United Nations
Environment Programme

Lessons Learned Framework

Learned lessons should be based on the explicit findings of an evaluation and anchored in its conclusions. Lessons are rooted in real project experiences and must have the potential for wider application and use. Lessons should briefly describe the context from which they are derived and specify the contexts in which they may be useful. In addition, some lessons should identify how Human Rights and Gender Equality have been adequately integrated into project delivery and/or how they could have could have been taken into consideration.

The Evaluation Office maintains a database of lessons derived from evaluations conducted over the past several years. Lessons presented in evaluation reports are often of highly variable quality and limited utility. They are “often platitudes borne of a felt need to demonstrate engagement in the ‘knowledge society’ or simply to satisfy the specified evaluation requirements”.

Even where high quality lessons are developed, they are seldom communicated effectively to their intended audiences. In order to enhance the quality of lessons, improve their utilisation, and to aid their dissemination and communication to both internal and external audiences, the Evaluation Office has developed a framework of lessons drawn from completed evaluations. The results of this exercise were published in the paper - Lessons Learned from Evaluations: A Platform for Sharing Knowledge.

The framework consists of common problems, issues and/or constraints to which evaluation lessons relate, using ‘mind-mapping’ software and ‘problem tree’ techniques. Evaluation lessons were systematically classified within the resulting framework. Future work will extend this approach to the analysis of evaluation recommendations.