Welcome Remarks delivered by UNDP Philippines Deputy Resident Representative Enrico Gaveglia at the 8th Monitoring & Evaluation Forum on 19 November 2019

 

Your Excellencies, Secretary Ernesto del Mar Pernia and Secretary Wendel Eliot Avisado, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, we are delighted to be NEDA's partner for this Forum and welcome all of you this morning

I welcome all of you to this year’s Monitoring & Evaluation Forum.

The next two days will certainly be packed with rich narratives of how far we have been able to make use of evidence from monitoring and evaluation to inform policy reforms and decision-making.

The program was designed to ensure that each session presents an opportunity for all the participants to learn from each other’s experiences, situate their practice and roles against the context of a larger M&E ecosystem, and hopefully develop capacities that can nurture a culture of deep reflection and action.

This year’s theme tackles three very important questions,

·      Who are We in M&E?

·      Where are We in M&E? and Where do We want to go and

·      How do We get there?

 

I.               Who are We in M&E?

The call for a WHOLE of government to take concrete steps towards the increased use of evidence from monitoring and evaluation acknowledges the limitations of a silos approach towards development and the crucial role of system (GOVERNMENT SYSTEM) thinking in fulfilling its SOCIAL CONTRACT here in the Philippines as well as in any other country.

Central to institutionalizing monitoring and evaluation function across the public sector are NEDA as the highest socioeconomic planning body / and DBM as the budget management agency to lead in the conduct of higher-level evaluations dealing with more strategic or broader horizontal issues of government policy to ensure the achievement of national socioeconomic and political development goals.

Pivotal role in the utilization of the results of M&E efforts are the Legislative Department and Implementing Agencies so that inputs originated by M&E do find a way through policy, better planning and budgeting as well as throughout implementation.

BUT here it comes the theme of this year forum: What does it mean to talk about Ecosystem of WE in M&E?

We’re all familiar with ecosystems in the natural world. The word was coined in the 1930s by British botanist Arthur Tansley to refer to a localized community of living organisms interacting with each other and their particular environment of air, water, mineral soil, and other elements. These organisms influence each other, and their terrain; they compete and collaborate, share and create resources, and co-evolve; and they are inevitably subject to external disruptions, to which they adapt together.

It is difficult not to draw a parallelism with other disciplines!

Ecosystems typically bring together multiple players of different types and sizes in order to create, scale, and serve (government/markets, etc)  in ways that are beyond the capacity of any single organization—or even any traditional industry. Their diversity—and their collective ability to learn, adapt, and, crucially, innovate together—are key determinants of their longer-term success

Enabled by greatly enhanced connectivity across specialized capabilities and resources, ecosystems develop new, co-created solutions that address fundamental human needs and desires and growing societal challenges. While forging better ways to create new value, ecosystems also increase the importance of discovering new models to capture that value in a world of commoditization and “de-monetization.”

Beyond Government, the National Evaluation Policy Framework RECOGNIZES the role of civil society, academe, businesses, and development partners in advocating for equity-focused and gender-responsive evaluation systems, in providing capacity building and technical assistance, and in public reporting and dissemination of M&E information to civil society.

The seamless collaboration among these different actors is facilitated by enablers such as open data policies and practices, and innovations and technology that create platforms for a wide range of collaborative arrangements.

 

II.             Where are We in M&E?

But Where are We in M&E? We have over the years seen a change in the paradigm of M&E. Provided as a complementarity to government in the past by non-national actors, then a set of capacities centered around National Ownership have seen a fertile environment of a new set of government capabilities. And now as drivers for change leave the “ivory tower of public institutions” M&E is more and more brought bottom up in a platform of development where the wide public, local agents to find space to voice new demands and hold policy makers to account.

The shared framework for National Evaluation Capacity Development underlines the importance of strengthening both demand and supply capacities at three levels: enabling environment for an M&E system to develop and function, institutional capacities, and individual capacities.

The strengths of the M&E in the Philippines are certainly in:

1.    Enabling policy environment for measuring performance and results.

2.    Evaluation is being championed and co-led by the planning and finance departments of the Philippine Government. Oversight of the National Evaluation Policy Framework (NEPF) is the responsibility of the Evaluation Task Force (ETF), whose members are the Secretaries of NEDA as Chair and DBM as co-chair, respectively.

3.    There are established systems and processes. Within NEDA, through the Monitoring and Evaluation Staff, projects and programs across different sectors are evaluated. In some Implementing Agencies, the monitoring and evaluation function is assumed either under dedicated divisions, or as part of existing units. While the practice of dedicating a percentage of funds for evaluation was an imperative only for foreign-funded projects, the convention of monitoring if and how results are achieved, is now being observed for locally funded projects and programs as well.

4.    The PHL has been able to generate and demonstrate evidence and its use to support good governance.

 

Some challenges – I may say well beyond the PHL.

1.    The demand for M&E is expected to grow with the operationalization of the National Evaluation Policy Framework – it is hazardous to assume that in a wider M&E network – capacities are optimally distributed. Hence the need of taking stock of a competency GAP. What competencies we have – What competencies we want to have = GAP. How to we fill the GAP, any GAP. (buy, trim & invest).

2.    Again a wishful thinking at times to assume that non-specialists know where and how to use M&E information and that reliable information will be made available in a useable form at a time when it is needed. Evidence generated from research end up unused or underutilized. M&E needs to go POP. And we shall resist the temptation of keeping the wealth of deep reflection only within an elected circle of illuminated practitioners. 

 

III.            Where do We want to go and how do We get there?

As to the question of where do we want to go and how do we get there, it is important to recognize that M&E systems are dynamic and evolving and require constant update from a broad and broader set of ecosystem inhabitants.

 

Certainly we want:

1.    That M&E is mainstreamed across government institutions.

 

2.    Systems and processes are well established, harmonized and open to evolution. It is a bit like your Mobile applications – continuous upgrade is the refrain of your system settings, isn’t it?

3.    Innovation is of essence, business as usual can’t keep up the finding originated by complex and multi-dimensional development problems.

4.    Finally, evaluation studies are being championed in global fora and PHL has a role to play on the international stage to promote stronger global network and relationships for a world wide learning.

 

IV.           Closing and Message of Support

In closing:

I often think of M&E as the capabilities of Intel-ligere – read in between, understanding, learning. And as design thinking is flavouring the development space with a new taste of empathic connection, M&E can be significantly enhanced to become more viable, where there is a community of professionals and advocates who value evaluation nationwide, support a government that is governed by evidence-based policy making and programming, and build inclusion for A / THE public that demands an M&E that matters and that aims to improve their lives.

UNDP remains committed to contribute to an increased sense of awareness of self and others in this newly defined space of interaction.

One of our relevant initiatives is the Strategic M&E Project, financed by NEDA aims to create tangible experiences across selected government agencies for M&E support and evidence-based decision making. 

This gathering is not the end, it hopefully adds an ‘experience’ – we wish you fruitful discussions, productive dialogue as we remain convinced that – if we want to remain relevant (development partners, institutions inhabitants of the M&E ecosystem) we ought to strengthen the way we are all wired in a meaningful way and with a renewed sense of purpose for the work that we do.

Again, congratulations and thank you and thanks for your time. [E]

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