“What works”: five lessons from the evidence global summit

What Works Global Summit | London


Between September 24th and 28th, in the city of London, CIPPEC participated in the “What Works Global Summit”. This meeting brought together more than 800 professionals to discuss best practices in the production and use of evidence in the public sector.


In this summit we have the opportunity to learn about new evidence in specific public policy areas (education, safety, health, and environment) and to review new methodological tools to measure impacts. However, the main topic of the conference was to analyze effective ways to promote the interaction between research and the decision-making process.


In this regard there are five lessons learned that can be concluded from this Summit:


1. The use of evidence is growing in Latin America and in the world, but there is still much more to do. CEDLAS and Grade (2012) produced a paper on the use of impact evaluation in Latin America, they found that between 1995 and 2011 there was an increase in the number of evaluations performed in the region. They also showed that the majority of those evaluations (76%) analyzed the impacts produced by public programs, however in the vast majority of cases the government was not involved in the evaluation process.


2. It is not only important to produce new evidence but also to use the existing one. Evidence Maps (3ie) and systematic reviews (Campbell Collaboration) are good examples of how civil society is using the existing literature to produce (and use) evidence.


3. Despite multiple efforts, most research is still underused used. This problem occurs in all countries regardless of their development level. New research is trying to understand what mechanisms can promote the use of evidence. A first conclusion is that the linkage between capacity, opportunity and motivation is necessary to ensure that public officials use evidence in their decisions. An interesting discussion on this can be read in this article published in The Guardian.


4. To improve the use of evidence is critical to have a policy influence plan. Engage with policy-makers from the beginning of the research project helps not only to identify the questions that are most relevant for the public sector, but also to produce better recommendations. These findings are similar to those CIPPEC published last year when we analyzed the effectiveness of impact evaluations in Latin America.


5. Finally, the private sector is also making significant progress in the use of evidence. The entrepreneurship Aggrupa, in partnership with the World Bank and Innovation for Poverty Action, is conducting an experimental impact evaluation to measure the social impact of the company in Bogotá. In addition the Inter-American Investment Corporation (IIC), the private sector of the IADB, relaunched the Development Effectiveness Division in order to measure the development effectiveness and impact of the IIC’s operations.



This article was written by Agustina Suaya, coordinator of the Monitoring and Evaluation Program of CIPPEC. 

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