Understanding practice, progress and lessons learned in adaptation – approaches to monitoring, reporting and evaluation at national level and the way forward

11:15 Thursday 30 May


Room S1


Kirsi Mäkinen (Finland) 1; Francisco Heras (Spain) 2; Markus Leitner (Austria) 3; Anna Schmidt (Austria) 3; Juha-Pekka Maijala (Finland) 4; Andrew Russell (United Kingdom) 5; José Paulino (Portugal) 6; Timo Leiter (United Kingdom) 7

1 - Finnish Environment Institute; 2 - Spanish Climate Change Office (Spanish Ministry for the Ecological Transition); 3 - Environment Agency Austria; 4 - Ministry of Environment, Finland; 5 - Adaptation Sub-Committee of the Committee on Climate Change; 6 - Agência Portuguesa do Ambiente; 7 - London School of Economics, UK

As the number of countries that move from planning to implementing national adaptation policies, strategies and plans increases, so does the need for approaches and methods to track progress and understand the effects of adaptation policies and measures.

Monitoring and evaluation of these national plans and strategies is being increasingly recognised at the international level as a crucial step of the process of adapting to climate change since they enable countries to better address climate risks, improve the effectiveness of adaptation measures, and increase accountability. Countries are gradually engaging in monitoring, evaluating and learning from their adaptation plans, policies, programmes and actions.

Countries are increasingly required to report on their efforts to adapt to climate change e.g. through their international commitments to the Paris Agreement. Assessments of emerging practice of national level adaptation monitoring, reporting and evaluation (MRE) in Europe (EEA Technical report No 20/2015) and the latest OECD Climate Change Expert Group Paper No. 2017(3) (Insights from national adaptation monitoring and evaluation systems) have shown that while adaptation priorities and climate risks vary across countries, the challenges of understanding progress in adaptation are often shared. Recently the evaluation of the EU Adaptation Strategy found that most EU Member States have plans for periodic reviews of their national adaptation policies. Whilst evidence of practical experiences remains limited, there is a pressing need to facilitate spreading of lessons learnt and sharing of experiences across countries.

This session focuses on latest developments in adaptation MRE at national level mostly in Europe. It looks into countries that have gained practical experience in monitoring and evaluating their national adaptation strategies and plans to share their lessons learnt and discuss their approaches to commonly faced challenges. Specific topics to be addressed include stakeholder engagement, the role of adaptation indicators in monitoring, reporting and evaluation, and the use of knowledge generated by MRE efforts to improve and further promote policy and practice. The final objective is to contribute to strengthen the knowledge base about monitoring and evaluation in mostly European countries and to foster learning from the evaluation of adaptation policies. In addition, the session reflects on the links of national MRE activities to knowledge needs at different levels of governance (local and international) and provides a space where experiences and lessons learned from the audience can feed into MRE practice.

Target audience

The target audience includes policymakers, public authorities, practitioners researchers, and experts coordinating, developing, implementing, monitoring or evaluating adaptation plans and strategies. The increasing level of implementation of adaptation policies and measures across Europe calls for wider application of approaches and methods to monitor, report and evaluate progress towards adaptation policy objectives. The session responds to the growing need to exchange lessons learnt in the practice of adaptation MRE by bringing together recent experiences from European countries.

Proposed format for the session

The session will combine 6 presentations and a facilitated discussion with participants. An opening presentation (10 mins) by the convenors will introduce the topic, its context and highlight key developments and challenges of national level adaptation MRE. This will be followed by brief (6×10 mins) presentations on recent experiences in the practice of monitoring, reporting and evaluating national adaptation policies.

The presentations will be followed by a plenary discussion with the speakers, focussing on reflecting on key issues arising from the presentations and related topics of interest (e.g. stakeholder engagement in MRE; the role of adaptation indicators in MRE; the use of knowledge generated by MRE efforts to improve and further progress policy and practice). Finally, we will discuss the next needed step on the way forward in MRE in a the broader context of adaptation including efforts in other international agreements like the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction and the Sustainable Development Goals.

The session will be wrapped up by a brief (5 mins) commentary reflecting on the discussions from the breakout groups and close with a reflection on the ways forward by the session conveners.

Contributing Authors abstracts

1. Anna Schmidt (EAA, Austria) & Markus Leitner (EAA, Austria) will present the Austrian Monitoring & Evaluation (MRE) System. An MRE approach was developed to investigate the implementation of the Austrian Adaptation Strategy and Action Plan. The process of developing an MRE system started in early 2013 and relates closely to the actions identified and proposed in the Action Plan. The system is effective in terms of providing sufficient information to monitor implementation activities, while still keeping it manageable with reasonable efforts. After introducing the overall set-up of the Austrian MRE system, the presentation will highlight the main challenges and gaps that already became obvious in the development process and our approach to address them. The results were used to further develop and improve the Adaptation Strategy and Action Plan 2.0 in 2017. Experiences of the first MRE effort are now feeding back into the revision of the MRE concepts for the second loop of the Adaptation Policy Cycle. Finally the presentation will discuss how MRE systems may serve more purposes than ‘only’ monitoring and evaluating progress and highlight some joint opportunities and challenges.

