Blog posts

REBLOG: Complex Theories of Change: Recipes for failure or for learning?

The diagram below is a summary of a Theory of Change for interventions in the education sector in Country X. It did not stand on its own, it was supplemented by an extensive text description.

Its complex in the sense that there are many different parts to it and many interconnections between them, including some feedback loops. It seems realistic in the sense of capturing some of the complexity of social change. But it may be unrealistic if it is a prescription for achieving change. Whether it is the later depends on how we interpret the diagram, which I discuss below.

The COP19 and its implications for climate change M&E professionals

For the past few weeks the international climate change community, from national negotiators to NGOs and campaigners, has gathered at Warsaw for the 19th ‘conference of the parties’ (COP), hosted by the UNFCCC. Dennis Bours is team leader of SEA Change community of practice, which focuses on monitoring and evaluating climate change interventions in Asia and beyond. In this blog he gives us the run-down of what happened at COP and some take-aways for those interested in monitoring and evaluating climate change projects

REBLOG: Special Coverage of COP19: Top Five Pick for CC & NRM Evaluators

Having covered five UNFCCC conferences in the past, I recognize how challenging it could be to wrap one's mind around all the major issues going on in a conference with widely different interests and agendas.

But I guess it is fair to say that the UNFCCC annual gatherings comes down to an official negotiation track, a stream of advocacy and pressure activities from activists and pro-climate NGOs such as Greenpeace and WWF and a stream of activities from development organizations seeking to inform policy and better understanding of the issues surrounding climate.

REBLOG: Special Coverage of COP19 in Warsaw

  • An emotional opening statement from the lead negotiator of the Philippines
  • Full statement of Executive Secretary of UNFCCC
  • Conference expected to make progress on GHG emissions reduction, funding for adaptation, Green Climate Fund, and concrete steps to reach target of $100 billion by 2020 in climate funding
  • Sessions of interest to evaluators of climate change and natural resources management

REBLOG: To build climate resilience cities must assess diverse drivers of vulnerability

Three new studies from Vietnam show how research can help governments devise solutions that help their citizens adapt to the effects of climate change.

As the most densely populated places on Earth, cities and towns concentrate risk from climatic events such as floods, storms and heat waves. But that doesn’t mean risk is spread evenly across the populations that live there. Urban centres are complex systems and simple ‘one-size-fits-all’ policy responses will not be enough. What factors decide how vulnerable someone living in a city is to the impacts of climate change, or how they become more resilient? What makes some policy responses more effective than others? Three new studies from Vietnam, which IIED has supported through the Asian Cities Climate Change Resilience Network, provide answers to such questions.

REBLOG: Developmental evaluation and complexity for breakfast

Two months ago, I attended the national conference of the Canadian Evaluation Society which brought together a number of like-minded people to exchange ideas and promising practices. At a closing session, the audience was asked to use clickers and vote on their main areas of professional concern. When the votes were tallied, topping the list was "complexity and systems thinking". All I could think about was peanut butter and jelly.

As an audience member (and presenter) at the conference, I could sense that there was a hunger for new approaches aimed at engaging stakeholders in evaluation. One of these, Developmental Evaluation (DE), was featured prominently by Hallie Preskill at FSG in the keynote address and by a number of session presenters.

An overview of climate change relevant sessions at the AEA Conference in Washington DC (16-19 October 2013)

The AEA Conference is quickly approaching and with approximately 2,800 evaluators and 875 sessions spanning the breadth and depth of the M&E field it might be hard to make choices regarding sessions you would want to visit.

With the topics of climate change, environment, adaptation, resilience and questions regarding M&E and complexity in mind, we are offering a short overview of sessions we identified as relevant to the SEA Change member-base. A number of these sessions will also be recorded and made available online for those who will not be able to join us at the AEA Conference in Washington DC.

REBLOG: The art of the possible: listening to the real experts

Several years ago I was taking part in a conference on the roots of the conflict in Darfur, and potential ways out of it. After many of us so-called experts had presented our varied research findings and our different ideas, a representative from the Darfur pastoralists stood up and asked a simple question: what they were supposed to do, as many of us had contradicted each other with our suggestions. This gave us pause for thought. After several convoluted answers, a wise man told him: "The best thing you can do is stop listening to the experts and outsiders’.

I witnessed that advice being used to good effect a few years later. I was in Belize at a consultation meeting with stakeholders to support the Government in the roll-out of the MDG Acceleration Framework on water and sanitation. As a group of international experts on the subject and a local consultant, we thought we had a pretty good idea of what the problems, and potential solutions, would be.

REBLOG: The Millennium Development Goals: one last push

The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) have been the biggest game in ‘development-town’ since 2000, helping to shape priorities for both international and national development. The result has been, on average, unprecedented progress and improvements in the quality of life across the developing world, with the MDGs providing both a motivation for progress and a yardstick for its measurement.

In the foreword to the official MDG Report 2013, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon calls the goals ‘the most successful global anti-poverty push in history’. Ambitious and wide-ranging achievements have included halving the proportion of people living in extreme poverty since 1990, adding more than two billion people to those with improved access to drinking water, a 25% reduction in mortality rates from malaria, and a reduced debt burden for developing countries.