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Conference: Measuring what matters in a ‘post-truth’ society

Apr. 06, 2017 - Apr. 06, 2017

Thanks to all presenters and participants for a wonderful conference!

Please find the conference report, presentations and papers on the right hand side.

Please find a reflection blog on the conference here.


 Photo credits Percy Cicilia Jr.

 Photo credits Percy Cicilia Jr.

Photo credits Percy Cicilia Jr.

Photo credits: Percy Cicilia Jr.

Date: Thursday 6 April 2017

Location: Wageningen, the Netherlands

What this conference is about

This conference seeks to get clarity and learn about how to measure what matters, when we are aiming for SDGs yet we seem to live in a ‘post-truth’ society.

“Partnership and collaboration across every sector and at every level is vital if we are to meet the 2030 Global Goals for Sustainable Development. We need to find ways to measure progress in ways that have meaning to individuals from local to global, and across every sector. The range of organizations and stakeholders present and the range of initiatives being developed show how the Goals can be used to develop a shared framework.” – Jessica Fries , Executive Chairman, A4S. In: Measure What Matters: a Framework for Action (2016).

How do we get to the core of what matters to be evaluated? And for who? How can we generate evidence that has meaning for society at large, not just the key players in society?

How do we contribute to this as evaluators, program officers, policy makers, when facts seem to become less influential than emotions and personal beliefs?

According to the Oxford Dictionaries ‘post-truth’ is defined as “relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief”. We can see what happened in the UK (Brexit) and USA (Trump). Evaluators are not the only ones that advocate for evidence-based decision making: 'An American government that ignores science to pursue ideological agendas endangers the world' (Common Dreams,25 January 2017;

This conference is about measuring what matters in a post-truth society.


Claire Hutchings, Head of Programme Quality, Oxfam GB ( - perspective INGO

Wendy Asbeek,  Ministry of Foreign Affairs,  Director Policy and Operations Evaluation ( IOB) - perspective government & evaluators

Robert Dijksterhuis, Board Member International Programs RVO (Netherlands Enterprise Agency) - perspective private sector


Facilitators/resource persons

Irene Guijt - OXFAM GB, head of Research

Cecile Kusters, CDI, Wageningen University & Research

Conference questions

How do we measure what matters, and use what matters, to change what should matter? What is our role in this as evaluators, commissioners, policy makers, other users?

Who this conference was for

This conference was for people involved in development initiatives, from government, international organisations, civil society, private sector, M&E and academia.

Book launch

Our new guide ‘Managing for Sustainable Development Impact. An Integrated Approach to Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation’ was launched at the end of the conference:

Conference organisers

This conference is the ninth annual ‘M&E on the Cutting Edge’ event organised by Wageningen University & Research, Wageningen Centre for Development Innovation (CDI),  in collaboration with OXFAM GB.

Conference approach

Inspiring keynotes, with interactive and reflective sessions and a panel discussion.


Date and location

Thursday 6 April

Hof van Wageningen (

Wageningen, the Netherlands

Content information:

Conference programme

9 am - 3.30 pm,  with concluding drinks

Keynotes, group reflections, panel discussion

Book launch: 4-5 pm

See flyer