Evidence-based policy is often framed by questioning what works, for whom and in what situations. It is often forgotten that the ability to answer this question depends on knowledge about what has happened, what is happening and what is likely to happen.
Impact evaluation, real-time monitoring and foresight are critical elements of development policy processes. This is particularly so when issues are emergent, complex, or sensitive. Effective short- and medium-term horizon scanning is thus essential. New tools, approaches, and methods are needed to allow governments, donors, NGOs, and businesses to scan, to act, and to measure impact.
The Policy Anticipation, Response and Evaluation programme (2012–17) was commissioned and funded by the UK Department for International Development. In addressing these issues, the programme was organised under three themes: foresight, rapid response, and impact innovation.
The first of the programmes outcomes was stronger and timely evidence-based guidance for governments, donors, and NGOs to respond rapidly to unfolding events and newly emerging issues through horizon scanning and crisis response. The programme also provided extensive new knowledge on innovative approaches for evaluating policy impacts in complex contexts.