2. JosŽé Paulino (Environment Protection Agency, Portugal) will share the experience of monitoring implementation of the Portuguese Adaptation Strategy (ENAAC 2020) and preparation of a MRE framework for the Action Programme for Adaptation to Climate Change (P3 AC), which is expected to be adopted in early 2019. ENAAC has being monitored through reports from several sectoral working groups, which happens every two years, mainly process oriented. Each sector must inform activities and progress achieved against the 3 objectives of the Strategy: 1. Improve knowledge on impacts and adaptation; 2. Mainstream adaptation in sectoral policies; 3. Implement measures. In 2016 the financing Programme under Cohesion Fund (PO SEUR), which constitutes presently the main financing instrument for Adaptation in Portugal, asked APA to define one Outcome Indicator to monitor implementation of Adaptation. APA, with help from contractors, developed an indicator that monitor progress in adaptation action, through a survey directed to all public entities with responsibility in implementing adaptation measures (more than 300, including municipalities). The result is given by a percentage of implementing adaptation actions established in plans or strategies. In 2018 an Action Plan was developed under ENAAC 2020, the Action Programme for Adaptation to Climate Change 2020-2030 (P3AC) and comprises a set of indicators to monitor adaptation action, including outcome indicators, aiming quantification of adaptation effects. MRE framework is foreseen under this Action Plan and is expected to help in evaluating the adoption of adaptation action through different sectors and territorial scales.

3. Kirsi MäŠkinen (Finnish Environment Institute SYKE, Finland) and Juha-Pekka Maijala (Ministry of Environment, Finland) will present lessons learnt in the recent mid-term evaluation of Finland’s National Adaptation Plan (NAP) 2022 and the process to assess progress of the environment sector’s adaptation action plan. The NAP mid-term evaluation carried out in 2018 engaged a broad range of stakeholders at different levels of governance (national, regional and local) to assess progress towards objectives of the NAP and implementation of its measures in different sectors. In parallel, implementation of the Action Plan for the Adaptation to Climate Change of the Environmental Administration 2022 was assessed in 2017-2018. The presentation provides an overview of these monitoring and evaluation processes, their approaches and interlinkages and reflects on the experiences and lessons learnt for the practice of adaptation MRE at national level. Finally the presentation discusses the multiple ambitions of MRE processes to inform adaptation policy and practice, support reporting needs, and engage stakeholders.

4. Andrew Russell (CCC-ASC, UK) will give an overview of monitoring and evaluation of progress towards the actions outlined in England’s National Adaptation Programme (NAP). The NAP production is required by the UK’s Climate Change Act (2008) and it is written by a government department (Defra). It is now in its second iteration: NAP1 (2013) covered actions for the period 2013-2018; and NAP2 (2018) proposed actions for the period 2018-2023. The Climate Change Act also required an independent body to be set up to monitor the government’s progress towards the NAP actions: this body is the Adaptation Sub-Committee (ASC) of the Committee on Climate Change (CCC). The ASC assesses the NAP and progress towards its actions every 2 years, so Progress Reports have been published in 2015 and 2017 and work is ongoing for the 2019 report. This is a very interesting time to reflect on this process: there are two cycles of Progress Reporting and government responses to analyse; evidence of how the ASC’s analyses have affected the production of NAP2; and it is possible to contextualise the role of the NAP against the changing priorities and preferred policy vehicles of a changing government. These latter factors will shape the focus of this presentation.

5. Francisco Heras, (Spanish Climate Change Office, Spain) will share the Spanish ongoing evaluation of the National Adaptation Plan (PNACC) which is being carried out through the LIFE SHARA Project and will be finalized by summer 2019. This evaluation is being developed through surveys (addressed to PNACC participants), in-depth interviews and involves also the development of a set of indicators to facilitate monitoring climate change adaptation in Spain, All this process is accompanied and supported by an expert advisory group involving key experts from European, National, regional and local entities, as well as researchers and NGOs representatives. The PNACC evaluation will be extremely useful and linked to the elaboration of the next National Adaptation Plan which will take place during the second semester of 2019. In this session, the author will share the progress made, difficulties, remaining challenges and lessons learned in measuring the achievements of the Spanish National Plan.

6. Timo Leiter (GIZ, Germany) / Neha Rai (IIED) will provide an overview of the current status of national adaptation M&E systems worldwide and reflect upon the examples presented from Europe. On the basis of experience gathered to date he will provide an update to the article ‘Towards a framework to assess, compare and develop monitoring and evaluation of climate change adaptation in Europe’ which arose from the 1st ECCA conference and was published 2015 in Mitigation and Adaptation Strategies for Global Change. In addition, the author will outline results from the Paris Agreement Work Programme to be adopted at COP24 in regard to M&E of adaptation and reporting and what they mean for national level adaptation monitoring, reporting and evaluation (MRE) in Europe.