As you may already know, a growing number of evaluation associations and other important organizations around the world have declared 2015 as the International Year of Evaluation (EvalYear). But what does this mean for those of us in AEA?

First of all, please note that this is the International Year of Evaluation, not the Year of International Evaluation, and this difference is important. Indeed, there are many things happening around the world, but 2015 is also a year for each of us to promote the awareness, appreciation, demand, practice, and use of evaluation in our own work, no matter where we live or work. On the Evaluation Capacity Development Group website, long-time AEA member Alexey Kuzmin offers an amazing story and some excellent suggestions about making 2015 your EvalYear.

At the same time, it’s certainly true that many exciting things are happening on the global level:

  • As Past-President Beverly Parsons told us last month, the United Nations recently adopted, for the first time in its history, a stand-alone resolution supporting the field of evaluation. You can read the full text of the U.N. resolution (Section III on page 4) here. You can also view the actual moment of adoption by the U.N. General Assembly, as well as a video about the U.N. resolution from Deborah Rugg, chair of the United Nations Evaluation Group (UNEG) and one of the main forces behind the resolution being adopted. Here's another video, by Tessie Catsambas, AEA’s former representative to the International Organization for Cooperation in Evaluation (IOCE), about the U.N. resolution, EvalYear overall, and the hard work of many persons over the years that has brought us to this historic moment.
  • To provide a visual symbol of EvalYear 2015, an evaluation torch has been developed along the lines of an Olympic torch, and it was lit at a U.N. ceremony on December 17. This torch will travel – in spirit if not in reality – to every evaluation gathering during 2015, appearing at these evaluation gatherings around the world.
  • Our own AEA conference in Chicago in November will be the last of 2015’s national-level evaluation gatherings, and AEA president Stewart Donaldson and the organizers have exciting plans to highlight the conference theme of Exemplary Evaluations in a Multicultural World: Learning from Evaluation’s Successes Around the Globe.
  • In late November, shortly after the AEA conference, a Global Evaluation Forum will be held at the Parliament of Nepal, both to conclude EvalYear 2015 and to launch an exciting new Parliamentarians’ Network for Development Evaluation. Future newsletters will carry more details about this Nepal forum.
  • Wisely looking beyond 2015, global evaluation leaders are hosting virtual discussion forums to develop a Global Evaluation Agenda for 2016-‘20. Here is more information about this planning process.
  • Last, but definitely not least, Marco Segone, UNEG vice-chair and co-coordinator of EvalPartners, describes many of the diverse activities that will occur during 2015 and places them in a larger context. Marco has been one of the most important and most effective leaders behind many of the accomplishments noted above.

As you can see, this is an exciting year for evaluation, and the world will be filled with exciting events. But let’s not forget the practical, close-to-home advice from Alexey Kuzmin:

“The question is: What can 2015 become for each of us? What will your International Year of Evaluation look like? My suggestion is this: Let us have our own (individual) Year of Evaluation agendas. Let us do what is most natural for us considering our cultural, economic, and political environments. Those could be small things. But small is beautiful! Let us simply talk to people about evaluation – just a few more people and talks than usual. Let us use social networks to share that information with our friends and colleagues. We may want to do some pro-bono evaluation related work, or write articles on evaluation for non-evaluation journals.

“I do believe that the International Year of Evaluation can and should be celebrated by each of us individually. By doing small things, we can make a difference and will contribute to evaluation capacity development worldwide. And it will be fun!”

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