Monitoring, evaluation and learning is a critical component for climate risk management. In the Climate Risk Sourcebook (CR-SB) this module introduces why monitoring, evaluation and learning is important in the risk assessment and adpatation process. When the monitoring will be carried out depends on factors such as how long the risk assessment will take, when the CCA is planned and implemented, how long it takes before benefits may be visible and when resources become available to undertake activities. It is important to start thinking about monitoring, evaluation and learning early in the process of Climate Change Adaptation (CCA).
Monitoring and evaluation is a process that helps to understand and navigate changing conditions and offers opportunities to inform decision-making and generate new knowledge. Monitoring involves tracking progress towards specific objectives, while evaluation aims to determine the effectiveness of adaptation actions across various dimensions. Learning involves iterative reflection on the adaptation process and making adjustments to address new challenges that may arise.
Effective monitoring, evaluation and learning should track progress in relation to specific metrics and variables, as well as generate data, information and new knowledge that supports decision making to adjust policies and strengthen communities’ adaptation and resilience to climate risks. It is an iterative process (see also the figure below).
The iterative process of climate risk assessment, adaptation and monitoring, evaluation and learning. Adapted from Adaptation Committee (Schipper, 2022; UNFCCC. Adaptation Committee (AC), 2022)
A well designed and dedicated monitoring, evaluation and learning plan can ensure greater effectiveness and equity in the risk assessment and adaptation process over time. It is important for the plan to be inclusive and reflect how climate risk assessment and adaptation have affected marginalised groups. Disaggregated data should be used to consider the constraints faced by these groups, and solutions should be found to address these constraints.
Monitoring, evaluating, and learning of adaptation is difficult due to the context-specific nature of adaptation. What may be considered resilient in one group or system may not be the same elsewhere, and different people can be affected differently in the same location due to factors such as differential vulnerability. Adaptive capacity and resilience are also constantly evolving due to changing external processes and priorities over time. Assessing adaptation is difficult due to the mismatch of timescales between actions and outcomes, which leads to a focus on short-term results rather than long-term structural changes. Data availability is also a challenge, particularly in low- and middle-income settings that have less capacity and resources. However, with careful planning these limitations can be reduced/mitigated.
Understanding how indicators can assess adaptation is crucial for developing a monitoring, evaluation, and learning plan. As assessing adaptation is challenging, it is advisable to use multiple data and information sources while selecting indicators. By using a mixed-method approach applying both quantitative and qualitative sources, the plan can be more flexible, overcoming limitations, and providing more robust results. When considering indicators for your monitoring, evaluation, and learning plan, try to combine process, output and outcome indicators. When evaluated, this will provide a more robust and complete picture.