M&E in adaptation

Monitoring and evaluation (M&E) frameworks assess the effectiveness of various approaches to adapt to climate change by developing and developed countries. M&E results in lessons that improve future efforts towards climate change adaptation and ensures that in implementing adaptation plans, resources are maximized to meet the agreed upon goals. Hence, learning and accountability are at the heart of the M&E process. The application of monitoring and evaluation tools varies across countries and overtime based on governance systems, financing mechanisms and adaptation initiatives. Some of these tools include:

  1. Climate change risk and vulnerability assessments: These help to recognize priority adaptation needs and channel resources optimally. Priority can be determined based on the severity of the potential consequences of the identified risk or vulnerabilities. Findings from these assessments can contribute to a baseline of the country’s climate vulnerability against which progress on adaptation can be reviewed. This can also be useful in observing how adaptation priorities change over time and influence national policies on adaptation. These assessments have notably been used in the United Kingdom’s Climate Change Risk Assessment for the 2013 National Adaptation programme and in the preparatory stages of Kenya’s Climate Change Action Plan.
  2. Indicators to monitor progress on adaptation priorities: These are useful in tracking progress in climate change adaptation projects/programmes and providing information on policy design and budgeting processes. A number of challenges are associated with defining indicators such as the need to ensure stability of the indicator for ease of comparison over time while allowing for sufficient flexibility of the indicator to changing adaptation priorities. Broad stakeholder consultation can help in defining indicators that capture issues of particular interest and address information gaps. Indicators can also be developed from already existing data and then, modified. Types of indicator categories being used for monitoring and evaluating adaptation in countries like Germany and Morocco are climate change impacts, exposure, vulnerability, adaptation process and adaptation outcomes.
  3. Project and programme evaluations to identify effective adaptation approaches: Lessons learned from evaluations contribute to evidence-based policy processes and guide resource allocation. Hence, it is important that the evaluation framework is designed and implemented at the outset of adaptation initiatives to set the stage for future evaluations. Principles of evaluation should address if the objectives of the project/programme have been met and also assess the relevance, efficiency, effectiveness, impact and sustainability of the intervention, in line with the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development`s Development Assistance Committee (OECD DAC) criteria.
  4. National audits and climate expenditure reviews: Supreme audit institutions (SAIs) are responsible for ensuring that public funds are spent effectively and in compliance with existing rules, regulations and principles of good governance, as noted by the OECD. SAIs in several countries adopt various approaches in auditing climate change programmes depending on their adaptation priorities and national standards and regulations. Audits can range from assessment of national compliance with international agreements on climate change to evaluation of management structures in place. In addition, audits examine if financial resources are properly administered and reach the intended recipients. As a complementary tool, Climate Public Expenditure and Institutional Reviews (CPEIRs) were introduced in 2011 to involve central planning and financial institutions in designing national policies on climate change and to proffer insights on their financial implications.

The tools listed above are not an exhaustive list. However, they display a portfolio which can be used complementarily to optimise the M&E process and also serve as promising opportunities for further work in the development of other tools. Despite the progress being made regarding M&E, some challenges have been identified which hampers its effectiveness.

  1. Measuring the attribution of adaptation interventions: Determination of the impact of specific adaptation initiatives can be difficult especially when adaptation considerations are integrated into all national planning and budgeting processes and cannot be easily differentiated from larger national programmes.
  2. Establishing baselines and setting targets in a relatively uncertain climate context: Baseline refers to the situation prior to an intervention. National policies do not often set specific and measurable targets which make baselines hard to establish. In addition, some schools of thought argue that the use of baselines as a comparator might be misleading because adaptation occurs in a changing environment with evolving climate-related hazards and risks. This calls for further considerations in determining baselines.
  3. Assessing long-term climate change adaptation: Due to the long time-horizons and the uncertain nature of climate change, it may take years or decades before the impact of the adaptation intervention becomes apparent. This might discourage the commitment of resources to M&E since the lessons from the intervention might not be relevant when it is comes far in the future. A way to overcome this challenge is focusing on intermediate goals through on-going monitoring and real-time evaluation.
  4. Accounting for maladaptation: Adaptation interventions that result in a negative outcome for the population or the environment are called maladaptation. This might also involve failure to see to critical gaps or drivers of climate vulnerability. Addressing this has been found to be challenging for evaluators given that maladaptation is often unexpected.

In conclusion, the key to a good M&E framework for climate change adaptation projects/programmes is the appropriate tailoring of tools to the country context and programme under consideration. In modifying traditional approaches to M&E to meet the unique needs of climate change adaptation, several toolkits have been developed over the years by international organisations and independent researchers, some of which are listed below.

“Community-Based Resilience Assessment (CoBRA) tool”- United Nations Development Programme (2014).

“Tracking Adaptation and Measuring Development (TAMD) Framework”- Brooks et al. (2011) and International Institute for Environment and Development (2012).

“TANGO Resilience Assessment Framework” – Brooks et al. (2011) and International Institute for Environment and Development (2012).

“Adaptation Monitoring and Assessment Tool (AMAT)”- Global Environment Facility (2012).

“AdaptME Toolkit”- Pringle (2011) of the U.K. Climate Impacts Programme (UKCIP).

“Adaptation Fund Results Framework and Baseline Guidance: Project-level”- Adaptation Fund (2011).

“Making Adaptation Count”- World Resources Institute, German Federal Enterprise for International Cooperation (GIZ) and Spearman and McGray (2011).

“Climate Change Adaptation, Monitoring and Evaluation Framework”- United Nations Development Programme (2007).

“Learn to ADAPT”- Villanueva (2011).

“Climate Resilience and Food Security Framework”- International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD).

Further Readings:

Bours, D., McGinn, C. and Pringle, P. (2013). Monitoring & evaluation for climate change adaptation: A synthesis of tools, frameworks and approaches. SEA Change CoP, Phnom Penh and UKCIP, Oxford.

Leagnavar, P., Bours, D. and McGinn, C. (2015). Good Practice Study on Principles for Indicator Development, Selection, and Use in Climate Change Adaptation Monitoring and Evaluation. Climate Eval CoP. http://dx.doi.org/10.13140/RG.2.1.2134.5048

OECD (2015). National Climate Change Adaptation: Emerging Practices in Monitoring and Evaluation. OECD Publishing, Paris. http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/9789264229679-en