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Experts calling for new ways of doing development more effectively

Development experts will meet in Mexico to debate lessons learned from evaluations over the past five years

CUERNAVACA, Mexico – The city of Cuernavaca will be the center of discussions on using evidence to find effective solutions to critical development problems. From June 15 to17, over 400 policymakers, practitioners and researchers mainly from Latin America, as well as Africa and Asia, will be tackling some hard questions to turn evidence into policy change. This is the first time this international event is taking place in Latin America.

The conference "Mind the Gap: From Evidence to Policy Impact", will highlight cases from across the world where impact evaluations have provided evidence to scale up or modify existing programs. In Mexico, a recent evaluation found that replacing dirt floors of houses with cement floors reduced the incidence of diarrhea by half and anemia by over 80 percent, which in turn significantly improved children’s learning ability. The strong evidence in this case resulted in the scaling-up of Mexico’s flagship programme Piso Firme “Firm Floor” that offers concrete cement flooring to poor families. This is just one example of how evidence can improve people’s well-being.

“Much development money has been spent poorly in the past and we still have plenty to learn. We now have the tools available to find out what policies and programs work and why, and should stop experimenting on people’s lives by implementing policies with unproven track records. Impact evaluations are a bit like a traffic light system that can signal whether and why the policy has been effective and help regulate the flow of funding,” said 3ie Deputy Director, Marie Gaarder. “This conference offers the opportunity to renew Governments’ and Development practitioners’ commitment to results and set evaluation priorities for the future,” she added.

The plenary sessions feature leading experts including economist Esther Duflo, Paul Gertler and Guido Imbens, as well as policymakers like the Chilean Minister of Planning Felipe Kast and the head of the evaluation council in Mexico CONEVAL, Gonzalo Hernández-Licona. It also offers a wide range of pre-conference hands-on-clinics so that participants can learn and apply new methods and tools.

"Mexico has been at the forefront of using solid evidence for public policy. It was one of the first countries to introduce mandatory evaluations for all its social programs. An important milestone was the evaluation of its flagship conditional cash transfer program Oportunidades. This evaluation provided clear evidence that the program was successful in reducing children’s malnutrition rates and increasing boys’ and girls’ enrolment in secondary school, and contributed to its scaling up. Over 5 million families are now benefiting from the intervention. It is therefore particularly significant that this important event takes place in a champion country like Mexico”, says Gustavo Angeles Tagliaferro, Director of the Center for Evaluation Research and Surveys at INSP.

“Impact evaluation and development effectiveness have become one of the top priorities of the IDB’s work. This event provides a unique opportunity to share what we have learned and showcase how Latin American and Caribbean countries progress toward a development agenda that produces measurable results. We are committed to make an effective contribution to the region’s growth and be accountable for it,” said Koldo Echebarría, Manager of the Office of Strategic Planning and Development Effectiveness.

The conference is organized by the International Initiative for Impact Evaluation (3ie) in partnership with the National Institute of Public Health of Mexico (INSP), the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), Australian Agency for Development Assistance (AusAID), International Development Research Center (IDRC), The World Bank (WB) and the Center for Labor and social Distributive Studies in coordination with the Impact Evaluation Network (CEDLAS-IEN).

Suggested times for the media:

Opening plenary followed by press conference featuring Ruth Levine (Hewlett Foundation), Gonzalo Hernández Licona (CONEVAL), Paul Gertler (3ie/UCB), Gustavo Angeles (INSP), Koldo Echebarría (IDB) and Marie Gaarder (3ie)

Where:  Seminar Room, INSP campus, Cuernavaca, Mexico
When:   Thursday, June 16
              Open plenary (9:15 a.m. – 10:45 a.m.) 
              Press conference (11:00 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.) followed by lunch
              Friday, June 17
              Closing plenary (16:45 p.m. – 18:15 p.m.)

If you have any questions or would like to coordinate an interview, please contact the press officers listed on the right.

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