Learning, networking, sharing all in one place: the wonders of Communities of Practice

This blog was written by Malac Kabir (Facilitator of Earth-Eval), Global Environment Facility (GEF) and Renata Mirulla (Facilitator of Evalforward), Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).

Pictured (Left to Right): Anne-Claire Luzot, WFP; Oscar Garcia, IFAD; Malac Kabir, Earth-Eval; Renata Mirulla, EvalForward; and Juha Uitto, GEF.

The communities of practice Earth-Eval (hosted by the GEF Independent Evaluation Office) and EvalForward (hosted by the evaluation offices of FAO, IFAD and WFP) presented at the 2019 IDEAS Global Assembly and Third International Conference on Evaluating Environment and Development in Prague this past October. At this joint conference, there were over 200 attendees at all levels. For the CoPs of Earth-Eval and EvalForward, it was an opportunity to network, gather information on the latest evaluation trends and methods, discuss areas of much needed attention, and learn essentially how we can do better as an evaluation community overall. Earth-Eval and EvalForward are platforms that encourage continuing the dialogue beyond the conferences and other similar events. The two CoPs believe knowledge sharing is important to advance good evaluation practice and awareness, taking the conversations from face-to-face to the virtual sphere.   

CoPs have many roles but what are some of the key ones for Earth-Eval and EvalForward? One of the ways CoPs can help members is to find solutions to pressing issues (such as ‘how do we make projects more sustainable?’). There is a plethora of information available, which can be overwhelming to navigate. Sometimes it is shared publicly on the web, sometimes it is not. However, for CoPs, we try to have this information handy, and this typically comes from our members. We have networks of people that are linked to M&E at all levels with environment and development expertise. In particular, for EvalForward, a mailing list and discussion board where you can ask freely a question and get answers right away is available for members. For Earth-Eval, one of the channels is through our face-to-face conferences. If you need more immediate answers, Earth-Eval also has a LinkedIn discussion group and twitter.

Another benefit of CoPs is on providing you an opportunity to give visibility to your work. For EvalForward, a recent online discussion on youth in agriculture allowed members to showcase their evaluation results and this contributes to build the knowledge on what works and not in engaging young people in the sector. For Earth-Eval, this visibility can be promoted through writing blogs on your recent work or disseminated through social media channels. CoPs can also promote good practice. For EvalForward, one of the ways this was demonstrated was through a recent blog and video on an innovative approach piloted by WFP Colombia which was about involving rural communities in the evaluation using drawings, something that can inspire other evaluators working with communities. For Earth-Eval, publications stemming from findings of past conferences, and guidelines or good practice studies on particular subject matter are available. For example, the book Evaluating Climate Change Action for Sustainable Development builds upon a selection of relevant and practical papers stemming from the Second International Conference held in 2014. Lastly, CoPs can be an excellent tool to network and find opportunities to collaborate with others both personally and professionally.

Feel free to reach out to either CoP at info@evalforward.org and eartheval@gmail.com to see how you can participate. Membership is free.

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About Earth-Eval: A community of practice focused on environmental evaluations and development. Become a member!

About EvalForward: A community of practice focused on evaluation for food security, agriculture and rural development. Become a member!

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