Cihan Sultanoğlu at the National Evaluation Capacity 2017 Conference: People, Planet, and Progress in the SDG Era

Oct 18, 2017

Excellencies, distinguished panellists, dear colleagues, ladies and gentlemen, 

On behalf of UNDP, it is my pleasure to welcome you to the National Evaluation Conference 2017 on “People, Planet, and Progress in the SDG Era”.

The sustainable development goals, and the global sustainable development Agenda 2030 that underpins them, are important for three key reasons: 

  • Aspirationally: they offer a global vision of economic growth that leaves no one behind while helping us live within our planetary boundaries. 
  • Technically: they offer an integrated, universal agenda for development policy coherence, supported by 169 quantitative, time-bound SDG targets and some 230 SDG indicators.
  • Partnerships: they represent a call to all development partners to work together to pursue a common sustainable development agenda.

The National Evaluation Conference 2017 provides an excellent—perhaps unprecedented—opportunity to bring these three directions together in critically important ways. This meeting has a global character: representatives and evaluation specialists from some 80 countries and territories, as well as from international development partners, are present. This broad representation underscores the importance of the aspirations underpinning the SDGs and Agenda 2030.

From a technical perspective, this meeting reflects the fact that national policy evaluation is central to national SDG implementation. Sustainable development requires the design and implementation of whole-of-government approaches to policies and programming that are holistic in nature and aligned with the SDGs. These policies and programming must be rigorously evaluated in order to assess and document the achievement of both outcomes and longer-term impact. Evaluation is needed to determine whether problems are correctly identified, whether intended effects are achieved, and whether unintended effects (both positive and negative) occur. Evaluation can also build policymakers’ knowledge of problems and potential remedies, and demonstrate government accountability to its citizens. 

If they are to inform policy implementation and outcomes, the global SDG targets and indicators need to be measurable. Many governments are now facing important questions about whether to use the SDG targets and indicators in their global form, or to adapt them to national specifics—and if so, how. They are facing important challenges of ensuring the data quality and availability—especially for the SDG indicators. Finding good answers to these questions is crucial in evaluating the policies, strategies, and programmes that are intimately tied to implementing the SDGs. To be “fit for purpose” for the SDGs, national M&E systems must include strong “monitoring”, as well as “evaluation” components.

The UN Development System is committed to helping governments (and other national partners) to put in place the institutional capacity to perform these critical M&E functions. This means supporting the development of the knowledge, institutions, and resources needed to design and operate effective M&E systems for policies, projects and programmes. It means strengthening evidence-based decision-making processes in both governments and civil society. It means capturing the knowledge generated from evaluation processes and sharing it across sectors and goals, to support more effective policies, projects and programmes—as well as more useful evaluations.

 

In UNDP, we plan to offer this support within the framework of both national and global SDG support platforms—as per our Strategic Plan for 2018-2021. These platforms can provide sustainable development solutions for diverse national contexts, helping countries pursue the development pathways of their choice, with the ultimate goal of achieving the SDGs. They could focus on such basic development priorities as poverty eradication, jobs and livelihoods, governance, and institutional capacity. Or they could focus on broader policy choices and synergies to accelerate progress in SDG implementation. Or they could focus on helping countries and communities deal with sudden or protracted shocks and crisis, due to man-made or natural causes.

In addition to its focus on the SDGs and Agenda 2030, this conference will explore progress since NEC 2015 in Bangkok, examining innovations and lessons learned in strengthening national evaluation policy frameworks and enabling environments. We will also continue the discussions initiated in Brazil in 2013 on the importance of independence, credibility, and use of evaluations to improve the effectiveness of public policy, programmes and service delivery. And we will emphasize the importance of multi-stakeholder approaches, including engagement with the private sector. We look forward to reflecting on new directions for evaluation in a rapidly changing world, in which bold and transformative steps are urgently needed to support national transitions to sustainable development.

The partnerships dimensions of Agenda 2030 can be seen in the participation and support of the many development partners who have made this meeting possible. In this spirit, I would in particular like to warmly thank the Government of Turkey—particularly the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and its Permanent Mission to UN for hosting us. I would also like to thank UNDP’s Independent Evaluation Office—and especially Director Indran Naidoo, and his team—for having the 5th Global Evaluation Conference in our region. I would like to thank the European Evaluation Society—and especially its President Ms. Riitta Oksanen, senior advisor on development evaluation in the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland—for co-organizing, co-designing, and co-sponsoring the event. Our warm gratitude also goes to the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Norway, and to the Astana Regional Hub for Civil Service from Kazakhstan, for their support for this conference. 

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