Rome, IFAD Headquarters, November 17-18 2015. On 17 and 18 November 2015, the evaluation offices of four food and agriculture Rome-based agencies - the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), the World Food Programme (WFP) and CGIAR - hosted a technical seminar to consider the evaluability of the Sustainable Development Goal 2 (SDG2), to end hunger, achieve food security and nutrition, and promote sustainable agriculture for millions of people. More than 160 participants from diverse technical and organizational backgrounds – representing 38 countries – including evaluators, academics and representatives of national governments, United Nations agencies and multinational development, research and donor agencies attended the seminar. The seminar was also attended virtually by over 1,000 people and generated a substantive social media stream.

The main discussions took place in parallel round-table groups under four themes: (i) the relevance of new metrics for the evaluation of SDG2, data revolution and innovative approaches; (ii) partnerships and development actors, dealing with the increasing complexity of development processes; (iii) national monitoring and evaluation systems and data availability; and (iv) demand for and use of evidence from evaluation: understanding the political economy of evidence and developing a joint evaluation agenda for SDG2.

The seminar concluded that the Rome-based agencies can play a critical role to enhance ownership of the targets set in SDG2 and improve the credibility of in-country data. There is a significant opportunity to re-invigorate measurement of nutrition and food security, by proposing innovative dimensions and going beyond the traditional index on the prevalence of undernourishment, as well as making progress on a commonly agreed measurement of sustainable agriculture. Moreover, the seminar participants echoed, the Rome-based agencies, in partnership with the countries, should identify minimum standards on the set of indicators required for meaningful monitoring and, afterwards, evaluation. To this end, the potential offered by the platform of the Committee on Food Security will be an unrivaled opportunity.

A key theme of the seminar was that evaluation needs to be locally owned and locally grown. The new global agenda provides an opportunity to reposition the role of evaluation: the complexity of the SDG framework challenges evaluative practice to move beyond compliance with targets, offering instead a vision of evaluators as change agents. The evaluation offices of the Rome-based agencies are well placed to play a supporting role enhancing evaluation knowledge and capacity, in addition to their continuing mandates for evaluation of the respective agency’s contributions to achieving the SDG2. The seminar marked a milestone for continued collaboration among these evaluation offices towards a shared SDG2 evaluation agenda, to be further developed with partners.

The full seminar report will be available by the end of the year [2015], together with a full video showcasing the highlights of the event.