ACEVAL works towards strengthening evaluation of SDGs in Mexico

Picture credit: Local 2030.org

The Mexican Evaluation Society (ACEVAL) with EvalPartners support aimed to strengthen monitoring and evaluation capacities of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) through an innovative programme roll-out at the sub-national level. Here is a snapshot of what the project covered.

The answers were provided by ACEVAL.

Give a short overview of the project that aimed to strengthen evaluation practices at the sub-national level & SDGs in Mexico?

From July 2020 to April 2021, ACEVAL carried out the project Strengthening monitoring and evaluation capacities for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) at the subnational level, which was part of the EvalPartners Flagship 1 Program. This effort had five key strategies:

  1. A competition for innovative SDG monitoring and evaluation practices, with the aim of learning from innovative SDG M&E exercises. Twenty-four proposals were received from Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Mexico and Nicaragua, which were evaluated by an external jury with extensive experience in evaluation, formed by UNDP Mexico, EvalYouth LAC and the University of Guadalajara. The proposals were evaluated under the criteria of relevance, clarity, methodological rigor, innovation and use of evaluation. From there, a winning practice was judged in each of the four categories of the contest, and an honorable mention was awarded.
  2. The dissemination and socialization of the winning practices through different dissemination materials on social networks (Facebook, Twitter and YouTube). The purpose of these materials was to socialize each of the winning practices, highlighting their distinctive and innovative aspects in SDG M&E and thereby contributing to other exercises. Likewise, the set of experiences participating in the “Innovative monitoring and evaluation practices for the SDGs contest” were systematized in a document that sought to recover their experiences and lessons learned, and contribute to the promotion of a culture of evaluation at the subnational, national and regional levels.
  3. Professionalization and capacity building through six Training workshops for young and emerging evaluators, which had an extraordinary response, with an enrolment of 303 people. From this group, 145 people were selected, of which 127 young people participated effectively. The purpose of this training program was to strengthen evaluation skills, contributing to the development of a new generation of professionals capable of responding to the challenges posed by the current scenario. For its development, a strategic alliance was established with UNDP, given its expertise in the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs.
  4. A mentoring program for young evaluators, with the participation of eight pairs of mentors and young people. In the case of young and emerging evaluators (YEEs), the program was accessed by those who took part in the professionalization training workshops held previously and thus put into practice the knowledge acquired. The program consisted of three modules: “Evaluating an evaluative practice”, “Evaluating a program” and “Thinking about the future”.  To assess their efforts, a high-level jury was formed by Clear-LAC, the International Network for the Evaluation of Public Policy (RIEPP) and the global initiative EvalYouth. The program was a space for discussion, access to knowledge and exchange of experiences between YEEs and specialized mentors.
  5. Exchange panels in the International Conference on Evaluation (ICE) 2021, around evaluation and the SDGs. Two central panels were organized, one for the exchange of winning innovative practices and five roundtables practices and five round tables, in which the state of the art of M&E policies, programs and actions aimed at meeting the SDGs in different sectors (public, social and private), and reflected on the state of the art of M&E in different sectors (public, social and private sectors), and reflected on the contribution of M&E to the advancement of the goals set out in the 2030 Agenda and leave no one behind. This space was highly relevant for the evaluation community in Mexico and the Latin American region, as it was attended by 445 participants. Latin American region, as it was attended by 445 participants from 18 countries, and panelists of international stature.
From ACEVAL we are sure that the Flagship Program contributed to the professionalization and development of the evaluation field in Mexico, enhancing the exchange of experiences and providing information in the promotion of an innovative evaluation exercise

Do you think evidence is sufficiently used by governments at the national level in Mexico?

No, the current federal government has shown resistance to the use of evidence and/or acceptance of CONEVAL’s information, stating that it has other data that attempt to counteract unfavorable data on the country’s situation.

On the other hand, electoral conflicts within our presidential system favor the imposition of positions and little forces political actors to generate consensus. To a large extent, this means that evidence is not only insufficient when making political decisions, but also hinders and conditions them.

 

What can evaluators do to become Evidence Champions and promote the use of evidence at national level?

The evaluation community can promote the relevance of the information by showing its usefulness through accessible language that connects with people and reinforces the learning character of the evaluation.

In Mexico, information systems have had ample growth but are limited in their publicity, management and systematization. Defending evidence as an input to make agreements possible goes hand in hand with the existence of information and efficient communication of the data obtained, but it is also required that the normative frameworks of evaluations are not anchored to the mere compliance of procedural factors, but that the training of evaluators should be more robust in quantitative and qualitative aspects. And even more, that evaluation is seen as part of a system where the public problem, the government agenda, the formulation, design and implementation are interconnected so that evaluation is permanent and contemplated in all the phases of public policy.

The evaluation community can promote the relevance of the information by showing its usefulness through accessible language

Broadly, what progress has been made in terms of country-led evaluation of the SDGs in Mexico?

Recently, the Mexican government released the Voluntary Report on compliance with the SDGs, which is positive because it speaks of an intention to comply with the 2030 Agenda. At the same time, civil society presented its Light Report, with which there are a number of areas of opportunity that are important to reinforce and discuss.

In this context, progress has been made in local legislatures on the need to regulate planning with a focus on the 2030 Agenda, however, much progress has been made in nominal and regulatory terms, but it is still a challenge to make it operational. This is largely due, on the one hand, to the large number of federal entities, and on the other, to the high number of municipalities in the country (about 2,500). This amplitude and dispersion of local governments generates problems for the proper applicability of the 2030 Agenda.

Despite the above, the SDGs continue to gain ground in institutional agendas and have been seen as an ally to incorporate dispersed and distant issues, such as the human rights agenda and the need to visualize the 2030 Agenda as a way to implement more efficient policies.

Progress has been made in local legislatures on the need to regulate planning with a focus on the 2030 Agenda

Why does evidence matter in the journey towards 2030?

Better evidence allows us to illustrate what the real diagnosis is, based on objective information and, on that basis, to propose more consistent public actions and solutions according to the needs recorded. Otherwise, public action loses power and direction.

It allows us to visualize substantive progress as well as the limitations of the 2030 Agenda. Something that has become important is that every time the SDGs are advanced nominally, it allows to visualize a more general panorama but with local challenges, for example, the international human rights standards that support each of the goals, which, when viewed with this approach, is nourished by other operational frameworks.

Better evidence allows us to illustrate what the real diagnosis is, based on objective information and, on that basis, to propose more consistent public actions and solutions according to the needs recorded

What do you think is the meaning of the Global Evaluation Agenda, and how should evaluators approach the EvalAgenda in this Decade of Action?

It is highly relevant to position evaluation as a tool for transformation in an articulated manner.

Progress has been made in observing evaluation as part of public policies and not as an isolated element, thus not only reformulating the evaluation practice, but also improving the way in which we understand public problems, generating better program and project designs, and allowing implementation to be seen not only as a mere inertia of the designs, but in this phase of execution, opening up the possibility of analyzing the conflictive field of implementation.

No less important is that the meaning of the Global Evaluation Agenda allows to register advances and setbacks, allowing to visualize a scenario in which the citizenship is favored with information, which generates its involvement.

As we belong to a country where presidentialism is far superior to parliamentarism, the records on the progress of something very concrete such as the 2030 Agenda, generates inputs that allow a new way of planning, but also of programming and budgeting.

The EvalAgenda is highly relevant to position evaluation as a tool for transformation in an articulated manner

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