Making Evaluation Work at the Country Level – Marvin Taylor-Dormond | Asian Development Bank

Making Evaluation Work at the Country Level – Marvin Taylor-Dormond

Speech | 10 September 2018

Opening Message by  Marvin Taylor-Dormond, Director-General, Independent Evaluation Department, Asian Development Bank, during the 2018 Asian Evaluation Week, 10-14 September 2018, in Chengdu, People’s Republic of China

Distinguished officials from the Ministry of Finance and Sichuan Provincial Government, People’s Republic of China.

Mr. Hao Lei, Deputy Director General of the Budget Department, Ministry of Finance of the People’s Republic of China.

Ms. Lu Jun, Deputy Director General of the Sichuan Provincial Department of Finance.

Dr. Li Kouqing, President of the Asia-Pacific Finance and Development Institute and Shanghai National Accounting Institute.

Our evaluation friends and colleagues from international organizations and partners in governments and civil society.

A very good morning to you all!

Introduction

On behalf of the Asian Development Bank, I welcome you to the 3rd Asian Evaluation Week. It is a great privilege to address an audience of your stature, who are at the forefront of development initiatives - nationally, regionally, and globally. The theme for AEW this year, “Making evaluation work at the country-level”, comes at an opportune time when countries across the globe have committed to working hard towards achieving the SDGs by 2030. And by the same token, success in this endeavor will ultimately be measured at the country-level.

When the Ministry of Finance of PRC, AFDI and ADB came up with the idea of an Evaluation Week for Asia and the Pacific years ago, we planned it to become the leading evaluation knowledge sharing platform for the region. We envisaged it as a congregation of evaluation experts from around the world, bringing together governments, international organizations, academics and private sector practitioners to exchange on knowledge, state of the art evaluation methods and experience to further contribute and support development and policymaking in the region. After two highly successful editions and looking at all of you here today for this third edition, I am proud to report that we are clearly on track. The audience present today - over 200 government officials, development practitioners and evaluators from 50 countries, and the theme that we have chosen are a testament of progress made in only three years and a confirmation that our vision was and continues to be right.

Why is country-level evaluation important?

First, this is the 21st century, decision-making processes are expected to be founded on sound evidence. In fact, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development recognizes the criticality of evaluation for realizing the 17 goals at the country level. Country-led evaluations can help us examine policy and program effectiveness, and provide evidence to policy-makers and development practitioners. Country-level evaluations can help us increase the stock of knowledge to accelerate change and achieve the SDGs.

Second, country resources are scarce and it is the duty of governments to use them effectively. Evaluation evidence can assist in guiding governments to optimally allocate these scarce resources to where development impact is greatest. Evaluation can also enrich the design and implementation of interventions to increase the potential of development effectiveness. Evaluation highlights good policies and programs that should be continued; and bad policies and programs that should be abandoned or corrected to perform better. 

Third, in this information age, citizen expectations are higher than ever. Citizens in both donor and recipient countries are more than ever holding their governments accountable to delivering results and impact. Governments are demanded to explain success and failures in the spirit of transparency and good governance.

The challenge of building country evaluation systems

Now while country-level evaluations are important, the truth is that developing such systems will not occur spontaneously. This will require a collective, concerted and deliberate effort from all of us – government, international organizations, academia, private sector and civil society. All of us today are players representing these perspectives.

And so,

  1. For government leaders: Let us call on them to encourage, support and create an environment for the establishment of effective country evaluation systems.
  2. For multilateral and other development organizations: Let us expect from them to foster evaluation knowledge and ensure capacity development for countries.
  3. For the academia: Let us trust that they support us by enlightening the road ahead through creative and innovative evaluation methods and approaches.
  4. For private sector practitioners: Let them sharpen their skills, benefit from evaluation knowledge and be ready to provide effective services.
  5. For civil society and the public in general: Let them be vigilant in exercising their right to better delivery of services by governments and international organizations so that these strengthen the need for country evaluation systems.

There is hope in this endeavor. The case of PRC that will be featured at this conference is a good example of the determination of leaders to introduce discipline in the use of resources and enhance accountability by establishing a performance-based management system, underpinned by evaluation.

In sum, let us do as Confucius has advised in his words: “To put the world in order, we must first put the nation in order; to put the nation in order, we must first put the family in order; to put the family in order; we must first cultivate our personal life; we must first set our hearts right.” And so, let us set our hearts right by declaring country evaluation systems and performance management systems as one of the cornerstones needed to put the nation in order.

Conclusion

Let me close by thanking Dr. Li and AFDI for their support in ensuring that this event is successful.  I also thank the Ministry of Finance of PRC for its enthusiastic support to this initiative, and our partner organizations and governments for their contribution to the rich agenda of the event, and for sharing their knowledge. Let me extend our gratitude to the People’s Government of Sichuan Province for closely working with us and offering us a wonderful and beautiful place for this event. I extend my thanks to all of you who have taken your time to share your expertise during this event. Finally, I deeply acknowledge the hard work of the Secretariat led by Ms. Farzana Ahmed and Dr. Zhao Min for making this AEW happen.

Thank you all and wish you a fruitful week ahead.

Xiè xie (thank you)

Fēicháng gǎnxiè nǐ