Signing-up for the March for Science

18056736_1325941194126810_7354717257702260811_nThe Earth Day 2017 celebration coincided with the March for Science yesterday. And marched we did, along with thousands others. The crowd was a far cry from the mediocre turn up on the Earth Day rally I witnessed five years ago (when a right-wing media-watch organization also swiped my photos).

I had tentative plans of attending because it fell on a Saturday, and my weekends are sacred. and I’ve done my fair share of rallies even way back as an undergrad. But after my roommate invited me to an impromptu sign-making workshop at Artomatic, I didn’t want my sign- and training in science- be easily discarded and just go to waste. So yesterday afternoon, under DC’s grey and rainy skies, armed with our signs, umbrellas, and rain coats, off my roommate, her mom, and I went to the march. We knew it would be a wet day and we were prepared for it, because, science!

I’m still recovering from the past days’ activities. There’s another march scheduled next Saturday called the People’s Climate Movement. I’m still unsure if I’ll go, but here I am already brainstorming ideas for a sign.

March for Science Capitol

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How to help supertyphoon Haiyan/Yolanda victims

A few of my readers are based abroad. And if you’re one of them, you must have seen photos and footages on  TV and online how supertyphoon Haiyan (or ‘Yolanda’ in the local typhoon nomenclature) destroyed  cities and small towns in the islands in the center part of the Philippines. As I’ve done in the past, I am requesting imploring you to give cash donations. Cash is quick and easy to transfer. Here is a list of organizations and their respective bank account details where you can send your donations.

I know many of you are young professionals like me who are also trying to make ends meet. But even  a small amount can go a long way. According to Gawad Kalinga, a non-profit organization working on affordable house construction, a $5 donation can provide up to four to six meals for a family of five.

Thank you!

Attending the AEA Conference 2013

From tomorrow until Saturday (October 19), I’ll be attending the 27th Annual Evaluation Conference 2013 organized by the American Evaluation Association in Washington DC. To prepare I’ve been perusing the conference program which has over 875 sessions to choose from. But I will most likely use this SEA Change cheat sheet to attend environment and climate change-related presentations. I’ve also been updating my CV that I will give away to potential employers. The hunt continues.

If you cannot attend in-person and want to stay up-to-date with the goings-on in the conference, follow me via Twitter @jadz, or monitor #eval13. Hit me up if you’re attending the conference. See you there!

Bidding farewell to Climate-Eval

Today officially marks my last day at the GEF EO, and subsequently as moderator of the Climate-Eval community of practice. My two-year term came and went so quickly. In-between those two years, however, are some learning and insights worth highlighting in my final blog post as Climate-Eval Moderator.

I have a confession to make: I am not an evaluator. While I have worked with Climate-Eval members, a big number of whom are evaluators, I myself have never conducted an evaluation. Thus, I had to learn on the job. And learning about evaluation, as in any endeavor, has been challenging albeit rewarding. This has squarely complemented my previous country-level experience in project and policy analysis in the environment sector and climate change. Reviewing how national policies and programs could be designed to increase their success rate is complex enough. Yet understanding and determining whether they were indeed successful is not any easier. Climate change and its compounding issues of complexity and uncertainty pose challenges to this end.

Part of my work as moderator was to draft approach papers and manage research studies on how evaluations are being conducted and how they could be improved. This entailed rummaging through work of development cooperation agencies, think-tanks and academics on indicators, evaluation reports, and other related literature. As our community of practice progresses and has finished three studies looking at evaluation frameworks, guidelines and tools, it has become apparent that to come up with evaluation standards and norms, more work and collaboration with other networks and organizations is needed.

I applied for and took on this job primarily for two reasons. It involved work in the field of environment and climate change, and online media. While the internet facilitated online communication which proved very useful for Climate-Eval members who are dispersed all over the globe, this type of interaction still possesses some inherent limitations. Emails and webinars lacked the personal touch of face-to-face communication. During my official travels I had the fortune of attending, I finally met several of our members. This virtual to real exchange somehow became the model for getting to know and connecting with members beyond Skype calls and webinar discussions. I was an observer and participant to meaningful discussions that arose from this model. Upon meeting some members in person, virtual acquaintances gradually turn to personal connections.

We may have a lofty goal in our community to improve our knowledge and skills in conducting high-quality evaluations for climate change and development interventions, but it’s one that is necessary. It holds all of us accountable as actors for the work that we do, be they the introduction of energy efficient light bulbs or minimizing disastrous impacts of natural calamities.

As I write this, the search for the new moderator is still in progress. Yet I encourage everyone to continue the interesting discussions in our Linkedin Group and start interacting with the new moderator as soon as he or she takes on the role I’m leaving. As a new moderator comes on board, so will exciting developments in our community which we should all look forward to and engage in. I am bidding farewell as Climate-Eval Moderator, but I will remain a member of our community and look forward to its future pursuits.

This was originally posted on the Climate-Eval blog.

11 Sessions I Plan to Attend During the Evaluation Conclave 2013

I am cross-posting this from Climate-Eval blog, in case anyone chances upon reading this and will be attending the Evaluation Conclave 2013 in Kathmandu.

From 26 February to 1 March 2013, hundreds of evaluators will pilgrimage to Kathmandu, Nepal for the Evaluation Conclave 2013. The four-day congregation will consist of about 70 sessions on everything evaluation, from theories of change to outcome mapping. Six to seven presentations will occur simultaneously at any given time. With so many options to choose from, it’s easy to lose track of sessions which will cover topics on or related to climate change and development evaluation.

