Rome, Italy, November 18 2015. After two days of enriching and stimulating discussions, evaluation stakeholders have identified some priorities for evaluating actions to reduce hunger and poverty and improve nutrition.

The discussions were held at a seminar on “Enhancing the evaluability of Sustainable Development Goal 2 (SDG2): End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture.” The two-day seminar was organized jointly by four Rome-based agencies – the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), the Consultative Group for International Agricultural Research (CGIAR), Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Food Programme (WFP). Over 150 participants, consisting of independent evaluators, government partners, multinational development agencies, academics and donor agencies attended the seminar, with over 1500 connections to the live webcast.

The participants identified the need to foster new partnerships in evaluating the SDGs and to developcapacityto measure the numerous SDG indicators.

Speaking on the issue of partnerships, the President of IFAD, Kanayo Nwanze, said achieving SDG2 would depend on building stronger partnerships, because “SDG2 goes far beyond the realm of food security and nutrition” and because development processes are complex and interrelated. He said evaluators should be more sophisticated in their approach and begin to think of how to measure development in terms of “how many people are coming out of poverty and have better lives as a result of development assistance.”

The seminar featured keynote presentations on the role of evaluation in the SDGs by Mr Jomo Kwame Sundaram, Assistant Director-General, Coordinator for Economic and Social Development at FAO and Ms Sunita Narain, Director-General Centre for Science and Environment.

Mr Sundaram said evaluators should think about the new context of development with the SDGs and what it means for evaluation. He told participants to apply lessons from the MDGs in their evaluation of the SDGs and ensure that their indicators have track record, are credible and affordable.

Ms Narain said in order to achieve sustainable growth there is a need for value diversity and changes in methods of production and consumption. She said to effectively evaluate SDG2, evaluators must measure undernutrition, malnutrition and investments in water.

Group discussions in the seminar focused on four themes: the relevance of new metrics for the evaluation of SDG2, partnerships and development actors, national monitoring and evaluation systems and data availability, and demand for and use of evidence from evaluation.

The heads of the evaluation units of the four organizing agencies, Oscar Garcia (IFAD), Rachel Sauvinet-Bedouin (CGIAR), Masahiro Igarasgi (FAO) and Helen Wedgewood (WFP) highlighted key issues emerging from discussions in the seminar. These included the need to define the role of the different partners and their targeting strategies, develop stronger partnerships among evaluation stakeholders and support the multiplicity of evaluation efforts at the national level in order to add value at the lower level. It also included the need to “unpack” SDG2 and develop evaluability assessment for some of the components, devise a theory of change to evaluate changes being expressed in SDG2 in relation to other SDGs, develop a framework for assessing what works in the countries, contribute to evaluation leadership capacities for SDG2, involve the private sector, and adopt technologies that will enhance better evaluation of the SDGs.

“We are not evaluating SDGs as such, we’re evaluating some actions, policies and efforts that will contribute to progress towards achieving SDG2,” said Masahiro Igarashi, Director FAO Office of Evaluation. “We have the obligation as evaluators to deliver products that meet the needs of our users, particularly at the country level,” he added.

This seminar has set the stage for discussions globally on how to provide credible evidence and build stronger partnerships for evaluating and addressing the challenges of the new SDGs agenda. It ended with a call for better coordination and collaboration among evaluation stakeholders towards achieving the targets of the SDGs. 

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