The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and the Importance of Evaluation
On 25 September 2015, Member States of the United Nations (UN) adopted 'Transforming our World: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development,' and with it 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is intended as "a plan of action for people, planet and prosperity that seeks to strengthen universal peace in larger freedom" and calls for ambitious, universal and transformative action over the next fifteen years, focusing on the shared planet, its people, and their prosperity, peace and partnership. In contrast to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), Evaluation has been fully integrated into this Agenda as part of the review process.
The SDGs entail a review mechanism that will be "rigorous and based on evidence, informed by country-led evaluations and data which is high-quality, accessible, timely, reliable and disaggregated by income, sex, age, race, ethnicity, migration status, disability and geographic location and other characteristics relevant in national contexts".
This is also evident from the key note of the UN Secretary-General Mr. Ban Ki-moon: "Evaluation everywhere, and at every level, will play a key role in implementing the new development agenda" (United Nations Evaluation Group (UNEG) High-level Panel Event, 9 March 2015). Furthermore, those review mechanisms will require enhanced capacity-building support for developing countries, including the strengthening of national data systems and evaluation programs.
Mr. Ban Ki-moon summarised: " Evaluation is not easy. Nor is it popular. But it is essential. The current constrained budgetary climate makes it more important than ever. All of us share a responsibility to strengthen this important function. I look forward to working with all of you to strengthen evaluation capacity so that it can play its rightful role in building lives of dignity for all." (UNEG High-level Panel Event, 9 March 2015).
High-level Panel Discussion in Vienna, 2015
In this regard, also the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) Independent Evaluation Section (IES) participated already in 2015 in shaping the global evaluation agenda in relation to the SDGs. In cooperation with the Evaluation Functions of the Vienna-based International Organisations, a high-level panel discussion on "The Use of Evaluation in Evidence-Based Policy Making - Accountability and Learning: Getting to Results and Impact" focused on how to bridge the gap between the policy makers and the evaluation community and how to ensure the use of the highest quality, equity-focused and gender-responsive evaluations.
UNODC's Executive Director, Mr. Yury Fedotov concluded this event with the following words: "By increasing transparency, and enhancing learning and critical thinking, evaluation can empower people, and in this way support positive change. (…) In short, evaluation can help us to provide clarity in a complex, inter-connected world."
Human Rights and Gender in Evaluating the SDGs
Human rights principles and standards are now strongly reflected in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The SDGs are the result of the most consultative and inclusive process in the history of the UN. Grounded in international human rights law, the agenda offers critical opportunities to further advance the realization of human rights for all people everywhere, without discrimination. Human rights, social justice and gender equality approaches are as well at the forefront of the Global Evaluation Agenda. Evaluation has a critical role to play in assessing these dimensions and showing what works and why.
In concrete terms, IES has fully revised its Evaluation norms and standards to ensure that universally recognized values and principles of human rights and gender equality are integrated into all stages of each evaluation. It is the responsibility of evaluators as well as evaluation managers to ensure that these values are respected, addressed and promoted.
Moreover, IES has mainstreamed the assessment of UNODC's contribution to achieving the SDGs as well as human rights and gender into the whole evaluation cycle - starting from the ToR with a gender sensitive methodology when conducting an evaluation up to identifying recommendations, lessons learned and best practices in relation to human rights, gender and the SDGs.
Further details (please click):
OHCHR: Human Rights and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/MDG/Pages/The2030Agenda.aspx
UNWOMEN: Why gender-responsive evaluation matters for the SDGs: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iW08qXAZn-E&feature=youtu.be