Briefing Papers

The EvalSDGs Network  has partnered with the International Institute of Environment and Development (IIED) to produce a series of Briefing Papers on evaluation of the SDGs. The Briefing Papers’ main intent is to raise awareness on the importance of embedding evaluation in national review processes in the frame of the 2030 Agenda.

Evaluating sustainable development: how the 2030 Agenda can help 

As countries increasingly commit to sustainable development pathways, they
need approaches that assess the sustainability dimension of national policies
and interventions, including their contribution to multiple sustainable
development aims. Previous briefings have discussed the importance of
evaluation in 2030 Agenda national follow-up and review processes.

The eleventh briefing entitled From monitoring goals to systems-informed evaluation: insights from SDG14 If the world is going to make significant progress towards achieving theSustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030, development actors will need to think and work in new ways, including in evaluation.


The tenth Briefing entitled “Equity-focused, gender-responsive evidence: a blind spot in VNR reporting.”  In 2018, 46 countries expressed their commitment to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development by voluntarily presenting national reviews of their progress on implementing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) at the 2018 High-level Political Forum (HLPF). Analysis of these voluntary national reviews (VNRs) found that, although monitoring is strong, evaluation receives almost no attention. VNR reporting is not incorporating evaluative evidence, particularly equity-focused and gender-responsive evidence. Access to disaggregated data is a core challenge to tracking progress.


The ninth Briefing entitled “Embedding evaluation in national plans and policies to foster transformative development.” This briefing place emphasis on voluntary national reviews (VNRs), VNRs are an important tool, rolled out globally, for demonstrating how far countries are progressing toward realizing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs); but VNRs represent just one approach to evaluation in the 2030 Agenda. Countries can look beyond evaluation in the context of global reporting through VNRs, to embedding evaluation at the national and local level.

The eight Briefing entitled “VNR Reporting needs evaluation: a call for global guidance and national action” This briefing analyses 43 ‘Voluntary National Reviews’ (VNRs) of progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Extending a 2016 analysis, it finds that monitoring is strong but evaluation systems and processes often remain missing or misunderstood. Sporadic good practice is emerging, such as: linked National Evaluation Policy and action planning (Nepal); recognition of the SDGs’ complexity when considering evaluation (Czech Republic); learning through evaluation (Ethiopia and Kenya); and drawing on findings from past evaluations (Belize). untitled5.jpg

The seventh Briefing entitled “The 2030 Agenda and evaluation: opportunities and challenges for parliamentarians” was released which focuses on ensuring the 17 Goals in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development are meaningfully translated into national policies and programmes that improve citizens’ lives.


The sixth Briefing entitled “Evaluation: a missed opportunity in the SDGs’ first ser of Voluntary National Reviews” (May 2017), reports on a review of the 22 VNRs, which focused on how each addressed the role of evaluation. It found that most VNRs show little awareness about just what evaluation is and how it could be used to support the 2030 Agenda.

brief may 2017 imagen

The fifth Briefing, “Developing National Evaluation Capacity (NEC) in the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) era and interrelated challenges” highlights areas to consider when developing NEC, and is the fifth in a series on effective evaluation for the SDGs.

The fourth Briefing, “Realising the SDGs by reflecting on the way(s) we reason, plan, and act: the importance of evaluative thinking” was just released which focuses on the importance of evaluative thinking for effective follow-up and review frameworks and mechanisms.


 The third Briefing paper was released in September 2016 under the title “Five considerations for national evaluation agendas informed by the SDGs”. This Briefing emphasizes the importance of taking into consideration the inter-connected nature of the sustainable development goals. It summarizes five lessons for evaluation from the MDGs era, and discusses their implications for national evaluation agendas that support countries’ achievement of the SDGs.

The second Briefing paper (July 2016) “Counting critically: SDG ‘follow-up and review’ needs interlinked indicators, monitoring and evaluation”, states that global indicators carry the risk of masking subnational and thematic variations; and that indicators alone cannot explain how or why change occurred; therefore, evaluation can help assess the worth, merit and significance of national policies. brief-july-2016-imagen

The first Briefing entitled “Evaluation a crucial ingredient for SDG success” (April 2016), argues that, to be useful to policy makers and citizens, national review processes must incorporate country-led evaluations.


For more information please contact: Stefano D’Errico at or Dorothy Lucks at

Briefing Papers
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