (re)constructing a theory of change for programmes supporting value chains. Discussions built on the approaches and tools adopted by IFAD, FAO and UNIDO to evaluate these programmes. The roundtable also featured opportunities for two-way interactions with the audience. Special topics for debate included the application to evaluations of key concepts for gender-sensitive value chain development, and the positioning of evaluation at the intersection between value chain development and climate change.
Discussions moved from the premise that value chain approaches have gained traction in the past fifteen years with governments and donor partners. As a result, the number of development programmes supporting agriculture-related value chains has increased and the number of evaluations of these programmes is projected to grow accordingly.
The roundtable was framed within the context of the second theme of the ESS bi-annual conference, ‘Adapting the toolbox: Methodological challenges’, which allowed presenters to discuss an interesting way of using well-known tools to address uncertainty or suggest new tools, and draw the link between tools and challenges, identify main problems of using specific tools, and examine how these can be resolved. The other themes of this year’s conference were ‘The Anthropocene and its complex problems: The role of Evaluation’, ‘Propelling and provoking the agenda: The role and responsibility of evaluators’, and ‘Greasing the wheels of evaluation: the role of evaluators, evaluation commissioners and evaluators funders (donors) in ensuring that knowledge changes practice’.