Evaluation of the Contribution of the Global and Regional Human Development Reports to Public Policy Processes

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Evaluation Plan:
2014-2017, Independent Evaluation Office
Evaluation Type:
Thematic
Planned End Date:
01/2015
Completion Date:
06/2015
Status:
Completed
Management Response:
Yes
Evaluation Budget(US $):
350,000

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Title Evaluation of the Contribution of the Global and Regional Human Development Reports to Public Policy Processes
Atlas Project Number:
Evaluation Plan: 2014-2017, Independent Evaluation Office
Evaluation Type: Thematic
Status:Completed
Completion Date:06/2015
Planned End Date: 01/2015
Management Response:Yes
Corporate Outcomes (UNDP Strategic Plan 2008-20013)
Evaluation Budget(US $): 350,000
Source of Funding:
Joint Programme:No
Mandatory Evaluation:No
Joint Evaluation: No
Evaluation Team members:
Name Title Email Nationality
GEF Evaluation:No
Key Stakeholders:
Lessons
Findings
Recommendations
1 Given the positive reputation, the global HDRs have the potential to keep human development on the agenda of public debate and policy process. The time is ideal to re-launch the idea of human development much more strategically, and help UNDP regain the intellectual space in the global development discourse that it once commanded. It is also recommended to address factors causing damage to the reputation of the report and its contribution. Management response: UNDP welcomes this recommendation
2 UNDP should revisit the purpose of human development indices and examine their value added to the messages of the reports. Given the computation and data issues, HDRO should not proliferate the report with composite indices which have limited value.
3 There have been efforts by the HDRO in the past years to address various criticisms related to methodology of the HDI, and there have been revisions to the index. While such efforts are important, they are not sufficient to address the fundamental limitations of the index. To be able to achieve greater policy and analytical influence, consider reconstructing the HDI following a thorough review.
4 UNDP should take adequate measures to enhance the influence of the global HDRs on public policy process. The role of UNDP programme units is extremely important in achieving this.
5 The management of the global HDRs needs to be adequately strengthened to provide a stable environment for report preparation and to enhance the reputation of the reports.
6 UNDP should revisit the purpose of the regional HDRs and explore options to strengthen the contribution of the reports. The regional HDRs should not publish thematic reports unless there is something significant to talk about. It is imperative that the reports have a strong human development perspective.
7 The subregional scope of the regional HDRs proved to be a useful approach both to cover issues that are specific to a few countries or subregion and also provide in-depth analysis. This approach should be thought through and adequately strategized for a greater impact of regional HDRs.
8 UNDP should take adequate measures to enhance the influence of regional HDRs on regional and national policy processes.
1. Recommendation: Given the positive reputation, the global HDRs have the potential to keep human development on the agenda of public debate and policy process. The time is ideal to re-launch the idea of human development much more strategically, and help UNDP regain the intellectual space in the global development discourse that it once commanded. It is also recommended to address factors causing damage to the reputation of the report and its contribution. Management response: UNDP welcomes this recommendation
Management Response:

UNDP welcomes this recommendation and agrees that the time has come to revisit the human development paradigm in terms of concepts and measurements to ensure the thought leadership of UNDP. UNDP will initiate discussions with leading scholars in this field and commission analytical papers on rethinking human development.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
1.1 Discussion with leading scholars on human development (e.g., Nobel Laureates Prof. Amartya Sen, Prof. Joe Stiglitz, Prof. James Meade) as well as other academics and researchers in various regions of the world HDRO 2016/03 Completed Successfully done through Advisory Panel meetings in New York and through continued bilateral discussions throughout the year. Leading scholars with whom discussions were held included Nobel Luareate Prof. Amartya Sen, Prof. Sudhir Anand, Prof. Diane Elson, Prof. Ravi Kanbur, Prof. Heba Handoussa, Prof. Ella Libanova, Prof. Andrea Cornia, Prof. Justin Lin, Prof. Frances Stewart, Prof. Leticia Merino, Dr. Magdalena Sepulveda Carmona, among others.
1.2 Proposing the theme of HDR 2016 (the 25th HDR) as 'Human Development Revisited: Concepts and Measurements' HDRO 2015/09 Completed
1.3 Commissioning analytical papers and in-house research on rethinking human development HDRO, Bureau for Policy and Programme Support (BPPS) 2016/03 Completed Analytical papers on such themes as the capability approach (Prof. Siddiq Osmani), the linkages between ineqilaities and Human development (Prof. Andrea Cornia), horizontal inequality as it adds new dimension to human devlopment (Prof. Frances Stewart), other approaches to human well-being (Prof. Paul Anand), human development in a globalized world (Prof. Stephany Griffith Jones) contributed to expanding the frontiers of thinking on the human development framework. Inhouse research on barriers to universal human development, how human development for everyone requires focusing on some aspects of the analytical framework as well as the assessement perspectives of it, and the analytical linkages between human development and the 2030 Agenda as well as the SDGs also contributed to rethinking of human development.
1.4 Global Forum on Rethinking Human Development HDRO, BPPS, Bureau for External Relations and Advocacy, regional bureaux 2018/12 Initiated While advanced planning took place with the Govt of Sweden, external events (e.g. refugee crisis) have prevented the organization of Forum as envisioned. Alternative options are still continued to be pursued
2. Recommendation: UNDP should revisit the purpose of human development indices and examine their value added to the messages of the reports. Given the computation and data issues, HDRO should not proliferate the report with composite indices which have limited value.
Management Response:

