On May 13, 2013, I boarded the “Climate-Eval Train” super motivated to make the most of a new professional journey that at the time was equally exciting as it was intimidating. Two years later, as I move on to another professional challenge, I am delighted to report that thanks to you we have made some progress in the evaluation of climate change.
As a journalist transitioning into evaluation, the learning curve was pretty daunting and at times seemed almost insurmountable. Yet, from day one, I willed myself to learn with the kind support of my colleagues at the GEF Independent Evaluation Office (GEF IEO). I resolved to seize all available learning opportunities to quickly familiarize myself with not only evaluation methods, theories and paradigms but also the central business of Climate-Eval: the exchange of knowledge.
But no determination could mask the full extent of the challenges ahead of me and the Community of Practice (CoP). Evaluation and climate change evaluation in particular is still very much developing. From an M&E perspective, the complex relationship between climate and other development sectors such as natural resources, agriculture and even health further make things challenging.
Climate-Eval’s membership today stands at over 2500, with the majority of members being passionate professionals in the fields of evaluation, development and climate change. For the most part, they work in leading bilateral and multilateral development organizations across the world, with the aim to improving the lives of people, aiding development in the face of climatic change. Yet, incentivizing these eminent professionals to communicate and share their know-how has and remains perhaps one of the biggest challenges facing Climate-Eval and perhaps communities of practice in general.
Remember, the central premise of Climate-Eval as a CoP is to bring practitioners together to share best practices in the evaluation of climate change with long term goal to end poverty. Yet in two years of facilitating exchange of knowledge in this CoP, I am still battling to find an answer on the question as to what is the best strategy to enthuse the sharing of best practices. How to extract tacit knowledge from qualified professionals remains a major challenge.
Progress has been made in evaluating climate change interventions. The highly acclaimed 2nd International Conference on Evaluating Climate Change and Development created space for leading practitioners to cross fertilize relevant ideas and knowledge on climate change evaluation. More than 100 presentations were delivered and documented. Work is ongoing to capture lessons from the conference in an open-access book which could further facilitate the development and sharing of knowledge on this important strand of evaluation.
Progress was also made on other central elements of the CoP such as further increasing the electronic repository, growing membership, producing webinars, developing guidance reports together with the community, using non-traditional approaches to share knowledge such as blogs, and leveraging social media to further communicate and engage members of the community. While it is hard to measure the impact of these measures, these and many other outputs are on the website and were generally welcomed by the CoP members and the wider field of evaluation and climate change focused professionals.
As the community enters its fifth year, perhaps the central question moving forward is how to use the products developed by Climate-Eval and its member-base as the foundation to further facilitate the evaluation of climate change. This is a particularly pertinent question in the light of upcoming changes in the global climate change and development interventions architecture, expected to result in a significant increase in interventions and thus need for high quality evaluations and related knowledge exchange. One way of doing this for example, will be to not only focus on further increasing the material available in the e-library, but to simultaneously improve the ease of access to the material.
My two year experience of interacting with members leads me to conclude that Climate-Eval is perhaps even more relevant today than it was the case back in 2008 after the Alexandria conference.
Lastly, let me voice my deepest appreciation for all your contributions. The community is what it is today because of all of you members! A warm thank you from my side!
I will be ceding the moderation of Climate-Eval to my colleague here at the GEF IEO, Shanna Edberg and your support to her and the team here at the GEF IEO would be appreciated, so that they can take the community to new heights. I shall henceforth take up regular membership and remind myself to contribute regularly to discussions.
From Wednesday, February 18, I will join the Independent Development Evaluation Department (IDEV) of the African Development bank (AfDB) as Senior KM and Communication Specialist.
New Moderator: Shanna Edberg (firstname.lastname@example.org)