United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia Pacific
United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia Pacific
The United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) is the regional development arm of the United Nations for the Asia-Pacific region. With a membership of 62 Governments, 58 of which are in the region, and a geographical scope that stretches from Turkey in the west to the Pacific island nation of Kiribati in the east, and from the Russian Federation in the north to New Zealand in the south, ESCAP is the most comprehensive of the United Nations five regional commissions. It is also the largest United Nations body serving the Asia-Pacific region with over 600 staff. ESCAP provides the strategic link between global and country-level programmes and issues. It supports Governments of countries in the region in consolidating regional positions and advocates regional approaches to meeting the region's unique socio-economic challenges in a globalizing world. The ESCAP headquarter is located in Bangkok, Thailand.
Promoting a culture of evaluation in-house
Each operational division and office at ESCAP, in addition to the Office of the Executive Secretary and the Division of Administration, have appointed planning, monitoring and evaluation (PME) focal points and assistants. This group of staff members serves as the anchor of M&E at ESCAP. In the context of evaluation, the PME focal points and assistants facilitate the formulation of the biennial ESCAP Evaluation Plan, provide guidance to their colleagues on evaluation during the design phase of programmes and projects, and coordinate the monitoring and reporting on follow-up to evaluations by their division or office. ESCAP also offers opportunities for staff to participate in evaluation training and workshops organized internally as well as externally.
- The ESCAP Evaluation Unit is located in the Strategy and Programme Management Division
Staff (as of 30 June 2015)
- Unit Head : Programme Officer (male)
- Staff: 1 Associate Programme Evaluation Officer and 1 Programme Assistant (both female)
Evaluations conducted or commissioned by the unit during the biennium 2012-2013
- Two evaluation managed centrally by the Evaluation Unit and conducted by external consultants, classified as subprogramme evaluations
- Six evaluations managed by subprogramme units and conducted by external consultants, classified as project/thematic/subprogramme evaluations
Evaluation Expenditure during the biennium 2012-2013, excluding staff costs
- Approximately US$ 127,000 (plus US$80,000 for evaluations commissioned by subprogramme units)
- Strengthen the quality of evaluations through quality assurance support and capacity building
- Increase the use of evaluations findings through knowledge management and knowledge sharing
About Evaluation at ESCAP
Evaluation in the ESCAP context is defined as a selective exercise that seeks to determine systematically and objectively as possible the relevance, efficiency, effectiveness and sustainability of an ongoing or completed subprogramme, project, modality, theme or other initiative in light of its expected results. The Secretary General's bulletin (ST/SGB/2000/8) "Regulations and Rules Governing Programme Planning, the Programme Aspects of the Budget, the Monitoring of Implementation and the Methods of Evaluation" provides the legislative framework for monitoring and evaluation of all activities undertaken by the United Nations secretariat, including ESCAP. The M&E function is further guided by the ESCAP Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) System launched in 2007 and updated in 2010 setting out organizational policies and procedures for monitoring and evaluation. The M&E system reflects UNEG norms and standards.
ESCAP evaluations include external evaluations managed and conducted by entities outside ESCAP, such as the Joint Inspection Unit (JIU), which has a UN-wide mandate, or by the Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS) on the basis of its UN Secretariat-wide mandate; and internal evaluations managed by ESCAP staff, which can be requested by the Commission or planned by the ESCAP secretariat and as either mandatory or discretionary.
The core tasks of the Evaluation Unit include overseeing the process and quality of decentralized evaluations; managing subprogramme/thematic/strategic evaluations conducted by external consultants and coordinating the formulation of management response and follow-up actions to evaluation findings and recommendations and facilitating the use and dissemination of evaluation findings and lessons learned. Other tasks include developing evaluation and RBM capacities in ESCAP and advising on evaluation strategies, norms and standards.
ESCAP Evaluation Policy and Guidelines
ESCAP Monitoring & Evaluation System Overview and Evaluation Guidelines, 2010
The Evaluation Unit of ESCAP is located in the Strategy and Programme Management Division. The officer responsible for the evaluation function at ESCAP has a delegated signatory authority to sign official internal and external correspondence related to programme and project evaluations. He/she also manages the central evaluation budget in consultation with the Director, Strategy and Programme Management Division.
