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The vital role that evaluation plays in the success of interventions is becoming increasingly apparent. The  United Nations Secretary-General, António Guterres, has stressed that to be fully accountable, "we need a culture of evaluation, independent and real-time evaluation with full transparency" [1]. The former Secretary-General, Ban Ki-Moon, was also a strong advocate recognising that, "evaluation is (...) critical for promoting accountability and for understanding what we are doing right and what we may be getting wrong" [2].

Moreover, evaluation is at the heart of the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda which highlights that the follow-up and review processes for the development goals will be informed by country-led evaluations and by data that is accessible, timely, reliable and of high quality.

The figure below shows the four key purposes that emerge from evaluation processes with decision-making being a common factor throughout. In some cases, evaluations become development interventions in themselves. Evaluations can create the space for participants to reflect on an intervention, whether individually or in groups, which may inspire new ideas and energy that lead to change such as new partnerships or new initiatives. Thus, evaluation as an agent of change is often an intervention in itself.

Source: UNODC Evaluation Handbook (p. 9)


Ultimately, the information obtained through evaluation and the processes for gathering it serve four main purposes: accountability, organizational learning, knowledge generation, and opportunities for dialogue. Evaluation enables these as follows:

Accountability: By assessing compliance with established conventions, treaties, norms, policies and plans. Accountability is achieved through independently conducted evaluations that accurately and fairly report on performance results to UNODC at large, Member States and other stakeholders.

Organizational learning: By measuring the extent to which intended and unintended results are or are not achieved and their differentiated impact on stakeholders, giving attention to gender, age, social status and origin among other variables. Evaluation deals with answering difficult questions, such as whether the organisation is doing the right things and whether it is doing things right. In this sense, evaluation is an important source of evidence about what works, what does not and why. Through the timely incorporation of recommendations and lessons learned into decision-making processes, evaluation aims at making programming and UNODC at large more effective and efficient.

Knowledge generation: By producing substantive knowledge about the specific topics that are part of an organisation's mandate, and about innovative practices. This knowledge is generally found in the recommendations and lessons learned contained in evaluation reports. Such information is compiled from multiple evaluations and then synthesized and shared by the UNODC evaluation function for the benefit of UNODC's stakeholders as well as the United Nations organisations at large and its member states.

Opportunities for dialogue: By providing a useful platform for stakeholders to come together to discuss the subject of the evaluation and other areas of common interest. Inclusive evaluation processes help to build relationships and ensure a better understanding of different participants' and other stakeholders' needs and interests, as well as opportunities for further collaboration.


[2] United Nations Evaluation Group High-level event: "Bridge to a Better World: Evaluation at the Service of the Post-2015 Agenda", New York, 9 March 2015.