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

Report Cover Image
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

Share

Document Type Language Size Status Downloads
Download document HDR-Evaluation-Concept-Note-2014.pdf related-document English 411.43 KB Posted 872
Download document HDR_Thematic_Evaluation_2014.pdf report English 4819.60 KB Posted 2190
Download document HDR-Illustrated_Summary_2014.pdf summary English 4162.42 KB Posted 762
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 Outcome and Output (UNDP Strategic Plan 2014-2017)
Evaluation Budget(US $): 350,000
Source of Funding:
Joint Programme: 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: [Added: 2015/06/26] [Last Updated: 2015/06/26]

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
[Added: 2015/06/29] [Last Updated: 2017/01/31]
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. History
1.2 Proposing the theme of HDR 2016 (the 25th HDR) as 'Human Development Revisited: Concepts and Measurements'
[Added: 2015/06/29] [Last Updated: 2016/01/12]
HDRO 2015/09 Completed
1.3 Commissioning analytical papers and in-house research on rethinking human development
[Added: 2015/06/29] [Last Updated: 2017/01/31]
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. History
1.4 Global Forum on Rethinking Human Development
[Added: 2015/06/29] [Last Updated: 2019/04/22]
HDRO, BPPS, Bureau for External Relations and Advocacy, regional bureaux 2019/03 No Longer Applicable [Justification: Since 1990, the Human Development Report has been a flagship product that UNDP offered to the world, spawning hundreds of national and regional human development reports that gave new life to the human development concept, highlighting critical issues of our time like migration, youth, and climate change. In 2020, UNDP will bring out 30th year anniversary edition of the human development report. The 30th Anniversary is a time to take stock, reflect and move forward. As part of the preparation of 30th year anniversary report, UNDP is planning to organize a series of human development symposiums and consultations to re articulate the concept of human development. Moreover, as part of UNDP’s commitment to the UN Secretary-General’s reform, and to strengthen its leadership on cutting-edge thinking and policy advice, UNDP is reinvesting in the human development approach, and reinvigorating global, regional, and national human development reports in the context of the SDGs. There are new challenges to human development, especially inequality and sustainability, that require concerted measurement and analytical attention. There is the possibility of new partnerships growing out of the agreement of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Technologies are introducing new ways of communicating key report messages. In this context, recently UNDP reset its thought leadership priorities which include: (i) preparations of new generations of HDRs and Indices taking into consideration of changing development landscape and availability of new data including big data; (ii) revitalizing the network of regional and national HDRs, connecting regional and national reports with the global HDR and finding synergies; and (iii) positioning HDRO (and UNDP) as an exciting hub/centre for research and innovation through strategic partnerships with relevant academic institutions and research labs. In line with the central premise of the 2030 agenda of leaving no one behind, UNDP is also recently decided to prepare its 2019 human development report on the theme of inequality. Given these new priorities, direction and development, the promise of organizing a global forum on rethinking human development as part of management response to 2015 HDRs evaluation is no longer relevant. Therefore the pending action on the global forum on rethinking human developments is closed. HDRO will provide an update regularly on outcome of these new set of activities through the management commentaries to the annual report on evaluation.]
History
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: [Added: 2015/06/26] [Last Updated: 2015/06/29]

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
[Added: 2015/06/29] [Last Updated: 2017/01/31]
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. History
2.2 Roundtable on gender-related composite indices with academics, researchers and experts
[Added: 2015/06/29] [Last Updated: 2016/01/14]
HDRO, BPPS 2015/09 Completed
2.3 Active engagements with the Data Revolution initiative
[Added: 2015/06/29] [Last Updated: 2016/01/12]
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: [Added: 2015/06/26] [Last Updated: 2015/06/29]

