Interest and concern over public policy evaluation have grown globally during the first two decades of the 21st century. This is reflected in various ways: (a) theoretical production and its consequent methodological reflection in the field of evaluation; and (b) the increase of evaluation practices and national evaluation policies in countries on every continent, reflected in the increase of evaluations embedded in institutions and the rise of various initiatives focused on professionalising this practice.
At global level, these trends became more predominant when 2015 was declared the International Year of Evaluation by the United Nations General Assembly. This created a sort of alliance or consensus over the relevance of the topic due to the combined interest and actions of various national state institutions, the main international development bodies, non-governmental organisations, academia, and Voluntary Organizations for Professional Evaluation (VOPE); the latter of which comprise evaluation practice networks, associations and communities. These institutional stakeholders share an interest in developing evaluation as an instrument to improve public policies.
In effect, evaluation constitutes a tool for new forms of governance. Increasingly, good governments are not only those who follow democratic rules and means, but those who also take care to improve the service that they provide to citizens. Civil society is increasingly critical and demanding in terms of wanting to be informed concerning public agenda and this therefore requires spaces for participation.
Also in 2015, the UN approved the 2030 Agenda, an action plan that sets out 17 Sustainable Development Goals, focused on improving social development, the economy and the environment as well as promoting peace and access to justice. They include monitoring and evaluation mechanisms with the aim that goals should be monitored and reviewed systematically, placing civil society at the centre of the process and thus helping countries implement this agenda.
It is in this context that global evaluation priorities have been adapted to focus on reducing the gap between the evaluator community (supply) and the policy-making community (demand) to make civil society the central figure, and ensure not only that evaluations respond to the needs of the users, but also that quality standards are evidence-based, credible and put to effective use when public policies are formulated and managed. The principles that emanate from the 2030 Agenda are key references to direct all of us who are working hard to adapt evaluation systems.
In this regard, we would like to share the testimony (with English subtitles) of Marcia Itzel Checa, a Mexican evaluator, who refers to participatory evaluation as a key tool to support the principles of the 2030 Agenda: leave no one behind. She affirms that it is an approach that seeks to bring together the voices of multiple actors, so that their living conditions can be improved. Thank you Itzel for your reflections!