United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia
United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia
The United Nations Economic Commission for Western Asia (ECWA) was established on 9 August 1973 pursuant to the Economic and Social Council resolution 1818 (LV). The purpose of setting up the Commission was to raise the level of economic activity in member countries and strengthen cooperation among them, and to promote the development efforts in the region. In recognition of the social component of its work, the Commission was entrusted with new responsibilities in the social field by virtue of Economic and Social Council resolution 69/1985 of July 1985. Its name therefore became the Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA). ESCWA is headquartered in Beirut, Lebanon.
Promoting a culture of evaluation in-house
Continuous Learning is one of the three main objectives of evaluations at ESCWA. Evaluations contribute to an ESCWA-wide culture of continuous learning by distilling lessons learned, identifying strengths and weaknesses, and promoting diligence and creativity in addressing challenges. Evaluations managed at ESCWA are constructive and forward looking and strive to create ownership of findings by all primary stakeholders.
Evaluation Unit Name: Strategy, Evaluation and Partnership Section
- The Evaluation function is housed in the Strategy, Evaluation and Partnership Section, which also focuses on resource mobilization, partnerships and the promotion of inter-disciplinary policy initiatives and strategic directions.
- The Chief of the Section reports directly to the ESCWA Deputy Executive Secretary for Programme who functions as UNEG Head, and who reports directly to the Head of Office (the Executive Secretary).
- A report is submitted on a biennial basis to the inter-governmental Commission Session, providing a summary of key evaluations, a proposed plan for evaluations, and recommendations for future action.
Staff (as of 1/10/2016)
- UNEG Head (D2), working 5% on evaluations
- 1 Chief of Section (P5), working 20% on evaluations
- 1 Strategic Direction and Evaluation Officer (P4), working 50% on evaluations
- 1 Associate Evaluation Officer (P2), working 100% on evaluation
- 1 Administrative Assistant (G4), working 10% on evaluations
Evaluations conducted or commissioned by the evaluation function in the 2014-15 Biennium
Subprogramme evaluations conducted by external consultants:
- Emerging Conflicts and Related-Issues Subprogramme
- Advancement of Women Subprogramme
Evaluations of Development Account and extra-budgetary projects conducted by external consultants:
- National Agenda for the Future of Syria
- Energy Statistics and Energy Consumption Surveys
- UN Security Council Resolution 1325 Women, Peace and Security
- Workers’ Remittances for Development
- ITC Essentials for Government Leaders
- Developing Green Production Sectors
- Bilateral Investment Treaties
- Climate Change Mitigation for Poverty Alleviation
- Energy Statistics and Energy Balance
- National Youth Policies and Plans of Action
To strengthen accountability, managing for results and continuous learning by:
- assessing ESCWA performance against its strategic framework
- assessing ESCWA DA and XB project deliverables against their objectives
- facilitating the incorporation of lessons learned into planning processes
The evaluation function of ESCWA is located in the Strategy, Evaluation and Partnership Section. The Chief of the section is responsible for implementing the Evaluation Policy and reports to the Deputy Executive Secretary for Programme who acts as UNEG Head, and who reports to the Head of Office (the Executive Secretary).
The evaluation function reports to the inter-governmental Commission Session on a biennial basis, providing a summary of key evaluations, a proposed plan for evaluations, and recommendations for future action.
A new Evaluation Policy was endorsed in mid 2014, and launched on ESCWA's website:
Agenda Setting & Evaluation Planning
The evaluation function prepares a biennial work programme for evaluation which addresses timeliness of evaluations with a view to inform decision-making, identifies priority areas most in need of evaluation based on set criteria, and specifies necessary resources for evaluation. In addition to mandatory final evaluations of Development Account and extra-budgetary projects, the evaluation function evaluates each biennium selected subprogrammes and cross-cutting or thematic topics according to the priorities of the Regional Commission. The work programme is submitted to the Executive Secretary for approval.
Stakeholder involvement and promoting national evaluation capacity development
To enhance the validity and objectivity of the design and implementation of evaluations, the evaluation function makes every effort to identify and involve all relevant stakeholders in evaluations. ESCWA also makes the effort to respect geographical and gender representation, and consults key stakeholders in the design and implementation of the evaluation process to clarify objectives and ensure ownership of results. Two modalities are employed to ensure greater engagement and inclusivity: Steering Groups to include all primary stakeholders, and Reference Groups to include external experts on the subject of evaluation.
Quality Assurance takes place at every the stage in the planning, implementation and follow-up of evaluations and is systematically controlled against UNEG norms and standards. Key tools used to ensure the quality in evaluations are the UNEG Quality Checklists for Terms of Reference, Inception Reports and Final Evaluation Reports.
Use of Evaluation
ESCWA evaluations, regardless of their nature, solicit an explicit management response from the subprogramme or activity manager or the Executive Secretary. The management response outlines detailed remarks per recommendation made in the evaluation report, within one month of report submission; and a specific action plan which maps out the steps that will be taken to address any shortcomings related to objectives, modalities, and results of the evaluated activity.
The production of the action plan is coordinated by the evaluation function and agreed to by the Executive Secretary and the Director of the subprogramme or activity manager. Where the evaluation is of a subprogramme, the plan may form a Compact to be signed between the ES and the Director of the subprogramme. In addition, and in coordination with the evaluation function, subprogramme managers produce yearly status reports on the implementation of the Compact action plan for sub-programme evaluations.
The evaluation function produces biennial reports on the findings of all evaluations, synthesizing findings and identifying institution-wide strengths and weaknesses to share with all ESCWA staff. These findings are taken into account by managers in the preparation of the Strategic Framework, the programme budget, and the design of extra-budgetary projects and technical advisory services. The findings also inform the preparation and/or revision of the ESCWA Evaluation Work Plan.
ESCWA organizes its work in line with UNEG norms and standards and attends UNEG's annual meetings to keep abreast with the latest changes in evaluations in the UN system. In addition, ESCWA works closely with OIOS in the UN Secretariat to conduct biennial self-evaluations of the overall performance of its evaluation function (OIOS Evaluation Scorecard). It also works closely with UN Women, which coordinates the implementation of the UN-SWAP in evaluations. Finally, it collaborates with DESA on the evaluation of Development Account projects.
Associate Evaluation Officer, UNESCWA
Strategy, Evaluation and Partnerships Section
Chief, Strategy, Evaluation and Partnership Section, UNESCWA