United Nations Conference on Trade and Development

United Nations Conference on Trade and Development

The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) supports developing countries with their integration into the world economy and the international trading system in a manner compatible with the development objectives of each country. In doing so, the organization focuses on policies and actions that are sustainable. UNCTAD was established in 1964 and its headquarters is in Geneva, Switzerland. In 2014, UNCTAD had 482 staff members from 108 countries and a budget of USD 114 million.






Evaluation Function Snapshot Independence Agenda Setting & Evaluation Planning Quality Assurance Use of Evaluation Joint Evaluation

Evaluation Function

The Evaluation and Monitoring Unit (EMU) is an oversight function that serves to both ensure and enhance the quality and resonance of UNCTAD's programmes and projects. EMU has had an evaluation policy since 2011 and is mandated to conduct an annual in-depth evaluation of a programme of work that is considered by its governing body; organize and oversee programme and project evaluations; and participate in joint evaluations, among others.

EMU has two staff members and total expenditure for 2014 was US $130,000.

In particular, EMU's work involves:

  •  managing and conducting evaluations according to its evaluation plan, as well as ad hoc requests from programme managers and donors ;
  • programme monitoring;
  • quality assurance of evaluation products and monitoring and reporting outputs;
  • capacity development within the organization on monitoring and evaluation;
  • contributing to inter-agency initiatives on evaluations;
  • supporting programme budget preparations;
  • acting as focal point for evaluations undertaken by external oversight bodies, for example, OIOS and the JIU;
  •  participating in clearance of project proposals; and
  • providing guidance and assistance to programme managers in using results-based management methodologies.





    • Evaluation Policy
    • Priorities
      • Promoting a culture of monitoring and evaluation for better results;
      • Strengthening internal capacities for monitoring and evaluation;
      • Promoting use of evaluation products in programme and project planning and implementation.
    • Human Resources
      • Chief: F
      • Evaluators: Total 2
      • Support staff: 0.5
      • Decentralized evaluation staff: None
    • Evaluations produced in recent years by the Evaluation and Monitoring Unit
      • Eight centralized evaluations in 2014.
      • Five centralized evaluations in 2013.
      • Three centralized evaluations in 2012.
    • Key resource: web link/key document here





Structurally, the Evaluation and Monitoring Unit (EMU) is located within the UNCTAD Executive Office (EO). The head of EMU reports to UNCTAD's Secretary General through the Assistant Secretary General. This institutional location of the evaluation function provides a positive influence on EMU's independence. The head of EMU manages the evaluation budget and has the authority to issue evaluation reports.



Agenda Setting & Evaluation Planning

The Evaluation and Monitoring Unit (EMU) prepares an annual or multi-annual plan of programme and project evaluations. Topics for programme evaluations are decided by Member States. Project evaluations are included in the plan when UNCTAD's administration indicates that a terminal evaluation is required for certain projects at their conclusion, such as those projects funded by the UN Development Account, or in cases when a donor includes a provision for evaluation in the project document.

Quality Assurance


UNCTAD is a party to the policies and guidelines set out by UNEG. This includes observing the Norms and Standards of evaluation, and using the UNEG guidelines and quality checklists, such as the guidance document on Integrating Human Rights and Gender Equality in Evaluations, and quality checklists for evaluation terms of reference, inception reports, and evaluation reports.

UNCTAD's evaluation policy also specifies that: "[a]n evaluation report is receivable only when it satisfies quality standards. This implies that the evaluation report must be void of any conjecture that is not supported by facts or observations, or analyses thereof. It must have a logical construct, where background information and evidence supports findings, from which conclusions and recommendations can be drawn. It must address issues and questions posed in its terms-of-reference, and provide a clear explanation if certain questions were not answerable or could not be investigated in sufficient depth. It must also be written in a clear manner that would enable readers to understand the findings and conclusions without ambiguity".

The Evaluation and Monitoring Unit (EMU) performs quality assurance of each evaluation, from the beginning at the evaluability study and evaluation design stage, through to the inception report, and the final report stage. EMU also plays an advisory role with regard to preparation of the management response. EMU coordinates between the external evaluators and programme and project managers to ensure the evaluators have free access to all information needed for the evaluation and s/he can obtain sufficient data for the assessment. EMU also ensures stakeholders are widely consulted and engaged throughout the evaluation process to facilitate a smooth evaluation process and the factual clarification needed to guarantee the quality and accuracy of the evaluation products. EMU also provides support to project clearance, with a particular focus on the design of project logframes and their evaluability.


Use of Evaluation

An annual report on evaluations undertaken in the preceding 12 months is presented to UNCTAD's member States for information at an annual intergovernmental meeting on technical cooperation and evaluation matters. This Evaluation of UNCTAD activities: Overview, highlights findings, conclusions and lessons from past evaluations. The report is publicly available and shared with programme and project managers to promote learning from evaluations.

The head of the entity evaluated is responsible for issuing a response to the evaluation report. Both a Management Response Matrix (MRM), and a summary response on general policy position, are used. Reporting on this is provided to the oversight bodies of the organization. However, management, evaluated entities, and the Evaluation and Monitoring Unit (EMU) only partly monitor the implementation of recommendations. Reports on the monitoring of the implementation of recommendations are sent to the Governing Body.

All reports of external evaluations undertaken by UNCTAD, as well as related materials such as terms of references, the management response, or the follow-up reports on the implementation of evaluation recommendations, are made publicly available, except in cases when the reports contain material of a confidential nature. To ensure easy access to these reports by all stakeholders, they are made available in a dedicated section of UNCTAD's website managed by the evaluation unit.


Joint Evaluation

In January 2015, UNCTAD was the lead agency in the joint evaluation of a project on transport and trade facilitation jointly implemented by Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) and United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA). ESCAP was the lead entity on this project. The Evaluation and Monitoring Unit collaborated with ESCAP's evaluation office to manage the evaluation of the project. The evaluation report will shortly be available on UNCTAD's website.



UNEG Members

Nishta Keeble

Chief, Independent Evaluation Unit, UNCTAD

Yan Zhang

Chief of Evaluation, UNCTAD

Fact Sheet