Michael Gajo (Deputy Director of the Evaluation Department at Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit, GIZ) opened the conference by sharing some general ideas about complexity and systemic approaches in evaluation. As GIZ provides services to its partners in highly complex and dynamic environments, dealing with complexity in decision-making, project management and evaluation is highly relevant. On a humorous note, he stressed that complexity cannot be 'avoided' and explained that it is important to try to understand interdependencies, acknowledge the multi-dimensionality of societal change and deal with insecurity ⤓ in short, to think systemically.
At the end of his speech, he summed up the main aims of the conference: to learn from experience, to promote the discussion of systemic approaches in evaluation, but also to check whether they live up to their promise of considering complexity.
In her welcome speech, Michaela Zintl (Head of Division for Evaluation of Development Cooperation; Auditing, BMZ) stressed the importance of evaluations from a political point of view: In an era in which development cooperation is being challenged from various sides, it is crucial to clearly show its impact by conducting methodologically sound evaluations.
Dirk Niebel, Federal Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development, has declared the improvement of aid effectiveness and efficiency a top priority of the ministry's work. In this context, independent and external evaluations are to play an important role in assessing results and enhancing learning.
Ms Zintl encouraged the audience to help improve assessment of the development outcomes of aid and enhance the quality of evaluations and, ultimately, of development cooperation, by discussing diverse evaluation methodologies. Emphasizing that the choice of a methodology must be based on its appropriateness, she invited participants to share ideas about systemic approaches in evaluation.