Monitoring and Evaluation of Climate Change Adaptation: An Introduction

Inès Bakhtaoui, Richard Taylor
Posted on: 3/22/2024 - Updated on: 3/27/2024

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Monitoring and evaluation (M&E) is crucial to ensure that adaptation actions are proceeding as planned and that lessons are drawn to improve them. Since evaluation of how an adaptation intervention is performing is based on the monitored criteria, both are important to understand what makes adaptation actions effective.

However, there is no general consensus on what successful adaptation to climate change looks like. Adaptation situations are complex because they need to consider human-environmental interactions in the context of various threats and sources of vulnerability. Moreover, the range of potential adaptation interventions is broad depending on the scale, the scope and the sector considered. Some of the main conceptual and operational challenges to monitoring and evaluation of adaptation are: 

  • developing suitable metrics for adaptation due to the diversity and complexity of potential climate impacts and adaptation responses;
  • comparing progress to a counterfactual – what would have happened in the absence of the intervention;
  • adaptation takes place against shifting climatic, social and environmental baselines, which produce changing risk contexts which can be confounding factors in the assessment;
  • the results of an adaptation intervention are sometimes only visible in the long-term;
  • there are multiple reporting requirements and a lack of M&E capacities in many lower- and middle-income countries.

Designing a relevant and informative M&E system for an adaptation intervention is therefore a challenge. 

This article focuses on some of the most common methods used to monitor and evaluate adaptation. Each method addresses one or several challenges of M&E in a Climate Change Adaptation context. This article does not cover them all, but focuses on some of the most widely used overall approaches, iterative methods and participatory methods.


Inès Bakhtaoui and Richard Taylor. Monitoring and evaluation of climate change adaptation: an introduction. weAdapt. 

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