Good Practice Study on Indicator Principles for Climate Change Adaptation M&E

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Over the past years, Climate-Eval has commissioned state-of-the-art studies to facilitate evaluations of climate change mitigation and adaptation. The latest two studies have been

  1. the 'Guidelines to Climate Mitigation Evaluations', and
  2. 'Meta-Evaluation of Climate Mitigation Evaluations', both conducted by Dr. Christine Wörlen in 2013 (links are provided at the bottom of the blog).

A third study looked at the monitoring and evaluation of adaptation to climate change. This adaptation M&E study took place in 2011 and was conducted by Harris E. Sanahuja. The study on 'Frameworks for Monitoring and Evaluation of Adaptation to Climate Change' looked at the prevailing adaptation M&E frameworks of that time as well as the key conceptual and practical challenges and opportunities with respect to the monitoring and evaluation of climate change adaptation interventions.

But it wasn't the first study that focused on the monitoring and evaluation of adaptation to climate change! It was in 2007 - before the Climate-Eval community of practice was formed - that the Global Environment Facility's Independent Evaluation Office (GEF-IEO) commissioned a study that was presented at the 1st International Conference on Evaluating Climate Change and Development, which took place from May 10 to 13, 2008 in Alexandria, Egypt.

The study was conducted by a team of consultants of the Institute of Development Studies (IDS) and Ricardo-AEA, (Hedger et al. 2008) and was called 'Evaluation of adaptation to climate change from a development perspective'. It presented an overview of approaches relevant to or used for the evaluation of climate change adaptation interventions. It also identified main gaps in evaluation of adaptation interventions and it presented a multi-scale adaptation evaluation framework.

A new good practice study in support of climate change adaptation M&E!

As a follow-up on the two adaptation focused studies of 2008 and 2011, Climate-Eval recently reopened the discussion that started end 2012 on the need for more guidance on indicator development for adaptation M&E. The Independent Evaluation Office of the Global Environment Facility on behalf of the Climate-Eval community of practice is now undertaking a 'Good Practice Study on Indicator Development, Selection and Use Principles for Climate Change Adaptation M&E'. The terms of reference is shared at the bottom of this blog.

The good practice study is taking place from August 2014 through to January 2015 and is conducted by Punjanit Leagnavar and myself, with Dr. Colleen McGinn as special advisor to the study. The draft study report will be presented at the Second International Conference on Evaluating Climate Change and Development to be held in November 4-6, 2014 in Washington DC. The final report will incorporate the discussions that will take place at the Conference and is envisaged to be ready by January 2015.

Evaluators encounter many conceptual and operational challenges when assessing adaptation interventions, such as: long timescales associated with climate change; lack of agreed upon definitions of adaptation success; moving baselines; complexity/ multi-sectoral nature of adaptation; confusion among process, outcome and output based indicators; and the context-specificity of locally measured indicators versus the need for aggregation for portfolio level assessments and comparative analyses. These difficulties apply at various levels of intervention: finance/portfolio, national, and project levels.

Additionally, some have noted two diverging ? though not mutually exclusive - trends in adaptation indicators: general indicators that can be aggregated versus specific indicators closely linked to a program, which are not easily aggregated for country or global results. The trade-off between these trends of climate change adaptation indicators is currently being debated.

Purpose of this study

This Climate-Eval study will attempt to identify and address these issues and contribute towards the ongoing debate on the trends regarding indicators for the monitoring and evaluation of climate change adaptation interventions. One way by which it will do this will be by focusing on documenting the good practices and principles in the development, selection and use of indicators used in the M&E of adaptation interventions that are already out there. The study will also look at the steps and contexts that evaluators need to consider when formulating, selecting and/or adjusting and using indicators. In addition, the study will aim to identify common themes in the literature and gaps in data, including the identification of linkages (or lack thereof) between indicators and policy formulation and decisions.

A review of the state-of-the-art in climate change adaptation M&E will help identify priorities and promising indicator principles, with corresponding definitions and guidance for use that can demonstrate adaptation results at the project, national and portfolio levels.

So, what's next?!

Over the coming months we will be communicating with you, the Climate-Eval members as well as the wider group of professionals in the field of the monitoring and evaluation of climate change adaptation interventions, through blog posts, linkedIn posts and webinar presentations of findings.

We will be sharing the outline of the study as well as draft information with you, but more important; we want to hear from you as well! What should we take into consideration? Which adaptation M&E frameworks have you come across in your work? Are there specific indicator development principles you follow, or would you like to share examples of well developed indicators?

We look forward to hearing from you and hope this first blog post will be the start of a great discussion on the development, selection and use of indicators in adaptation M&E!