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Preparing the ground for adaptation Assessing risks and vulnerabilities to climate change Identifying adaptation options Assessing adaptation options Implementation Monitoring and evaluation

Monitoring and evaluation

6.1 What approaches for monitoring and evaluation can I apply?

Successful implementation must be supported by appropriate arrangements to monitor and evaluate whether the adaptation policy is "on track", i.e. is achieving its objectives to learn how future adaptation efforts might be enhanced. Monitoring and evaluation (M&E) arrangements for the implementation process should focus on two key questions: ‘are we doing the right things?' and ‘are we doing things right?' By answering these questions, it will be important to ensure that relevant stakeholders are engaged and emphasis is placed on a process of continuous learning.


In the context of scaled up funding for climate change adaptation, it is more important than ever to ensure the effectiveness, equity, and efficiency of adaptation interventions. Robust monitoring and evaluation is an essential part of this, both to ensure that the prospective benefits of interventions are being realised and to help improve the design of future interventions. Provisions to monitor and evaluate selected adaptation options need to focus on the outcomes of implemented adaptation activities, i.e. how effectively they respond in practice to reduce identified risks and enhance climate resilience. Monitoring and evaluating responses are also important to avoid potential maladaptive developments.

It is important to distinguish between:

  • Progress Indicators, which assess improvements in adaptive capacity in the areas of climate-resilient livelihoods, disaster risk reduction, local capacity development and address underlying causes of vulnerability. Indicators should examine changes in the policy and institutional environment that create opportunities for adaptation.
  • Performance indicators, which measure what has been achieved over the years in terms of adaptation.

To enable a proper M&E a combination of indicators and an active and sustained engagement of stakeholders, the public and private sectors, civil society as well as an effective management of knowledge is necessary. The process for M&E can be made manageable through careful preparation. Thus, it is important to put the emphasis on the following:

  • Tailor the M&E approach to the type and scale of the activity: While for some objectives and adaptation options core indicators (for process and outcome) can be established, it might be appropriate for others to focus on an aggregate assessment.
  • Acknowledge trade-offs: M&E approaches need to be proportional to the investment. Recognise and reflect on the trade-offs in the design of the M&E approach and consider whether these can these be justified.
  • Define clearly the baselines as reference for M&E: Carefully defined baselines are essential to measure what has been achieved through implementation. Baselines need to be defined for all components of M&E, including assumptions for autonomous adaptation taking place without any intervention.
  • Consider the unintended and unexpected: The M&E approach should not simply consider ‘did we do what we said we would do?' but be sufficiently flexible to explore the unintended and unexpected. This may be where some of the most important adaptation lessons can be learnt.
  • Communicate and agree on the purpose for monitoring and evaluating: There are numerous reasons that might drive M&E efforts, including a need to account for public funds, to learn what works (or not) and why; to track progress; to ensure equity and social justice; or to measure efficiency and effectiveness. All are equally valid, but it is important to acknowledge the tensions and synergies between these purposes.

Engage and involve affected stakeholders: All stakeholders with a role and responsibility for implementation need to be part of the M&E process. Early stakeholder involvement will ensure continuous monitoring of their adaptation activities throughout the implementation phase. Engagement with stakeholders can also help with gathering relevant data for M&E.

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