This IIED Briefing paper argues that, in order to be maximally useful to policymakers and citizens, the follow-up and review processes of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development must incorporate rigorous, country led evaluations that examine policy and programme implementation and effectiveness, and build well-reasoned and supported cases for claims of progress. While there is considerable focus on how to measure progress using indicators, the paper argues that evaluation must go beyond measurement, to consider whether progress is equitable, relevant and sustainable. This paper is the first in a series of briefings discussing the role of evaluation in achieving the SDGs. Read the second paper here: Counting critically: SDG ‘follow-up and review’ needs interlinked indicators, monitoring and evaluation
Authors and their affiliation
- Thomas Schwandt is a professor at University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, USA and an editor emeritus of the American Journal of Evaluation.
- Dorothy Lucks is co-chair of EVALSDGs, IOCE board secretary, an EvalPartners executive committee member and the executive director of SDF Global.
- Zenda Ofir is the President of the International Centre for Evaluation and Development (ICED), a former president of the African Evaluation Association (AfrEA) and an honorary professor at Stellenbosch University in South Africa.
- Stefano D’Errico is the monitoring evaluation and learning lead at IIED and a council member of the United Kingdom Evaluation Society (UKES).
- Kassem El-Saddik is vice-chair of EVALSDGs and a member of the Evaluators Middle East and North Africa network (EvalMENA).
Year of publication
Type of resource
The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development calls for follow-up and review processes that examine progress toward achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Such processes are needed at international and regional levels, but especially at the national level. To be maximally useful to policymakers and citizens, review processes must incorporate rigorous, country led evaluations that examine policy and programme implementation and effectiveness, and build well-reasoned and supported cases for claims of progress. At present, there is considerable focus on how to measure progress using indicators, but evaluation must go beyond measurement, to consider whether progress is equitable, relevant and sustainable. Such evidence will help demonstrate public sector accountability and accelerate change by focusing attention on enhancing learning and innovation.
Abridged key messages are that:
- Measurement is not enough
- Evaluation addresses the complexity of the SDGs and their achievement
- Evaluative thinking is indispensable for informed choices
- National policy evaluation is essential
- Evaluation builds solid evidence for claims
- Building capacity for evaluation is crucial
Who is this resource useful for?
- Advocates for evaluation;
- Commissioners/managers of evaluation;
- Evaluation users;
- Other – policy makers involved in national review processes of the SDGs; practitioners of civil society organisations
How have you used or intend on using this resource?
This briefing defines ‘evaluation’ and provides an overview of considerations for effective follow-up and review.
Why would you recommend it to other people?
Because it makes a clear case for the use of evaluation in follow-up and review processes of the SDGs, especially at the national and sub-national levels.
Schwandt, T., Ofir, Z., Lucks, D., El-Saddick, K. and D’Errico, S. (2016). Counting critically: SDG ‘follow-up and review’ needs interlinked indicators, monitoring and evaluation. IIED Briefing, July 2016. IIED.