You are here: Home / Knowledge / Tools / Urban adaptation support tool / Urban AST step 6-2
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

6.2 How do I develop indicators for adaptation?

Indicators often play a critical role within M&E systems. Measurable indicators are attractive to policy and decision makers as they provide quantifiable, seemingly unambiguous ‘evidence' of impacts, progress and performance.


Having the right indicators in place to monitor vulnerabilities or the progress in adaptation is a difficult challenge. Even if several research projects are addressing the issue, some general gaps relevant for developing climate change vulnerability indicators exist. The main concerns are conceptual gaps, methodological questions, data concerns and application gaps. At present, many ongoing initiatives and projects help to ‘plug' some of the more general knowledge gaps and help to improve the existing threat specific vulnerability indicators, but only few projects are really focusing on adaptation options of cities and urban regions.


Most indicators are not suitable for the development of local strategies and identification of measures. Having this in mind and considering that adaptation is a local issue, indicators should be done on the individual city scale using also local information.

Quantitative indicators are a useful evaluation tool; however, a single indicator is just one measure of performance, it does not provide the full picture. Using indicators alongside data from other evaluation methods such as interviews, focus groups or expert solicitation can provide a richer picture of performance.

When identifying appropriate indicators both for monitoring and evaluating the process of adaptation and the outcomes, take account of the following:

  • The baselines for these indicators should include the effects of future climate change, particularly for projects with long-term implications, such as investments in infrastructure.
  • Do not reinvent the wheel: many indicators of adaptation performance may already be measured through existing processes, while existing M&E systems can be adjusted to better account for adaptation.
  • Recognise that M&E systems are dependent on proxy indicators that are also subject to a range of other influences, i.e. achievements can often not solely be attributed to sound adaptation practice but can be a result of other influencing factors.
  • Develop a combination of process and outcome indicators, recognising that in some cases adaptation outcomes cannot be determined for many years.
  • Indicators must serve a clear purpose and should be relevant. Another important factor in choosing indicators is whether data can be collected effectively and efficiently; collecting data should not be more costly than the value of the information they provide.

It is highly recommended that for the development of indicators external experts are involved and the suitability of the indicators is tested.


EU City-specific information

Relevant tile

See also

Relevant tile

EU General information

Relevant tile

International information for cities

Relevant tile

Document Actions