The Secretary-General proposed in his 2018 report to the General Assembly on “Repositioning the United Nations development system to deliver on the 2030 Agenda: our promise for dignity, prosperity and peace on a healthy planet”, to establish an independent system-wide evaluation function, with the overall objective to enable and strengthen the continual enhancement of the UN development system’s contribution to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.
General Assembly resolution 72/279 ‘welcomed the strengthening of independent system-wide evaluation measures by the Secretary-General, including improving existing capacities”. Increasing collaboration on, and the quality and utility of joint and independent system-wide evaluations are also core commitments of UNSDG entities as set out in the Funding Compact between the UNSDG and Member States to support funding of the UN sustainable Development system.
Following in-depth consultation including with the UN evaluation group (UNEG), the Joint Inspectors Unit (JIU) and the Office of Internal Oversight services (OIOS), the 2020 Secretary-General report on the implementation of the quadrennial comprehensive policy review of operational activities for development (QCPR) further detailed the Secretary-General’s approach, including the establishment of the United Nations Sustainable Development Group (UNSDG) System-Wide Evaluation Office.
The purpose of the UNSDG System-Wide Evaluation Office is to strengthen oversight, transparency, and accountability, to incentivize joint work and collective learning among the United Nations development system entities, and to conduct and advance system-wide evaluative evidence on the United Nations development system contribution towards implementing the 2030 Agenda.
The System-Wide Evaluation Office is complementary to the mandates and functions of the Joint Inspection Unit, the Office of Internal Oversight Services and the independent evaluation offices of UN development system entities. While OIOS provides oversight to the Development Coordination Office, established in the UN Secretariat, and the evaluation offices of UN entities provide oversight of UN entities at the country, regional and global levels, neither are mandated to assess collective results across the UN development system.
As such, the Office will fill in internal learning and accountability gaps, thereby strengthening the internal oversight system, in line with the JIU objective, as the external oversight body, to “support the development of the internal evaluation function in meeting the demands of global changes and challenges and of the 2030 Agenda”.
The 2021 report of the Secretary-General also notes that the System-Wide Evaluation Office will be a stand-alone office led at the Director level, and that the incumbent will report to the Secretary-General for full independence. Operating with full freedom to perform its functions, the office will have the prerogative to share reports with the Economic and Social Council. The director has the authority and discretion to submit reports at the appropriate level of decision-making in the UN development system. The office will collaborate closely with the UN Development Coordination Office to ensure direct access to the UNSDG, the Regional Collaborative Platforms and UN country teams in the context of the evaluations of the Cooperation Frameworks. The Director reports to the Secretary-General.