UNDP management acknowledges that the robustness, relevance and value added of different composite indices need to be reexamined. UNDP will address this through discussions with renowned experts in this field.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
2.1 Brainstorming with experts and statisticians and in-house discussions in the context of various regions HDRO 2016/07 Completed Substantive discussions were held with the Statsitical Advisory Panel (which included such prominenet statisticians as Haishan Fu, Enrico Giovanni, Janet Gornick, Robert Kirkpatrick, among others), in New York. Brainstorming meetings took place with leading thinkers on measurements like Sabine Alkaire, Kenneth Haartgen, Gisela Robles Aguilar, Nicholas Fasel. Bilateral meetings were pursued on statistical issues, during the UN Statistical Commission meeting, with heads of National Statistical Offices from Cuba, Nigeria, UAE, Uzbekistan and Senegal in the context of various regions.
2.2 Roundtable on gender-related composite indices with academics, researchers and experts HDRO, BPPS 2015/09 Completed
2.3 Active engagements with the Data Revolution initiative HDRO 2015/09 Completed
3. Recommendation: There have been efforts by the HDRO in the past years to address various criticisms related to methodology of the HDI, and there have been revisions to the index. While such efforts are important, they are not sufficient to address the fundamental limitations of the index. To be able to achieve greater policy and analytical influence, consider reconstructing the HDI following a thorough review.
Management Response:

UNDP management appreciates the recognition of past efforts, and recognizes the need for a review and revision of the HDI to reflect the changed realities of the development scenarios of the world. A review paper will be commissioned on the HDI and will be discussed at the Global Forum on Rethinking Human Development.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
3.1 A review paper on the HDI by an eminent human development thinker with strong quantitative skills HDRO 2017/03 Initiated Initiated during the last quarter of 2016, Prof. Stephan Klasen, a leading thinker on human development measurements including composite indices and measuring gender equality, has started the task of writing a review paper, taking a historical perspective. The draft will be available by March 2017
3.2 Global Forum on Rethinking Human Development HDRO 2018/12 Initiated While advanced planning took place with the Govt of Sweden, external events (e.g. refugee crisis) have prevented the organization of Forum as envisioned. Alternative options are still continued to be pursued
3.3 Analytical paper on HDI with new realities HDRO 2017/03 Initiated The work was initiated in October 2016. Prof. Sudhir Anand, a substnative collaborator to Nobel Laureate Prof. Amartya Sen on the HDI, is contributing an analytical & methodological paper onthe HDI under the advice and guidnace of Prof. Sen and the paper will be completed by March 2017.
4. Recommendation: UNDP should take adequate measures to enhance the influence of the global HDRs on public policy process. The role of UNDP programme units is extremely important in achieving this.
Management Response:

UNDP management takes note of the recommendation and will undertake specific efforts to promote and disseminate key messages of the global HDRs.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
4.1 Ensure extensive consultation between senior management of UNDP country offices and HDRO throughout the process of preparation of HDRs. Regional Bureaux No due date No deadline established
4.2 Following completion of each HDR, develop and disseminate corporate policy brief on the key messages that the various programme units should pursue. Regional Bureaux, BPPS No due date No deadline established
4.3 Provide advisory support to UNDP country offices in launching the global HDRs and exploring innovative processes to disseminate key messages. Regional Bureaux, BPPS, HDRO No due date Initiated HDRO provides advisory services for every global HDR launch through press kits, media briefs, regional briefs, country profiles, statistical briefs, frequently asked questions and answers, power point presentations, briefing for ASGs who would be launching, webinar with Country Office colleagues and so on
5. Recommendation: The management of the global HDRs needs to be adequately strengthened to provide a stable environment for report preparation and to enhance the reputation of the reports.
Management Response:

UNDP management takes note of the need for strengthened management of the HDR processes, and confirms that the organizational structure of HDRO has been streamlined and simplified with clear scope of work and accountability framework, and the HDRO management team has been newly established with clear roles and responsibilities: ? A new Director with expertise in human development, historical substantive engagements with nine HDRs and institutional memory has been appointed (appointment was made in September 2014); ? A team leader with substantive analytical capabilities and extensive management experience has been recruited (recruitment took place in December 2014); ? The HDRO management team has been strengthened with clear responsibilities, mutually synergetic tasks and complementary roles for the Director and Deputy Director (these actions were completed in October 2014); ? The organization structure of HDRO has been streamlined and simplified with clear scope of work and accountability framework (the structure was streamlined in December 2014).