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
[Added: 2015/06/29] [Last Updated: 2018/01/09]
HDRO 2017/03 Completed 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 201801: Prof. Stephan Klasen, a leading thinker on human development measurements including composite indices and measuring gender equality, has produced a final review paper taking a historical perspective. As an substantive input, it has been contributing to the ongoing HDRO work on refining various human development measures. The paper is available in public domains including the HDRO website. History
3.2 Global Forum on Rethinking Human Development
[Added: 2015/06/29] [Last Updated: 2019/04/22]
HDRO 2019/12 No Longer Applicable [Justification: Since 1990, the Human Development Report has been a flagship product that UNDP offered to the world, spawning hundreds of national and regional human development reports that gave new life to the human development concept, highlighting critical issues of our time like migration, youth, and climate change. In 2020, UNDP will bring out 30th year anniversary edition of the human development report. The 30th Anniversary is a time to take stock, reflect and move forward. As part of the preparation of 30th year anniversary report, UNDP is planning to organize a series of human development symposiums and consultations to re articulate the concept of human development. Moreover, as part of UNDP’s commitment to the UN Secretary-General’s reform, and to strengthen its leadership on cutting-edge thinking and policy advice, UNDP is reinvesting in the human development approach, and reinvigorating global, regional, and national human development reports in the context of the SDGs. There are new challenges to human development, especially inequality and sustainability, that require concerted measurement and analytical attention. There is the possibility of new partnerships growing out of the agreement of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Technologies are introducing new ways of communicating key report messages. In this context, recently UNDP reset its thought leadership priorities which include: (i) preparations of new generations of HDRs and Indices taking into consideration of changing development landscape and availability of new data including big data; (ii) revitalizing the network of regional and national HDRs, connecting regional and national reports with the global HDR and finding synergies; and (iii) positioning HDRO (and UNDP) as an exciting hub/centre for research and innovation through strategic partnerships with relevant academic institutions and research labs. In line with the central premise of the 2030 agenda of leaving no one behind, UNDP is also recently decided to prepare its 2019 human development report on the theme of inequality. Given these new priorities, direction and development, the promise of organizing a global forum on rethinking human development as part of management response to 2015 HDRs evaluation is no longer relevant. Therefore, the pending action on the global forum on rethinking human developments has been closed. HDRO will provide an update regularly on outcome of these new set of activities through the management commentaries to the annual report on evaluation.]
History
3.3 Analytical paper on HDI with new realities
[Added: 2015/06/29] [Last Updated: 2018/01/09]
HDRO 2017/03 Completed 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. 201801: With the active guidance and advice from Nobel laureate Prof. Amartya Sen, Prof. Sudhir Anand, a substantive collaborator to Prof.Sen on the HDI, has completed a final paper on ‘Recasting Human Development Measures’, which critically evaluates all the human development composite indices and suggests alternative methodologies. The paper has been shared with leading thinkers on human development measurements for their feedbacks and comments. In March 2018, there will be a high-level expert group meeting to have a debate on various suggestions and decide on the refinements. The paper will be the substantive basis for further work on various human development composite indices for future HDRs. History
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: [Added: 2015/06/26] [Last Updated: 2015/06/29]

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.
[Added: 2015/06/29] [Last Updated: 2018/05/08]
Regional Bureaux 2017/12 Completed Extensive consultation is held between CO senior staff and HDRO in the preparation of HDRs. Completed and ongoing. RBAP: In the process of preparation of National HDRs, extensive consultation at the technical level is generally held between the COs and the Bangkok Regional Hub, as it is the hub which is the frontline service provider. However, the level of technical consultation and support varies by countries depending on demand from the COs. There was slack in CO demand for the services with the implementation of DPC approach since 2016. The HDR focal point in the BRH liaise with HDRO and COs technical staff for the support, especially on technical issues such as the measurement of human development and related indices and for the peer review of the report. Ensuring extensive and effective consultation including with the senior management requires an increased allocation of resources (human and financial) at various levels. History
4.2 Following completion of each HDR, develop and disseminate corporate policy brief on the key messages that the various programme units should pursue.
[Added: 2015/06/29] [Last Updated: 2018/05/08]
Regional Bureaux, BPPS 2016/12 Completed National and regional HDRs are prepared following UNDP corporate principles issued by the HDRO. Creating national ownership of the report (messages, findings and recommendations) is also one of the principles of the National HDR preparation. At the regional level, policy brief/action plan has been prepared for the previous HDRs. This requires a constant advocacy of the messages of the reports, however. Completed and ongoing. History
4.3 Provide advisory support to UNDP country offices in launching the global HDRs and exploring innovative processes to disseminate key messages.
[Added: 2015/06/29] [Last Updated: 2018/05/08]
Regional Bureaux, BPPS, HDRO 2016/12 Completed 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 History
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: [Added: 2015/06/26] [Last Updated: 2015/06/29]