Agenda Setting & Evaluation Planning
ESCAP prepares a biennial Evaluation Plan which identifies evaluation initiatives to be carried out the ESCAP during the two-year programme cycle, as well as related resource requirements in terms of work months and cash. The Evaluation Plan is developed in conjunction with ESCAP's biennial programme budget and thus forms an integral part of the programme planning cycle. The Evaluation Plan is developed as an organization-wide exercise approximately two years before its implementation and is approved by the Executive Secretary of ESCAP.
Stakeholder involvement and promoting national evaluation capacity development
A reference group or expert panel is used as a mechanism for ensuring the active involvement of stakeholders in the ESCAP evaluation process as well as to ensure compliance with the ESCAP evaluation guidelines and alignment with UNEG norms and standards on evaluation. Reference group members can include stakeholders and peers, both internal and external to the project/theme being evaluated. The composition of the reference group is at the discretion of the evaluation manager and the Evaluation Unit. A reference group performs a quasi-oversight function that helps ensure transparency of the management process as well as generate a sense of ownership and participation among reference group members and the organization as a whole. As a member of UNEDAP, ESCAP also participates in regional and national initiatives that promote national evaluation capacity development.
The central responsibility of the Evaluation Unit is to extend quality assurance and support to evaluations of projects at ESCAP, including the preparation of the terms of reference (TOR), the identification of evaluation consultants and the review of the evaluation report. In providing this service, the Evaluation Unit is concerned with assessing and improving the merit or the work of the evaluative activities and their adherence to the ESCAP Evaluation Guidelines and the UNEG norms and standards. One mechanism for ensuring such alignment is through the establishment of a reference group or expert panel which plays an oversight function and provides feedback from a technical and methodological perspective. Reference groups include stakeholders and peers, both internal and external to the project/theme being evaluated and to ESCAP
Use of Evaluation
The use of evaluations for accountability and organizational learning is facilitated through the development of a management response and a follow-up action plan to the findings and recommendations of each evaluation. ESCAP management assumes a critical role in ensuring the use of evaluations as they are involved in the formulation of management responses and follow-up action plans. Through signing off on management responses and follow-up action plans, they commit ESCAP to and are thus accountable for the implementation of follow-up to evaluations. The management response and follow-up action plan form a part of the published evaluation report that is disseminated to the member States and ESCAP partners through the ESCAP website and intranet. A summary of key follow-up actions and their impact is reported to the member States and other stakeholders through the Commission sessions. There is a systematic follow-up by the ESCAP management and the Evaluation Unit on the implementation of evaluation recommendations facilitated through an internal mechanism for tracking the status of follow-up actions.
Evaluation results are disseminated widely within and outside ESCAP. Lessons are extracted and communicated through workshops, meetings with senior management, and meetings with operations management. Evaluations are available in an online repository.
The Evaluation Unit organizes workshops open to all staff, at least once a year, which aim to: share experiences in managing and conducting evaluations during the preceding period; review lessons learned from different evaluations and identify concrete areas in which such lessons can be applied; review the status of evaluation follow-up actions and agree on changes, as appropriate; assess successes and barriers in creating an effective evaluation system and culture at ESCAP, and identify what is needed to further improve ESCAP's M&E System. The Evaluation Unit also develops electronic communication tools, such as videos, to provide ESCAP staff with further guidance and quality support on managing and conducting evaluations and to share key findings and lessons learned from completed evaluations.
ESCAP is a founding and active member of the United Nations Evaluation Development Group for Asia and the Pacific (UNEDAP) along with other UN regional entities such as UNICEF, UNFPA, UNDP, UN-Woman, ILO and UNESCO. UNEDAP's purpose is two-fold: to promote an evaluation culture in the Asia and Pacific region and to strengthen regional evaluation capacities. Since 2008, UNEDAP has been organizing an annual five-day regional course on Evaluation in the UN context for M&E focal points of UN entities in the region as well as ad hoc subregional and country level training programmes based on a specific request by UN entities. UNEDAP also provides quality support to major evaluations, including UNDAF evaluations, through the UNDG Peer Support Group mechanism at the regional level.