Over the last week, 3ie staff in Delhi, London and Washington were busy coordinating conference logistics, finalising the conference programme, figuring out how to balance 3ie publications and clothing in their suitcases, and putting the last touches to their presentations. This is usual conference preparation for a conference that is going to be different. Why is this conference different? The participant mix – more than 500 people – is balanced among policymakers, programme managers and implementers, and researchers.
With our partners – the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) – we’ve put together an exciting programme for the first-ever global conference on impact evaluations and systematic reviews held in Asia. Making impact evaluation matter: better evidence for effective policies and programmes will run from 1 – 5 September.
We have put together workshops and parallel conference sessions that will promote peer learning. We will be fostering engagement and rich discussions on how to use, make decisions from, design, implement, and learn from impact evaluations and evidence syntheses.
In the opening plenary, Paul Gertler will address challenges to using rigorous evidence to make better policy, and this theme will run through the conference. A key conference goal is to have this diverse and expert collective of participants share knowledge and experience about overcoming barriers to evidence supply and demand.
To further this goal, implementers will be able to learn more about commissioning and using impact evaluation findings. They can, then, discuss with researchers about what evaluation questions and methods will most likely answer their decision-making needs on the ground. These discussions will benefit researchers too, as they better understand the priority evidence questions of implementers, policymakers and funders.
Policymakers and funders will find out about the benefits – and challenges — of undertaking high-quality, mixed-methods impact evaluations and systematic reviews. They will also understand more about when studies and reviews are most effective and how they can use their findings.
We will foster productive and diverse dialogues and debates on how to improve development effectiveness. There will be ample knowledge-sharing on the state-of-the-field methods and learning about how and when to do impact evaluations and reviews well.
We will be asking important questions. Are we providing quality evidence that informs a decision-maker’s need? What are the gaps that limit uptake and use of rigorous findings? We hope to find important answers as well.
The conference organisers will encourage practitioners, researchers, policymakers and donors to address questions we know interest them: how and when does community-driven development work?; how can impact evaluation be used to assess agency performance?; and how can we improve infrastructure policy and planning?
Sessions will raise sector-specific questions, such as how to scale-up a successful programme (or modify or terminate one that has proved less successful), as well as how to take lessons learnt in one context and translate them for planning and priority setting in another one.
David McKenzie, reviewing this paper from Boudreau and colleagues, recently reminded us that conferences and coffee meet-ups are important for finding and engaging with research collaborators. We fully agree! But we also want to expand the conversation beyond co-authoring to match-making between the needs of implementers, decision makers, and researchers. We certainly hope some new projects and partnerships are initiated at this conference.
If you’re coming to Manila, we look forward to seeing you. Remember that you can start to get in the swing of the many conversations by viewing the joint ADB-3ie video lecture series that 3ie put together for this conference. You can also receive regular updates from the conference organisers, including new blogs, videos, photos and other conference updates through the IE matters mobile app available in Google Play Store (an app for iPhone users will be launched shortly). Scan this QR code or visit this link to download the app.
If you can’t make it to Manila, don’t worry, there are lots of ways to participate. You might miss networking during coffee breaks and shared meals but you can still be part of the larger conversation about how to make impact evaluation and systematic reviews matter for planning and decision-making. There will be live streaming of the plenary sessions; check the conference homepage for details. We’ll be blogging and tweeting #IEmatters. Our roaming videographers will be interviewing participants throughout and catching some of the parallel sessions. We’ll be posting those videos online on the conference website, on Facebook, as well as our own.