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Monitoring and Evaluating Adaptation

6.1 Understanding drivers and purposes

Clarifying the motivating factors behind Monitoring, Reporting and Evaluation (MRE) of adaptation and what it aims to accomplish are the foundations for establishing MRE systems. These drivers and purposes will have an impact on who should be involved or engaged, how roles and responsibilities are allocated and how coordination between relevant actors is organised. These in turn influence the selection of appropriate methods for carrying out MRE and even the extent and ways in which the results can be used and communicated to stakeholders.

Implementation of an adaptation strategy and/or adaptation plan provides a useful focus for monitoring and evaluating progress in adaptation to climate change. The development of MRE systems is often driven by legal and administrative requirements at the national, European or international level. MRE can serve multiple purposes, including tracking progress, assessing what has been accomplished and effectiveness of adaptation policies, enhancing the knowledge base and awareness of adaptation, increasing accountability, and learning to support improvement of adaptation policies, policymaking and practices. It provides feedback on adaptation progress and performance, being whether the adaptation goals, targets and efforts are sufficient and how they contribute to reducing vulnerability to climate change. But the overarching goal of MRE is to enable "new information and lessons learned to shape future decisions" within an iterative policy and agenda setting cycle. MRE also helps communicating the processes and outcomes of adaptation.

To evaluate adaptation policies, programmes, measures, etc. and apply criteria, like their effectiveness, efficiency or coherence, it has to be clear what they are evaluated against. Therefore, a useful MRE does not start at the very end of the adaptation policy cycle, but is included in every step: by setting goals and well-defined objectives that are as specific as possible in planning documents and when identifying and assessing adaptation options (Step 3 and Step 4), as well as monitoring over time the baseline conditions and progress. The evaluation itself needs to be a specific and separate effort to emphasize on getting deeper insights into some elements and progress from these insights, feeding back into adaptation policy revision. Only a limited number of countries gained deeper insights via evaluation (see EEA Report No 6/2020)