Summary Report - CECAN International Symposium on Complexity Approaches to Evaluate Global Nexus Policy Challenges

CECAN International Symposium


On the 9th and 10th November 2017 CECAN proudly hosted a two-day International Symposium at Barnett Hill in Surrey, UK. The event was part of the Economic Social Research Council (ESRC) Festival of Social Science and brought together national and international academics, practitioners and policymakers involved in policy evaluation to explore how complexity approaches can and are being used to evaluate and reframe policies in the nexus.


The Symposium offered a unique opportunity for key figures in the international evaluation community to come together and share their expertise and experiences whilst highlighting some of the latest methodological insights, best practice, and evaluation approaches for addressing complex nexus issues.


CECAN Webinar: Evaluating Policy for Food Security – Before and After Implementation.

CECAN Webinar: Evaluating Policy for Food Security – Before and After Implementation.

Our warmest thanks go to Dr Martine Barons of Warwick University who kindly gave up her time on 4th May to give a webinar on evaluating policy for food security.
Household food security is a classic complex system.  Countries that are food secure when viewed at country-scale may nevertheless have considerable food security problems at household scale.  Furthermore, local government wishing to design policies to ameliorate food insecurity and poverty for its citizens may find that their administrative boundaries cut across social boundaries and the areas covered by agencies required to collaborate may be misaligned.
In order to provide decision support of local government, we have developed a method that networks together relevant data sources, models and expert opinions to evaluate candidate policies’ relative effectiveness before implementation.  The hard thinking required by stakeholders to fully populate this integrating decision support system and use it to compare and them select policies, can be leveraged to guide interim and end-

CECAN Seminar on Mixed Methods Evaluation, using QCA and NVIVO with Wendy Olsen

How evaluation in the SDG era can mislead, and what to do about it

We were delighted to welcome Wendy Olsen to give a CECAN seminar last week 'Mixed Methods Evaluation, using QCA and NVIVO'.

In development studies, one wants an evaluation team to face up to the challenge of combining surveys with semi-structured interview data.  In this seminar, Wendy explained and demonstrated how these linkages are made with concrete data about villages in Bangladesh and India. The problem is that complex data can overwhelm the interpreting team. The solutions offered by Wendy are methodologically sound.

CECAN Seminar with Zenda Ofir

How evaluation in the SDG era can mislead, and what to do about it

We were thrilled to welcome Zenda Ofir to give a CECAN seminar in February 'How evaluation in the SDG era can mislead, and what to do about it.'

Professionals in evaluation pay a lot of attention to how to evaluate. We are less thoughtful about exactly what to evaluate, why, and how we define ‘success’. Stakeholders’ interests and questions tend to determine what will be useful to focus on at a particular point in time. Or we use a predetermined set of criteria, usually the so-called DAC criteria - relevance, efficiency, effectiveness, impact and sustainability - to direct and focus evaluations. Yet this widely accepted practice can prompt us to neglect important issues that should be on our agenda if we are serious about the role of evaluation in supporting sustainable development, and understanding whether we are on track to achieve the SDGs. Failure to focus our evaluations appropriately can lull us into dangerous complacency about accomplishment and success.