Helen Clark: Opening Introduction for the Session on Evaluation

02 Feb 2011

Executive Board of the United Nations Development Programme and the United Nations Population Fund

Helen Clark – UNDP Administrator
Opening Introduction for the Session on Evaluation


I am pleased to open this Executive Board session on evaluation.

Strengthening programme quality, oversight, and accountability are among UNDP’s highest priorities. Independent and quality evaluation is central to achieving them all.

Through credible evaluations of UNDP’s contributions and development impact we gain insights into what makes our work effective and what we need to do better. Evaluation informs and guides our efforts to respond more effectively and efficiently to complex development challenges, and to deliver sustainable development results.

UNDP’s senior management is committed to having a results-orientation at every level of the organization. To support this goal and in line with the Board’s request, UNDP’s evaluation policy has been revised to clarify what we expect and need from evaluations. This revised policy, which Rebeca Grynspan, the Associate Administrator will present shortly, includes commitments to:

  • ensure that evaluation is considered from the outset - within the design of our programmes;
  • further engage national partners and help to strengthen national evaluation capacity; and
  • ensure that the lessons learned from evaluations can inform the work of the organization as a whole.

The revised policy also clarifies the respective responsibilities of all of us, including the Board, in using evaluations more effectively.  I trust that the Board will approve the revised policy.

The Board is also asked to consider five thematic evaluations conducted by the Evaluation Office in 2010, and UNDP’s management responses to them. Saraswathi Menon, Director of the Evaluation Office, will present the evaluations, and the management responses will be presented by the relevant Bureau Director or by the Associate Administrator.  

Four of the evaluations review UNDP’s effectiveness in key areas of our work – capacity development; disaster prevention and recovery; local governance; and poverty and the environment. The fifth examines UNDP’s regional contribution to development and corporate results.

Senior management has discussed the findings and recommendations of each evaluation at some length. The evaluations in some cases confirmed the importance of the priorities we already established, or the steps we are now taking. In other cases, new challenges and ways forward were revealed. Taken together, they reveal important opportunities for UNDP, and offer common lessons as we look forward to the Mid-Term Review of the strategic plan.

The evaluations recommend that UNDP should more systematically capture and validate lessons learned from practice. They recommend incentivizing the sharing of field-based innovations and codifying of what we collectively have learned in order to identify patterns and extract what is most relevant for policy. They emphasize that country offices need to rely on timely and credible support from experts, advisers, and experienced peers who work as a team to achieve development results.  

In line with these findings, UNDP is working to strengthen its policy advisory services and to improve knowledge sharing, including through the Teamworks platform.

Another common theme in the evaluations is the need to deepen our partnerships with civil society, the private sector, and emerging development partners. As countries have more development partners, and more varied sources of support than ever before, UNDP must strengthen and expand its own partnerships to reflect this new reality.   

The evaluation found that UNDP at the regional level is effective in generating common solutions to shared challenges. It was concluded that better integrating our efforts to reduce poverty and protect the environment is essential to UNDP’s human development mandate.

My colleagues will present the findings of the responses in more detail. Senior management will be closely monitoring the implementation of each management response. We hope that the Board will approve the responses at this session, and support our efforts to strengthen evaluation as a forward looking tool for learning and development effectiveness.