A 4. Navigating Spectacular Ambitions: Developing a Learning System to Ensure the Sustainable Development Goals of “No One Left Behind”

Sanjeev  Sridharan
  • Presenter: Sanjeev Sridharan
  • Date: 20-Oct-2019

A 4. Navigating Spectacular Ambitions: Developing a Learning System to Ensure the Sustainable Development Goals of “No One Left Behind”

Trainer: Sanjeev Sridharan and April Nakaima
Level: Beginning/intermediate
Language: English 

Workshop description: 

Key topics to be covered to be covered in the workshop will include:

  1.  How theories of change need to accommodate thinking about sustainable impacts. There is a need to move beyond a theory of change (of impacts ) towards a theory of change of sustainable impacts ;
  2. The differences between impacts and sustainable impacts and its implications for evaluation methodology;
  3. A case study of the challenges of reaching maternal health SDG targets in India’s largest State, Uttar Pradesh
  4. Multiple ways of operationalizing context; Stress the relevance of understanding contexts for evaluation;
  5. This workshop will combine a realist evaluation focus (realism focuses on understanding the context and mechanisms of observed impact patterns ) with more standard notions of impact evaluation and an explicit focus around sustainability evaluation. We believe that this multiple focus around impacts processes, sustainability and absorptive capacity will help government decision-makers make more informed choices to achieve SDGs.

Relevance/Rationale of the Topic:
This workshop will explore the multiple roles that evaluation can play in enhancing the likelihood that the SDGs focus on “No One Left Behind” can be successful. An evaluation is much more than measurement, indicators, design and attribution. Good evaluations doesn’t merely ask if interventions work; they raise questions about what needs to happen to make things work in different contexts. For example, realist evaluation draws attention to the context and mechanisms necessary for interventions to achieve impacts. Developmental evaluation asks: How can evaluators themselves promote the dynamic development of solutions? The utility of different evaluation approaches to the SDGs will be explored.

Teaching Strategy:
The workshop will combine a case study of an extensive evaluation of maternal health and nutrition in India’s largest state with presentation and discussions around enduring problems in understanding evaluation’s role in generating knowledge of how best to achieve SDGs.

Learning outcomes:
  • The differences between sustainable impacts and traditional notions of impacts;
  • How to define concepts like absorptive capacity and planning for sustainability;
  • How best to use quantitative and qualitative methods to assess the sustainability impacts of programs;
  • Understand that it is hard to estimate sustainable impacts without knowledge of pro gram processes and mechanisms;
  • Develop theories of change that include sustainability as a key construct.