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Monitoring and Evaluating Adaptation

Efforts to monitor and evaluate adaptation generally serve both learning and accountability. At early stages of implementing adaptation policies, efforts typically focus on monitoring and evaluating processes set by adaptation policies (what is being done?). Procedural aspects may include for instance coordination mechanisms set in place, research and communication activities, or involvement of stakeholders in adaptation processes. As experience of implementing adaptation actions accrues, it becomes increasingly important to understand also the effects and outcomes of such processes and associated adaptation actions (what difference does it make to our vulnerabilities and risks?).

As governments increasingly have adaptation strategies and adaptation plans in place and revisions of National Adaptation Strategies (NAS), National Adaptation Plans (NAP) and/or Sectoral Adaptation Plans (SAP) are taking place, more and more experience is being gained in monitoring and limited experience in evaluation. Due to an increase in adaptation and adaptation-relevant actions, it becomes more essential to ensure the effectiveness, efficiency and equity of adaptation interventions. A dedicated monitoring and evaluation concept or strategy can ensure effectiveness and sustainability of the adaptation process over time. Understanding how best to adapt to future climate change, how risks can be most effectively reduced and resilience and adaptive capacity enhanced, and what the characteristics of a well-adapting society might be are still at an early stage. Learning what works well (or not) in which circumstances and for what reasons is critical. The development of an adaptation strategy and adaptation action plan presents an opportunity to consider how to best monitor, evaluate, and report on, adaptation progress and performance.

For national-level Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) approaches it is important that they "look" both downwards and upwards, so that national level decisions are informed by sub-national experiences and nations are able to share their adaptation progress and experiences effectively with the wider international community. The delivery of an adaptation strategy and/or adaptation/action plan provides a useful focus for monitoring and evaluating progress in adapting to climate change.

Deciding what a Monitoring, Reporting and Evaluation (MRE) system for adaptation aims to accomplish (purposes) has an impact on the way this can be achieved (the methods used), the actors who should be involved or engaged in the process, and the extent to which the results of MRE activities are used in policies and practices. Consequently, Step 6 of the AST considers each of these elements in more detail.