IDEAS, as the only global professional association for development evaluators, has in recent years mobilised evaluation thinkers and practitioners throughout the world on evaluation of sustainable development. Global Assemblies of IDEAS tend to take place over two-and-a-half to three days and typically include keynote addresses, several high-level “special sessions” that are semi-plenary in nature, and five or six parallel sessions of presentations, panels, conversations and other innovative forms of interaction. Proposals for presentations, panels and other forms of interaction are invited through the conference website and are reviewed by volunteers.
Taken from the United Nations Evaluation Group (UNEG) website:
Agenda 2030, adopted by the member states of the United Nations in September 2015, calls for new partnerships to work towards a sustainable and equitable future for humanity on our planet. It radically redefines development and asks for transformative change of our societies, our economies and how we interact with nature and our habitat. This is seen as key in the Paris Climate Agreement and the follow-up meetings on climate action. Each country needs to identify its own transformation priorities. In the Global South this has been taken up by many countries. Mexico, Colombia, Argentina, Chile, South Africa, Uganda, Benin, Sri Lanka, Malaysia and many others aim to inform their efforts for transformative change through monitoring, statistics, and evaluation. In contrast many countries of the Global North tend to be relatively complacent concerning the SDGs and leave reporting on progress to National Bureaus of Statistics. While many evaluations tend to take place on domestic issues in countries of the Global North, there is no concerted effort like some countries in the Global South show.
It is time the Global North becomes inspired by what is happening in the Global South. IDEAS has convened its Global Assemblies in the Global South since its inception in 2002 in Beijing. It held conferences in Delhi, Johannesburg, Amman, Barbados, Bangkok and Guanajuato, Mexico. It is time it would bring the richness of experiences and visions on transformative change of the Global South to the Global North and extend the South to South Exchange mechanism to the North and to countries in transition, which it is uniquely placed to do as global professional association.
The focus of this exchange would be the challenges and solutions for evaluation as a profession to contribute to our understanding of transformative change. Do we have the right evaluation approaches? Does the skill set and competencies that IDEAS has identified for evaluation professionals in 2014 need to be adapted? Is our ethical guidance fit for purpose for the Sustainable Development Goals? Do we develop the right capacity for evaluating transformative change?
Furthermore, the 2019 Global Assembly aims to establish a platform for various transformative initiatives to come together and work on establishing best practices and the way forward. IDEAS should reach out to and invite the Transformative Change Learning Partnership hosted by the Climate Investment Funds, to the Working Group on Transformational Evaluation for Transformational Development of the Transformations Forum, the Earth-Eval community of Practice and their effort to organise a third international conference on evaluating climate change and development and the South-to-South Exchange initiative, amongst others.
The products the Global Assembly should aim for should be a mix of M&E systems experiences, best practices in evaluating transformative change, recognizing political aspirations and professional inspiration and inviting the North to learn from the South. It would tie into ongoing initiatives and provide them with a forum of international evaluators to support them in bringing forward their work, like the envisaged update of the DAC/OECD evaluation criteria, the South to South Exchange Initiative, the further development of competencies and credentialing leading to new capacity empowerment initiatives, ethical guidance that takes global and indigenous experiences into account, and so on.
Lastly, we need to discuss whether we can end the paradigm wars regarding impact or shift them in a direction which would be productive. Transformative change calls for multi-disciplinary evaluation paradigms, tools and methods, with a healthy infusion from natural sciences, geography, climate change, ecosystems, social entrepreneurship, behavioural economics and so on. What can we learn from the practice of these new approaches in the Global South?
IDEAS, as the only global professional association for development evaluators, has in recent years mobilised evaluation thinkers and practitioners throughout the world on evaluation of sustainable development (in the 2015 Global Assembly in Bangkok) and on evaluation for Agenda 2030 (in the 2017 Global Assembly in Guanajuato, Mexico). The Bangkok conference has led to the publication of a follow-up book, “Evaluation for Agenda 2030” (https://ideas-global.org/evaluation-for-agenda-2030/) which was launched at the Guanajuato conference. Thematic groups of IDEAS are working on specific themes that can become streams in the conference: gender and equity, fragile states, marginalization and conflict situations, adaptation and mitigation of climate change, amongst others. Furthermore, IDEAS has developed global agreements in the evaluation profession on ethics, competencies and need for capacity development and empowerment.