The Importance of Negative Evidence

The Director of the Global Environment Facility Evaluation Office (GEFEO), Rob Van Den Berg has told an audience that negative evidence emanating from evaluations is vital to tackling global problems afresh. Mr Van Den Berg was speaking during a panel discussion at the recent General Assembly of the International Development Evaluation Association (IDEAS) in Bridgetown, Barbados.

Alongside the GEFEO Director, was Berlin-based international consultant, and former expert of the Global Environment Facility (GEF), Christine Wörlen who shared insights into her “Theory of No Change”.

Dr Christine Wörlen came up with the “theory of no change” in 2011 on the basis of her analysis of evaluations that investigated what aspects were missing for projects to trigger (market) development . Details on her Meta evaluation on climate change mitigation evaluations commissioned by Climate-Eval online community of practice can be found here.

As you may expect, the engaging session drew interesting perspectives from an audience on different sides of the of the evidence movement.

While the stricter adherents to the fashionable evidence movement in public policy would dismiss this as non-rigorous information that should be discarded, others think it is worth considering.

According to Rob van den Berg, the session in Barbados was also meant to provoke colleagues and get them to think about the potential contribution of negative evidence - which also can be termed "learning from our mistakes" - in tackling problems afresh.

Guess I should let you read on:

click below for both powerpoint presentations

Should you need to contact both speakers, please email:




Thanks for this posting, I found the presentations very informative. The theory of negative evidence is similar to the theory of constraints (see and I guess also a bit like the 80/20 rule. Identify the constraining factor, and you can address it effectively results multiply greatly. When getting carbon policy right can be so challenging, knowing what doesn't work and what the major blockages are can greatly improve effectiveness. Sharing failures as well as successes can contribute to this.


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