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Every Evaluation Contributes to Sustainable Development – the Only Question is How Much and for Whom? by Dorothy Lucks

Hello, AEA365 community! Liz DiLuzio here, Lead Curator of the blog. This week is Individuals Week, which means we take a break from our themed weeks and spotlight the Hot Tips, Cool Tricks, Rad Resources and Lessons Learned from any evaluator interested in sharing. Would you like to contribute to future individuals weeks? Email me at AEA365@eval.org with an idea or a draft and we will make it happen.

Hello, AEA365 community. My name is Dorothy Lucks, an inaugural member of EVALSDGs, a credentialed evaluator, a Fellow of the Australian Evaluation Society and, more importantly, an individual committed to embedding the global-local sustainable development goals (SDGs) in every evaluation that I am involved with. This blog summarizes key ways that all evaluators can get involved in evaluations that can contribute to sustainable change.

You might say, “but I am an evaluator with specialist knowledge in governance/environment/mental health/infrastructure/cultural communities/whatever your expertise is and so sustainable development has nothing to do with the kind of evaluation that I practice.”

Think again! I challenge you to go and read the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and then tell me that you make no contribution to “Transforming our World”.  No matter what we do in evaluation, the conclusions and recommendations are meant to provide the commissioners and those that are influenced – by whatever the subject of the evaluation is – with a pathway forward that contributes to a change for the better. We work for change, and almost all evaluators that I meet are strongly committed to positive change for the world in their own sphere of operation. The SDGs are a powerful tool for collective global and local dialogue on the most important factors for a better future.

So we, as evaluators, are influencers.  The participatory work we engage with, the people we listen to, the decision-makers we ask hard questions of, the evaluation commissioners that we report to, generally expect us to bring them actions for change.

For evaluators such as myself that work with large multinational organizations, national governments, and large thematic evaluations, the links to the SDGs are often clear and the changes influenced through evaluation work can be massive. I have seen evaluation recommendations lead to transformational changes that positively affect the lives of many, protect and improve our environmental assets and that bring more balanced prosperity, including for the most vulnerable.

Yet, our world is in a pitiful situation with continuing degradation and crises at local and global levels – the need for the 5Ps of sustainable development – the imperative for peace and well-being for people and the planet and for prosperity and partnerships – is reflected in every place, in every community, in every city, in every organization.  There is a continuing need for every evaluation to make a contribution in its own context.

Whether you are part of an evaluation team, an independent evaluator, or part of institutional monitoring and evaluation processes, you play an important role within your own context. At the local level, I have worked with local organizations and seen wetland areas saved, endangered red-tailed black cockatoos protected, Noongar cultural heritage being incorporated into city design, people with disabilities given a voice in transport planning and many other miracles which would not have happened without the influence of evaluation.

What influence for sustainable outcomes do you have – how hard do you work for that influence?  It is worth it so make your efforts count – particularly for those people or environments who aren’t in your position of influence – make sure that their voices count!

Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to aea365@eval.org . aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators. The views and opinions expressed on the AEA365 blog are solely those of the original authors and other contributors. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of the American Evaluation Association, and/or any/all contributors to this site.

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