Within the project “Evaluation as a basis for making informed public policies in Serbia”, funded by Eval Partners, the Informal Network of Evaluators of Serbia (INES) and SeConS Development Initiative Group organized a training webinar “Towards effective evaluation of sustainable development goals in Serbia”. The central topic of discussion was the invaluable role of evaluation in achieving the goals of sustainable development, and concrete actions to be taken to improve the capacity to effectively assess the achievement of the goals of sustainable development in Serbia.
Raising awareness of the importance of thinking about evaluation and developing the capacity of local actors for evaluation are necessary steps towards the effective implementation of sustainable development goals. The first step in this process is to understand the potential benefits that could be achieved from the evaluation results. This process is not easy, as capacity building as well as the development of strong national assessment systems require significant investment, while the benefits are considered uncertain and long-term. Ever since the adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in 2015, Serbia started developing mechanisms to achieve the goals of sustainable development. An institutional framework has been established, which includes the establishment of an Interdepartmental Working Group for the Implementation of the UN Agenda 2030 (2015) and a Focus Group of the National Assembly of the Republic of Serbia in charge of monitoring the achievement of goals (2017). In this context, the web platform DevInfo, developed by the Statistical Office of the Republic of Serbia, was an important step that enabled the monitoring of the implementation of SDGs. Currently, 98 of the 245 indicators are being monitored. The analysis conducted by the Secretariat for Public Policies of the Republic of Serbia showed that the level of harmonization of local policies with the sustainable development goals is solid. A higher level of compliance could be expected after the adoption of the Integrated Development Strategy envisaged by the Law on the Planning System. Despite the significant steps taken in recent years, it should be noted that the capacity to implement the SDG and a credible assessment of the SDG remain low. As stated in the Progress Report on the Implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals, it was suggested that country-specific goals are not defined in Serbia, which implies that measurement in relation to quantitative goals is not possible. The lack of available data is also an important barrier to monitoring and evaluation, and also poses a challenge for researchers interested in SDG-related issues. Finally, capacity building of local government will be an ongoing process that will require patient and dedicated work.
The aim of this event was to highlight the most important issues facing Serbia in the context of evaluating sustainable development goals, by combining current knowledge gained through monitoring and synthesized in the Progress Report, and important lessons and technical recommendations obtained in other countries, which should be considered in the years to come.
The participants of the webinar were the Informal Network of Evaluators of Serbia – INES, Kasseem El-Sadik, Vice President of EVALSDG, Marco Segone, Director of the UNFPA Evaluation Office and former President of the UN Evaluation Group (UNEG) as well as the founder/former Vice President of Eval Partners, Dragana Đoković Papić from the Statistical Office of the Republic of Serbia, Marija Babović from the Faculty of Philosophy, University of Belgrade and SeConS Development Initiative Group, Stefano D’Errico, Head of Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning, IIED.