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    The Evaluation Division of the European Investment Bank convened a high-level conference on Picking up the pace: Evaluation in a rapidly changing world on 6 March, 2023 at the EIB headquarters in Luxembourg.

    It brought together around 200 in-person and online participants from the European and international evaluation community, as well as practitioners from international finance institutions and multilateral organisations, to discuss the changing landscape of evaluation and how institutions can learn from the past to better prepare for an uncertain future.

    Building on futures thinking and strategic foresight, the conference opened with a reflection on how institutions are adjusting to the uncertain and rapidly changing environment in which they operate, and how evaluation functions can contribute to this process. It emphasised the importance for organisations to envision multiple futures to become more adaptable and resilient. Participants discussed how evaluation functions can integrate strategic foresight and futures thinking in their work to contribute to strategic decision-making.

    The conference included a session on the mobilisation of private capital to address global challenges. It addressed some of the challenges and opportunities the international community faces in mobilising private capital to meet ambitious global objectives, such as climate action, as well as to support the global economy in times of crises.

    Technical sessions allowed evaluation practitioners to share lessons learnt and tips on how to use new tools in evaluations, in particular satellite imagery and text mining.

    In a session on evaluation in times of uncertainty, participants shared their experiences in providing just-in-time evaluation insights through evaluations of their institutions’ responses to different types of crises, including the COVID-19 pandemic, the war in Ukraine, and the climate and environmental crisis.

    The conference concluded with a fireside chat reflecting on the discussions of the day and the value of evaluation insights in a fast-paced world. It highlighted some of the changes evaluation functions should consider going forward to remain relevant, credible and useful.

    Participant voices

    “I liked in particular: 

    1) The attempt of connecting the dots between foresight and evaluation 

    2) The importance of formative evaluation and what better methods and methodologies we can develop for those. […]”

    “It had a good combination of learning from the past with a view towards innovation.”

    “I liked most the very open discussions among practitioners and the appetite to challenge existing practices.”

    “The breakout session on text mining was extremely clear considering the difficult topic, followed by the session on Hindsight and Foresight, that broadened my views of the evaluation scope.”