We took great care in planning our work program to ensure that our evaluations were well-timed to inform current debates about the strategic direction of the World Bank.

As we have done for the last three years, we conclude 2018 with a look back at the evaluations, conversations, and issues we covered over the course of the year. A lot can happen in one year, and 2018 was no different.

IEG’s evaluations have helped the Bank Group address pressing issues of global importance, such as the Bank’s role in supporting citizen engagement and promoting shared prosperity.

We took great care in planning our work program to ensure that our evaluations were well-timed to inform current debates about the strategic direction of the World Bank. And so, in the same year the World Bank announced its commitment to substantially boost investments in human capital worldwide, we produced a comprehensive evaluation of the institution’s support to health services. As the UN Climate Negotiations commenced in Katowice, Poland, we published an in-depth evaluation of the Bank’s role in in supporting carbon finance. As pollution was found in a major study to be a leading cause of death worldwide, IEG published its first comprehensive assessment of pollution management efforts. As the scarcity of potable water in major metropolitan areas became an issue of growing concern, we published an evaluation of the Bank’s role in improving access to adequate, reliable, and sustained water and sanitation services. Recently our Annual Meetings event, backed by the findings of a synthesis report of IEG’s recent evaluative work, explored the very pressing issue of the potential impact of disruptive technologies on development, and especially on the opportunity they offer to enable marginalized groups to take part in the growth and development process.

During the year, we completed a country program evaluation of the World Bank Group’s support to Mexico — a country that has become one of the largest recipients of World Bank Group support in recent years. This report, along with our earlier synthesis of the World Bank Group’s support for upper middle-income countries, has many valuable lessons to impart as the IBRD considers how it will continue to engage with middle income countries (MICs), many of which are beset with high levels of poverty, significant inequality, institutional weakness, and major structural constraints to growth.  And our flagship report, the Results and Performance of the World Bank Group 2017, which offered insights into the World Bank’s contribution to Environmental Sustainability, broke online records for reach and downloads.

Here on the #WhatWorks blog, we explored many of these themes in parallel, drawing insights from the above mentioned evaluations: water and sanitation, health services, carbon markets, environmental sustainability, citizen engagement, lending to MICs and targeting lending to benefit the poorest. We also summarized the performance of the World Bank Group in 2017.

This year brought a new, thought provoking blog series, Creating Markets, that summarized detailed lessons of experience relevant to the World Bank Group's “Creating Markets” concept, which underlies the International Development Association of the World Bank Group’s 2018 replenishment theme of creating jobs through private sector-led economic transformation.

On the subject of evaluation capacity development and methodologies, the #WhatWorks blog shared advice and perspectives about the building blocks of quality in evaluation, evaluating policy coherence, and bridging the evaluation and big data communities of practice. We explored the challenges of stimulating learning and behavior change from the evidence produced by evaluation, and unpacking the issues surrounding the evaluation of the Sustainable Development Goals. In her final series of blogs for IEG, Caroline Heider, our Director General of Evaluation until September of 2018, outlined the three pillars of a working evaluation function, and provided a retrospective of her experience leading IEG’s team of evaluators.

As we look forward to forging new paths under new leadership in 2019, I’d like to take a moment to thank you, our readers, for being such an important part of our outreach network. We always appreciate the feedback, comments, questions, and ideas our readers provide. 

Please keep the comments coming, and give us your thoughts as to what you’d like to see from #WhatWorks in the coming year!

See highlights from this year's #WhatWorks posts in the timeline below.

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