Below I am sharing my cheat sheet of the sessions I will most likely attend. This is in no way an endorsement of a particular presenter or and cannot vouch for the content of the sessions. Rather it is general guide of topics which are of interest to me and I generally find applicable to climate change.

Day 1 (Tuesday, February 26)

  1. Climate Change Adaptation M&E Time: 11:15 am to 12:45 pm, Location: Hall 4
  2. Introduction to Outcome Mapping, Day 1 Time: 1:45 pm to 3:15 pm, Location: Hall 4

Day 2 (Wednesday, February 27)

  1. Climate Change Mitigation M&E Time: 9:40 to 11:00 am, Location: Hall 6
  2. Achieving Use and Utilisation of Evaluation Time: 11:15 am to 12:45 pm, Location: Hall 1
  3. or Public Sector Evaluation Time: 11:15 am to 12:45 pm, Location: Hall 4
  4. Introduction to Outcome Mapping, Day 2 Time: 1:45 pm to 3:15 pm, Location: Hall 4
  5. Evaluation Learning Collaboratives: A Methodology for Improving the Quality of Monitoring and Evaluation Time: 1:45 pm to 3:15 pm, Location: Hall 2
  6. Expert Lecture: Why a Theory of Change Matters for Rigorous Impact Evaluation Time: 5:00 to 6:00 pm, Location: Hall 6

Day 3 (Thursday, February 28)

  1. Impact Evaluation: Theory and Practice, Day 1 Time: 9:40 to 11:00 am, Location: Hall 3
  2. or Equity and Resilience Time: 9:40 to 11:00 am, Location: Hall 4
  3. Climate Change M&E Knowledge Needs (disclaimer: I will be a facilitator in this session) Time: 1:45 to 3:15 pm, Location: Hall 2
  4. Systematic Reviews in International Development Time: 3:30 to 5:00 pm, Location: Hall 3

Day 4 (Friday, March 1)

  1. Impact Evaluation: Theory and Practice, Day 1 Time: 9:00 – 10:30 am, Location: Hall 3
  2. or Theories of Change Time: 9:00 – 10:30 am, Location: Hall 6

Have you decided which sessions you are going to attend? To download a pdf version of this document, please click here. To peruse the full agenda, please visit this page. If you are going to the Evaluation Conclave, I would be happy to meet you there. Email me at azubiri@thegef.org or climate-eval@climate-eval.org. See you in Kathmandu!

Andrew Zubiri is the Moderator of Climate-Eval community of practice hosted at the Global Environment Facility Evaluation Office.

Climate change gains prominence in Obama’s second inauguration speech

By this time, pundits and political wonks are busy dissecting President Obama’s rhetorics after his second inauguration speech. While the President harped on the usual rhetorics of the legacy of democracy and persisting security issues, a so-called second-tier issue of relevance to my profession- the environment- was also given ample air time in his oratorical piece.

Back in 2009, Obama only dedicated 23 words out of his almost 2400-word speech to environment issues, short of 1% in comparison to the whole address. It read:

With old friends and former foes, we’ll work tirelessly to lessen the nuclear threat and roll back the specter of a warming planet.

Fast-forward today in 2013, President Obama devoted an entire paragraph with a total of 158 words to the environment:

We, the people, still believe that our obligations as Americans are not just to ourselves, but to all posterity. We will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations. Some may still deny the overwhelming judgment of science, but none can avoid the devastating impact of raging fires, and crippling drought, and more powerful storms. The path towards sustainable energy sources will be long and sometimes difficult. But America cannot resist this transition; we must lead it. We cannot cede to other nations the technology that will power new jobs and new industries – we must claim its promise. That’s how we will maintain our economic vitality and our national treasure – our forests and waterways; our croplands and snowcapped peaks. That is how we will preserve our planet, commanded to our care by God. That’s what will lend meaning to the creed our fathers once declared.

This is about 7.5% of the entire speech, which is generous by US political standard, given time and space (and temperature?) constraints during the presidential inauguration.

The change in the choice of words from “a warming planet” (2009) to saying the ‘C-word’ “climate change” and the addition of sustainable energy (2013) also signals a better understanding of the interrelation between environment and energy systems. President Obama also cited the devastating impacts of environmental disasters, as he had witnessed both in his home country and abroad. Anchoring the economy onto sustainable energy both as a resource and industry fleshed-out the growth potential of the sector.

Inaugural speeches give cues to the agenda of the president. In President Obama’s first term, his domestic and international stance  on the environment have been short of disappointing. Is this attributable to his one-sentence mention of environmental issues? Whether the President’s second inauguration speech is mere lip service or will be consistent with his second-term policies and actions is up for speculation. Only time will tell.

Gaming the system

I haven’t guest-blogged for quite a while, having been busy maintaining this blog and my work which involves a lot of online communications. Yesterday ClimatePrep.org, a blog of the WWF published my blog post. I originally wrote that for this blog but I thought I’ll give them an initial crack at it. Learn more about how games help in understanding climate change complexities here.

There is already a (small) movement in using games that aid learning by simplifying concepts and adding the fun factor. This is different from ‘gamification’ which adds a ‘game layer’ to accomplish tasks. You can watch a related video from Boston University below (it did not make the editorial cut!):

It also got me into thinking of a new blogging community. If anyone out there is interested just drop me a note.