In order to make this argument, we will first recapitulate the main contemporary challenges of evaluating development co-operation and the response of the profession to them. Next we will point briefly to the opportunities presented by “big data” and then make the case for an integrated, comprehensive approach.

With impact evaluations moving more into the spotlight of development co-operation, a range of new challenges are emerging. Firstly, evaluations can no longer hide in a niche of either measuring impacts of individual projects very rigorously or assessing broad programme implementation at a higher level. Indeed, evaluations are expected to go both deep and wide. Secondly, development programmes are becoming more and more complex. Typical interventions include a variety of instruments to reach multi-dimensional development targets implemented by multiple stakeholders. On the one hand, global agendas such as the Paris Agreement and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development defined a large number of detailed impact indicators at a highly aggregated level (see also "The indicator challenge").