The Big Push Forward

The Big Push Forward is an informal international network of practitioners, creating the space for discussion, debate and the exploration of appropriate approaches for assessing transformative development processes.

Hard evidence, rigorous data, conclusive proof, value for money, evidence-based policy are tantalising terms promising clarity about what works and what should be funded in international development. Yet behind these terms lie definitional tussles, vested interests and contested world views. For those who hold the purse strings certain ways of knowing and assessing impact are considered more legitimate than others. Yet increasingly people are recognising the need for multiple and mixed methods and approaches to better understand complex change. Increasingly it is also recognised that these, compared to imposed standards, are more likely to lead to fair assessments helping us learn how to support a fairer world.

The Big Push Forward is a multi-stakeholder initiative involving a number of individuals and organisations, including the Institute of Development Studies which hosts the initiative. With the support of our steering group the network has been growing since we first met at the Institute of Development Studies in September 2010 as ‘the Big Pushback’ against what we saw as a narrowing of what is valued and how value is measured. The BPF has received support from a number of donors listed on our dedicated website.

In April 2013, the Big Push Forward held an international conference on The Politics of Evidence.

The book that emerged from the Big Push Forward initiative and conference is now available – The Politics of Evidence and Results in International Development. In it, Irene Guijt, Rosalind Eyben, Chris Roche and Cathy Shutt critically examine the context and history of the current demands for results-oriented measurement and for evidence of value for money – and much more. 

Key contacts

Project details

start date
18 July 2011
end date
30 June 2013

Recent work