The first meeting of regional network of policy evaluators from the Western Balkans (REMEVA) took place on Friday, the 27th September 2013, in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH; hotel Hollywood). The network consists of evaluation communities from BiH, Croatia, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Slovenia. The network already has some 170 members, along them some of the nations’ leading institutions in the field.
Evaluation Cooperation between Slovenia and Bosnia
Background of the project
The meeting was hosted and organised by Bosnia and Herzegovina (BHEVAL) in cooperation with the Slovenian Evaluation Society (Slovensko društvo evalvatorjev – SDE).
Idea for networking of regional evaluators has its roots in 2012 when SDE invited newly established BHEVAL, the second formally established evaluation in the region, for a meeting in October 2012 in Ljubljana, Slovenia. At the meeting SDE and BHEVAL have agreed a joint initiative to work towards establishing an informal network of evaluators in the region.
SDE and BHEVAL have jointly prepared a project proposal at the end of 2012 and submitted it to IOCE (International Organisation for Cooperation in Evaluation). IOCE has published a call under its P2P initiative. It aims to encourage formation of mutually beneficial partnerships between evaluation communities. The P2P Program is an integral part of the EvalPartners Initiative. The P2P program offers an innovative approach to strengthening evaluation capabilities by taking advantage of and maximizing capacities and experiences within the global community. The program encourages two or more evaluation communities to form partnerships with each other to help each other to strengthen their capacities to strengthen institutional capacities, to strengthen enabling environments for evaluation, to strengthened evaluation capacities and adopt principles of equity-focused and gender-responsive evaluation.
2. The project aims and planned activities
Project aims to transfer experiences of SDE to BHEVAL. SDE has been formally established in 2008 as a NGO and developed specific model of operation which can strengthen evaluation societies in the region throuhj regional cooperation. This model can be specified by its three orientations: towards research, towards nonprofessional evaluators and by its operation model which is administrativelly simple and cheap.
Experiences of SDE will be transferred with the following means:
1. Two regional meetings.
a. Meeting in September 2013 in Sarajevo (Bosnia and Herzegovina) which was accompanied with the workshop “Policy Impact Evaluation for Better Governance” with two main topics:
i. BES’ presentation of their experience with the translation of IPDET handbook and their short and long term views about evaluation in Bosnia and Herzegovina;
ii. SES’ presentation about meso evaluation and practical experiences obtained in Slovenia.
Networking event with a social event with opportunities for networking.
b. Meeting in February 2014 in Ljubljana will be led by SDE. It will consist of two parts. In the first part regional network will finalise and put to adoption a mission statement and rotating chairman/chairlady. Meeting will also adopt a program of work for 2014-2017. The second part will organise a Roundtable “Evaluation in the Region of former Yugoslavia” for local participants. The Roundtable will be concluded with social event aimed at networking between participants and evaluators and institutions from Slovenia.
2. Forum for regional evaluators will be established on the social network LinkedIn; editor of the forum will be appointed to stimulate a discussion and organise the process.
3. Exchange of information with regular regional newsletter for evaluators will be introduced.
4. E-mailing list of evaluators, members of the network will be established.
5. Achievements of the project will be reported nationally and presented to other evaluation societies in the region and beyond using existing communication chanels of two societies.
Project aims to accomplish its activities and achieve its goals horizontally with the means of networking – as an infrastructure and with establishing and intensifying communication between evaluation communities and evaluators in the region.
3. Project outputs and outcomes (June – September 2013)
After signing Grant Agreement with IOCE, SDE and BHEVAL have adopted an implementation plan for the first phase of the project between June and October 2013.
SDE has informed by e-mail more than 12.000 persons mainly from Slovenia, Croatia, and Serbia about compilation of regional e-list of evaluators. The invitations have been sent to universities, research institutions, public institutions, in particular to governmental institutions and administration bodies at the level of major cities and regional administrations as well as to civil society organisations. The invitations have been favourably accepted and positively responded by 170 persons (end of September 2013). In addition, almost 10 non-Slavic language speaking persons have applied for membership, so also an English sub-list has been established that will only operate in English language) – but at smaller frequency then the large list.
