The Importance of Negative Evidence

News Date: 

Thursday, May 30, 2013

The evidence movement has often focused on positive evidence: If it does not work: no clue why, just stop funding. If it does work: no certainty why, just increase funding (Rob van den Berg)

Have you taken a minute to think through the importance of negative evidence in shaping better public policy, making better decisions and tackling our problems afresh?

Dr Christine Wörlen rob van den berg

Besides this, have you heard of the “theory of no Change” developed by , former expert of the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and now consultant for Climate-Eval?

Well, early this month in Bridgetown, Barbados at the Global Assembly of the International Development Evaluation Association (IDEAS), these two colleagues (Rob van den Berg and Christine Wörlen) of the Global Environment Facility Evaluation Office and Arepo Consult in Berlin, Germany respectively engaged other evaluators and development stakeholders with their perspectives on the importance of negative evidence, why it matters and should be considered.

For a reminder, Dr Christine Wörlen came up with the “theory of no change” in 2011 on the basis of her terminal evaluations that showed no progress in halting greenhouse gas emissions. Details on her Meta evaluation on climate change mitigation evaluations commissioned by Climate-Eval online community of practice can be found here.

As you may expect, the engaging session drew interesting perspectives from an audience on different sides of the of the evidence movement.

While the stricter adherents to the fashionable evidence movement in public policy would dismiss this as non-rigorous information that should be discarded, others think it is worth considering.

According to Rob van den Berg, the session in Barbados was also meant to provoke colleagues and get them to think about the potential contribution of negative evidence - which also can be termed "learning from our mistakes" - in tackling problems afresh.

Guess I should let you read on:

click below for both powerpoint presentations

Should you need to contact both speakers, please email:

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