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: [Added: 2015/06/26] [Last Updated: 2015/06/29]

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.
[Added: 2015/06/29] [Last Updated: 2019/04/22]
Regional Bureaux 2019/06 Completed In 2020, UNDP will bring out 30th year anniversary edition of the human development report. As part of UNDP’s commitment to the UN Secretary-General’s reform, and to strengthen its leadership on cutting-edge thinking and policy advice, UNDP is reinvesting in the human development approach, and reinvigorating global, regional, and national human development reports in the context of the SDGs. Recently UNDP reset its thought leadership priorities which include:revitalizing the network of regional and national HDRs, connecting regional and national reports with the global HDR and finding synergies. History
6.2 Robust communication and outreach plan implemented to engage various stakeholders in the development of the report and monitor its use.
[Added: 2015/06/29] [Last Updated: 2018/05/08]
Regional Bureaux 2015/12 Completed Completed For example UNDP RBAP and country offices rolled out an ambitious communications plan for the Regional Human Development Report 2016, with press coverage of the launch and findings in over 12 countries in the region, as well as video interviews with partners in government and policy, infographics, and a social media campaign. In addition to this, the Bureau has continued to use the report as a reference point for policy recommendations on a number of fronts relating to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Through the Bureau’s communications work, the report has been featured in senior management think-pieces in high-profile outlets such as the Nikkei Asian Review, DEVEX, World Economic Forum and numerous Asian media outlets. History
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: [Added: 2015/06/26] [Last Updated: 2015/06/29]

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
[Added: 2015/06/29] [Last Updated: 2019/04/22]
Regional Bureaux 2019/03 Completed This has been done as relevant and whenever possible. In 2020, UNDP will bring out 30th year anniversary edition of the human development report. As part of UNDP’s commitment to the UN Secretary-General’s reform, and to strengthen its leadership on cutting-edge thinking and policy advice, UNDP is reinvesting in the human development approach, and reinvigorating global, regional, and national human development reports in the context of the SDGs. Recently UNDP reset its thought leadership priorities which include:revitalizing the network of regional and national HDRs, connecting regional and national reports with the global HDR and finding synergies. History
8. Recommendation: UNDP should take adequate measures to enhance the influence of regional HDRs on regional and national policy processes.
Management Response: [Added: 2015/06/26] [Last Updated: 2015/06/29]

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.
[Added: 2015/06/29] [Last Updated: 2019/04/22]
Regional Bureaux, BPPS 2019/03 No Longer Applicable [Justification: As part of UNDP’s commitment to the UN Secretary-General’s reform, and to strengthen its leadership on cutting-edge thinking and policy advice, UNDP is reinvesting in the human development approach, and reinvigorating global, regional, and national human development reports in the context of the SDGs. Recently UNDP reset its thought leadership priorities which include:revitalizing the network of regional and national HDRs, connecting regional and national reports with the global HDR and finding synergies. Due to this new development the action is no longer considered relevant. ]
History

Latest Evaluations

Contact us

220 East 42nd Street
20th Floor
New York, NY 10017
Tel. +1 646 781 4200
Fax. +1 646 781 4213
erc.support@undp.org