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Monitoring and Evaluating Adaptation

6.3 Defining MRE indicators and mixed-methods approach

In order to gain an accurate picture of adaptation progress and performance, Monitoring, Reporting and Evaluation (MRE) systems often need to utilise and analyse multiple data and information sources, across a range of scales and sectors. A system that utilises "mixed-methods" is likely to be more flexible than one reliant on limited sources of data and information. Such an approach combines quantitative and qualitative methods allowing more effective triangulation of MRE information. Different data and information sources can be checked against each other to ensure that the overall narrative of adaptation progress and performance is robust, consistent and contextualised. This approach can also help to overcome some of the limitations of both quantitative and qualitative data, information and evidence from multiple sources such as indicator data and stakeholder views.

Adaptation indicators and indicator sets often play a critical role within Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) systems. Quantitative indicators are attractive to policy and decision makers as they provide quantifiable, seemingly unambiguous "evidence" of progress and performance. When identifying appropriate indicators both for monitoring and evaluating the process and the outcomes, take account of the following:

  • Do not reinvent the wheel: The use of pre-existing indicators (in some cases adapting them to purpose) is an accepted and pragmatic approach that brings advantages in terms of efficiency as well as providing multiple perspectives on adaptation.
  • It is not necessarily the value of an individual indicator that needs to be considered, but whether a set of indicators provides a coherent and robust picture of adaptation progress.
  • Indicators are often created in an iterative and interactive process with experts and stakeholders.
  • Consider using a combination of process, output and outcome indicators, recognising that in some cases adaptation outcomes cannot be determined for many years.
  • The development of indicators requires pragmatism; consider the resources available as well as data access, availability and coherence.

Gathering stakeholder views and perspectives can help to validate quantitative data and enable the exploration of the questions of "how" and "why". This can lead to deeper understanding of the causes and processes underpinning adaptation progress. Stakeholders can include sectoral and thematic experts but also those most affected by the impacts of climate change or individuals and organisations involved in implementing adaptation measures. A variety of methods can be used to gather this information including surveys, interviews, focus groups, public consultation events and workshops.

Insights from countries working with adaptation indicators highlight the importance of addressing MRE already at the stage of policy development. Clear formulation of an adaptation policy (either strategy or plan) and especially its aims and targets enable a more focused MRE system. Concrete targets facilitate their monitoring and eventually an improved knowledge base including lessons learned on progress, outcomes and impact that can enhance adaptation policy and practice. Furthermore, clear formulation of MRE requirements and objectives creates a mandate for using MRE results more effectively to inform policymaking and practice, and evaluations can better demonstrate the effectiveness and efficiency of adaptation policy and practice.

There still is a clear need for better understanding how to set more explicit and clear objectives that can be more easily measured, monitored and towards which progress can be assessed. A balance between setting explicit policy objectives/aims/targets and maintaining flexibility of MRE systems is likely to be beneficial. Given the iterative nature of adaptation, it is essential that MRE supports also the identification of emerging issues in addition to assessing past performance.

In addition to adaptation MRE results, revisions of policies and measures may also benefit from monitoring and evaluations of other, closely linked policy fields. Given the connectedness of climate change adaptaiton (CCA) to sustainable development and disaster risk reduction (DRR), lessons learnt in these policy fields can also be informative for further developing national adaptation policies.