Key Actions:

6. Recommendation: UNDP should revisit the purpose of the regional HDRs and explore options to strengthen the contribution of the reports. The regional HDRs should not publish thematic reports unless there is something significant to talk about. It is imperative that the reports have a strong human development perspective.
Management Response:

UNDP management concurs with the recommendation to revisit the overall purpose of the regional HDRs and consider the options for strengthening their contributions. UNDP management agrees that the thematic focus of regional HDRs should be driven by demand and supported by the process of consultations on the themes for greater use and impact. Regional priorities often differ from global priorities. Experience to date confirms that thematic regional HDRs served to stimulate discourse and inform policy and programming at national, regional and continental levels. These reports consistently had been framed around thematic areas pertinent to regional dialogues and firmly anchored in a human development perspective. The themes for the regional HDRs were chosen based on country-level consultations. The regional HDRs were used as an analytical and advocacy tool to promote the human development agenda as part of the Regional Programme, consistent with the priorities expressed in the strategic plan. Moreover, the human development lens and impartiality of the reports have been effectively used by UNDP to raise highly sensitive matters that few other credible policy actors were able to raise. These reports effectively focused on significant and distinctive cross-boundary and regional issues, highlighting the need for the regional public goods to address these issues, and serving as a convening power around issues of common concern. Regional HDRs aimed to enhance the development debate and actions to prioritize eradication of poverty, inequality, and exclusion. The proposed themes will be carefully selected based on regional needs to enhance the contribution of these reports while ensuring a strong human development perspective in the analysis. Building on the lessons learned from previous evaluations, experience from the previous report and feedback from stakeholders, the process for developing the regional HDRs will be further enhanced.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
6.1 Ensure that standardized processes are implemented by UNDP in conducting systemic and inclusive consultations on the relevance and significance of the themes of the regional HDRs. Regional Bureaux No due date No deadline established
6.2 Robust communication and outreach plan implemented to engage various stakeholders in the development of the report and monitor its use. Regional Bureaux No due date No deadline established
7. Recommendation: The subregional scope of the regional HDRs proved to be a useful approach both to cover issues that are specific to a few countries or subregion and also provide in-depth analysis. This approach should be thought through and adequately strategized for a greater impact of regional HDRs.
Management Response:

UNDP management concurs with the recommendation and underscores that a measure of subregional analysis is an important way to enhance relevance. UNDP has consistently framed a good deal of analysis around subregional groupings, which has helped to solidify relevance and uncover key points of regional development diversity. Several ongoing subregional initiatives covering the Sahel, Horn of Africa and the Great Lakes will capitalize on these opportunities to produce specific analysis without subsuming the regional nature of the HDR and its intended audience.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
7.1 Whenever appropriate and feasible, regional Human Development Reports will be supplemented by in-depth subregional-level analysis Regional Bureaux No due date No deadline established
8. Recommendation: UNDP should take adequate measures to enhance the influence of regional HDRs on regional and national policy processes.
Management Response:

UNDP management agrees with the recommendation that confirms the central objective of regional HDRs to enhance their influence on regional and national policy. UNDP has consistently complemented regional launches with national launches and/or policy workshops intended to bring together key national stakeholders to unpack the regional analysis and develop policy insights tailored to the national level. UNDP will continue to do so and scale up relevant best practices as needed. For example, to enhance the impact of regional HDRs at the national level, operational programme guidance notes were prepared for country offices for operationalizing HDR recommendations (e.g., by Regional Bureau for Asia and the Pacific immediately after the launch of two most recent regional HDRs in that region). Concrete measures and initiatives include establishment of regional gender and climate change fund (immediately after the launch of regional HDRs on these themes in the Asia-Pacific region) to operationalize HDRs recommendations. Before and after preparation of HDRs, the regional bureaux organized multi-stakeholder consultations and policy symposiums, and provided financial support to country offices for translating HDRs into local languages and for launching HDRs at the national level. In response to the evaluation's findings and recommendations, the regional bureaux will further review and improve the current process of conceptualizing, preparing and following up the regional HDRs, building on its strong representation in the region including the regional service centres and network of advisors, in the context of further enhancing the influence on regional and national policy processes and UNDP programming.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
8.1 Design and implement an outreach strategy that engages country offices and regional service centres in dissemination and follow up of impact of the HDRs. Regional Bureaux, BPPS No due date No deadline established

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