CECAN Seminar - How evaluation in the SDG era can mislead, and what to do about it
Tuesday 27th February 2018, 12:45 - 14:00 - BEIS, 1 Victoria Street, London, SW1H 0ET
About the seminar:
Professionals in evaluation pay a lot of attention to how to evaluate. We are less thoughtful about exactly what to evaluate, and why. Stakeholders’ interests and questions tend to determine what will be useful to focus on at a particular point in time. Or we use a predetermined set of criteria, usually the so-called DAC criteria - relevance, efficiency, effectiveness, impact and sustainability - to direct and focus evaluations. Yet this widely accepted practice can prompt us to neglect important issues that should be on our agenda if we are serious about the role of evaluation in supporting sustainable development, and understanding whether we are on track to achieve the SDGs. Failure to focus our evaluations appropriately can lull us into dangerous complacency about accomplishment and success.
One of the benefits of the 2030 Agenda has been the growing awareness that we should view sustainable development through a complex systems lens - both when we plan or execute, and evaluate. Evaluating from this perspective has implications far beyond just focusing on being more experimenting, agile and adaptive. The need to be more thoughtful about what to evaluate is even more pronounced during an era where the SDGs as holistic framework for national, regional and global development, together with the emerging notion of a more humane economy, intersect with the Fourth Industrial Revolution, the digital and knowledge economies, and macro influences such as climate change, geopolitical tensions and diffuse global value chains.
The presentation will use examples to examine how we can be misled if we fail to evaluate the quality of plans, actions and results from a complex systems perspective. It will consider the interactions between goals (such as the SDGs), or interventions, or activities; the linkages between impact and sustainability; the significance of what is being (or has been) done to release the energy of society; and the importance of linking results-based management and adaptive management (rather than to ignore one or the other). It will reflect on what can be learned in this regard from countries such as Japan and China, and from indigenous people’s framing of evaluations. It will conclude by noting the value as well as current limitations of evaluation from this perspective.
About the speaker:
Zenda Ofir is a South African scientist and independent evaluator. With a PhD in (Ecological) Chemisty, she has held senior management positions in a South African national science council and at the University of Pretoria before turning to evaluation in 2000. She has conducted national, multi-country and global level evaluation assignments of many evaluands in many domains across the world, with a special focus on Africa and Asia. She has worked for multilateral, bilateral and government agencies, foundations, INGOs, universities and science councils, and has advised multiple organizations on evaluation or knowledge management policy, strategy and practice, including UNDP, CGIAR, GAVI, IUCN, WHO-TDR, AGRA, CLEAR-AA and the Rockefeller Foundation.
Zenda is a former African Evaluation Association (AfrEA) President, former International Organisation for Cooperation in Evaluation (IOCE) Vice-President and former American Evaluation Association (AEA) Board member. She serves on the EvalPartners/EvalSDG reference panel on the Sustainable Development Goals, is an instructor in the UNITAR/CEC-NY Executive Leadership Programme in Evaluation for the SDGs (ELPE), and managed for several years the module on Development Effectiveness for the International Cooperation course of the United Nations University (UNU) in Tokyo. She serves on the editorial boards of two evaluation journals and since 2014 has the title of Honorary Professor at the School for Public Leadership at Stellenbosch University, South Africa. Zenda is currently based near Geneva in Switzerland.
**Please bring your own refreshments and arrive for 12.45 reception along with photo ID.**