Five considerations for national evaluation agendas informed by the SDGs

The following is taken from EVALSDGs‘ briefing paper, Five considerations for national evaluation agendas informed by the SDGs17374iied


Each country sets its own national agenda and strategy within the broad contours of the 2030 Agenda and its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), yet the Agenda gives little explicit guidance on how to do this. However, there is a perspective on development that offers direction. This perspective views development through a ‘complex systems’ lens. It is consistent with the 2030 Agenda because it considers development as a holistic, integrated, multifaceted and context-sensitive process that has diverse means and ends, and is intimately tied to sustainability. This briefing summarises five aspects of this perspective that emerged as important lessons for evaluation during the Millennium Development Goals era, and discusses their implications for national evaluation agendas that support countries’ achievement of the SDGs. It is the third in a collection of briefings discussing the role of evaluation in achieving the SDGs.

Policy pointers

National evaluation systems need to be grounded in a philosophy and practice of evaluation that is consistent with the Sustainable Development Goals’ interconnected nature.

Taking a ‘complex systems’ perspective on development is particularly useful for attending to this interrelated nature.

Lessons from the Millennium Development Goal era show that taking this perspective early on will enhance national evaluation systems as well as development results.

Five considerations can help resource-constrained countries to set national evaluation agendas and maximise the value of evaluation: thinking beyond single policies, programmes and projects; examining macro forces influencing success or failure; having a nuanced understanding of ‘success’; recognising the importance of culture; and adopting evaluative thinking and adaptive management.

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