The first newsletter of the REMEVA has been disseminated on 3rd July 2013. Altogether, 5 newsletters have been sent out by the end of September 2013. Newsletters have published news about current activity of the REMEVA, and about evaluation communities in the member countries, about open tenders in the region (IPA/EU, Norway grant), and about activity of individual members.
One of immediate and rather unexpected results of network formation has been establishing a contact with evaluators in Croatia, Montenegro and Macedonia, where evaluation communities (even informal) still do not exist. SDE has reached an agreement with individual evaluators in Montenegro and Macedonia for initiating evaluation communities in their countries. Substantive exchange is achieved with Croatian evaluators on institutional level.
In the preparation of the meeting in Sarajevo, SDE has individually contacted more than 50 members of the network, mainly to present more in detail a purpose of the REMEVA and its plans. In addition, SDE informed about the preparation of the first regional meeting six national Embassies in Ljubljana, and personally approached Slovenian Embassy in Belgrade and Sarajevo, as well as Slovenian Ministry for foreign affairs. BHEVAL has additionally contacted and provided participation at the meeting of two federal ministries – for development programming and for employment.
Regional meeting has been attended by approximately 20 participants (see List of participants, below). Beside 5 members of project team from SDE and BHEVAL, also one representative from Serbia and one from Montenegro attended. These two participants have their costs of attendance covered by the project. Another 3 participants from Serbia attended on the meeting on a self-financed basis. All other participants were from Sarajevo, including official representative of the Federal Ministry for development programming (FMDP).
In the introductory part of the meeting, the project has been presented, the IOCE; the tender and the aims of the REMEVA. The representative of FMDP presented importance of evaluation in development programming. Then all participants presented themselves. Longer presentations were given by all four national representatives. The first part of the meeting has been concluded with discussion.
After the lunch, two presentations were given to the participants. In the first part, Rijad Kovač, BHEVAL, has presented translated guideline for evaluation IPDET (International Programme for Development Evaluation Training). In the second part, Bojan Radej discussed aggregation problem in evaluation and presented its resolution with the mesoscopic evaluation approach developed by SDE. Both presentations were followed by discussion.
Results of participants’ evaluation of the regional meeting are presented below (n=10). Participants’ assessment of the meeting (1-poor quality, 5-excelent): Benefit from the meeting (4,5) Quality of preparations (4,7), Quality of discussion (4,2), access to Overall satisfaction with the meeting (4,6/5).
In the second main part of the regional meeting, which has been attended only by national representatives of evaluation communities, six main conclusions have been adopted after discussion:
1. Regional network of policy evaluators from the Western Balkans (REMEVA) is established as an informal network.
2. We will continue shared efforts for further mobilisation of evaluators to join the REMEVA
3. Forum of REMEVA will be established at LinkedIn by SDE.
4. Administrator of the network is Bojan Radej, SDE. Until meeting in Ljubljana coordinator of the representatives of evaluation communities is Peter Medica, SDE.
5. REMEVA will meet again in Ljubljana, end of January / beginning of February 2014. Meeting in Ljubljana will:
a. Review realisation of conclusions from meeting in Sarajevo.
b. On the proposal of the representatives from Montenegro and BHEVAL we will discus and adopt a mission statement of REMEVA. BHEVAL will organise the collection of proposals from representatives and lead the discussion.
c. Reaffirm our continued efforts for the spread of the network in the region and abroad. In particular Metod Dolinšek will assess interest for involvement of evaluators from Kosovo.
d. Discuss membership of REMEVA into IOCE and NESE (Network of Evaluation Societies in Europe).
e. Set the guideline and work program of REMEVA for 2014-2015.
The concluding, third part of the meeting has been planed to achieve networking between local institutions’ representatives with regional evaluators and their representatives. Despite weak attendance of local representatives, the networking event has been effective in connecting BHEVAL’s plan to accomplish IPDET training in December 2013 in Sarajevo with the search for high quality evaluation support by Slovenian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, as reiterated by the Economic Attaché from Slovenian Embassy in Sarajevo – who attended the networking event. We have discussed a synergetic possibilities in this field and agreed that these possibilities will be further presented to Slovenian Ministry in Ljubljana by Metod Dolinšek, SDE.
Slovenian Evaluation Society (SDE), 5. X. 2013