From Paris “Declaration on Aid effectiveness”
to Busan “Partnership for effective development cooperation”
The Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness endorsed in 2005, and the Accra follow-up meeting, state that national ownership and leadership are overarching factors for ensuring good development outcomes. The implication for the evaluation function is fundamental. The principle of ownership means that partner countries should own and lead their own country-led evaluation systems, while donors and international organizations should support sustainable national evaluation capacity development. The recent Busan High-level forum re-affirmed the above principles, while recognizing that the international development arena has changed significantly. As a result, new modalities such as South/South and triangular cooperation 1, and new stakeholders such as Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), have been explicitly recognized in the Busan’s Declaration on “Partnership for effective development cooperation”.
United Nations, UNICEF and National ownership and leadership in evaluation
The Busan’s principles are also supported by the United Nations. The UN General Assembly has requested “the UN system to pursue and intensify its efforts to strengthen evaluation capacities in programme countries”, “taking into account national conditions and ensuring respect for national ownership, strategies and sovereignty”.
UNICEF has been involved in national evaluation capacity development for many years, as national ownership and leadership are guiding principles informing UNICEF Evaluation Policy. UNICEF Executive Board is constantly requiring UNICEF to support evaluation capacity, including by strengthening CSOs’ capacities. As a result, UNICEF has been supporting national evaluation capacities in 129 countries. It does so in partnership with key stakeholders, notably partners such as governments, Voluntary Organizations of Professional Evaluators (VOPEs)2 and UN Country Teams. At global level, UNICEF has been co-chairing the UNEG Task Force on National Evaluation Capacity since its creation three years ago.
The role of Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) in National Evaluation Systems
In the last decades, members of both civil society and the private sector have been playing increasingly central and active roles in promoting greater accountability for public actions through evaluation. National and regional Voluntary Organizations of Professional Evaluators (VOPE) grew from 15 in the 1990s to more than 135 nowadays.3 The International Organization for Cooperation in Evaluation (IOCE), the association that identifies, links and supports VOPEs all over the world, was established in 2003 with the mandate to contribute to building evaluation leadership and capacity, especially in developing countries, foster the cross-fertilization of evaluation theory and practice around the world, address international challenges in evaluation, and assist the evaluation profession to take a more global approach to contributing to the identification and solution of world problems.
Along the lines of the recent Busan’s Partnership, CSOs can and should play a central role in advocating for transparency in the allocation and expenditure of public budget; accountability for the implementation of public policies; strengthening the demand for the use of evaluation to inform evidence-based policy making, and the capacities of qualified evaluators to produce credible and useful evaluations based on national and international evaluation standards.
An initiative to strengthen Country-led Evaluation Systems through wider partnership and use of innovation
The numbers of VOPEs are rapidly growing across countries.4 There is tremendous scope for exchanges of home-grown and country-driven solutions, ideas and experience to support capacity development in evaluation. In this context, EvalPartners aims to strengthen the evaluation capacities of CSOs through triangular cooperation and peer to peer support and mutual learning, and by taking advantage of new ICT technology to facilitate networking and learning.