Welcome address by ADB Director-General Marvin Taylor-Dormond at the 2nd Asia-Pacific Evaluation Association International Evaluation Conference on 27 February 2019 at ADB headquarters in Manila, Philippines
Dr. Romeo Santos, President, APEA, colleagues, partners and friends in evaluation.
Good morning everyone!
Welcome to ADB!
For over two decades, I have been working on evaluation, fighting for and over evaluation, and dreaming on evaluation. I have done this at the highest levels in multilateral development banks, including the World Bank, IFC, MIGA, CABEI and ADB. And there has not been a single day in which I have regretted this long-term professional dedication to our discipline. In fact, there has not been a single day that I have not given thanks to the providence for the opportunity to contribute through evaluation to the improvement of the effectiveness of our organizations and through this, to the improvement of people’s lives.
Every time that I go to the Boards of these organizations with my team, to present and discuss our finding, I feel rewarded by the discussion, no matter how controversial, and I realize or confirm my realization of the great contribution that our profession can make. I would constantly wonder and reflect, what would happen if our independent assessment would not have been produced? How could our institutions objectively find out what is working or not? How could these frank discussions take place in the absence of our objective assessments as independent evaluators?
Requirements for success
In retrospect, experience has taught me that success in our job requires: 1) appropriate context; 2) quality and rigor of our work; and 3) acknowledgement of the scope and limitation of our contribution to development effectiveness.
By appropriate context, I mean that organizations must be willing to learn, accept failure and be inspired by a strong tone at the top on the role of evaluation as an instrument of both accountability and learning.
By quality and rigor of our work, I mean upholding the principles of independent thinking and objectivity, thoroughness in documentation and robustness of methodologies.
By acknowledging the scope and limitations of our work, I mean to be aware of the complexity of the decision-making process, to have empathy with the difficulties of implementation and to understand the political context and implications of our evaluation work. Mindful of these dynamics and making sure that such complexities are embedded in our evaluation work can strategically place us to be more influential.
SDGs and evaluation
Precisely, the Sustainable Development Goals offers a golden opportunity for us evaluators to step-up our efforts to strengthen our discipline, to sharpen our skills and to increase our influence. Likewise, the SDGs have opened up an important window of opportunity for collaboration among policymakers, program managers, and evaluators, to work together towards the achievement of the 17 SDGs.
We evaluators can certainly play a role in the pursuit of these aspirations. As Osborne and Gaebler have said, “What gets measured gets done. If you don’t measure results, you can’t tell success from failure.” The SDGs reinforces the role of evaluation in the process of transparency, learning and accountability at the institutional, national and global scale.
In this spirit, I celebrate the theme of this conference, “Reducing Poverty, Ensuring Peace”. Gandhi once said, “Poverty is the worst form of violence.” There can be no peace without ending poverty and injustice, without promoting prosperity for all, a goal central to the mission of ADB.
And so, I welcome you to these magnificent facilities of the ADB headquarters here in the Philippines, home of wonderful, friendly and warm people.
And I trust that this event will help us advance our knowledge, stimulate the exchange of ideas and experiences, and reinforce our commitment to continue using our unique evaluation discipline in support of lasting justice, peace and prosperity in Asia and the Pacific.
Thank you very much!