Strengthening Monitoring and Evaluation of Climate Change Adaptation

Scientific and Technical Advisory Panel (STAP)
Posted on: 3/22/2024 - Updated on: 3/22/2024

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Climate change poses an unprecedented threat to the life and livelihoods of billions of people. With US$100 billion per year to be invested worldwide in climate change adaptation and mitigation by 2020 (UNFCCC 2011), it is essential to ensure that the measures taken work – and work well.

Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) plays an essential role in understanding where to focus investments, what is working and what is not, why this is the case, and how to learn from experience to know how to maximize impact. M&E can (and should) support strategic and effective investments in climate change adaptation (CCA). While there are now many M&E systems in place for CCA at project, country, and international levels, the field is still relatively young and rapidly evolving.

In fact, despite over 15 years of CCA project implementation experience at the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and elsewhere, M&E has only in the past few years gained broader attention, focus, and prioritization as a strategic toolset for not only understanding what is and is not working well, but for ongoing learning and improvement to enhance results and impact.

In this context, the GEF Scientific and Technical Advisory Panel (STAP) and UNEP’s Global Programme of Research on Climate Change Vulnerability, Impacts, and Adaptation initiated a process to assess the state of knowledge on CCA M&E. This report reflects the synthesis of efforts over the past two years in that area, and draws from a wide base of knowledge regarding the current state of national and multilateral actions on adaptation, the outcomes of the Paris Agreement, and the needs and priorities of the GEF.

This synthesis report identifies a number of methodological challenges and difficulties for M&E starting with the difficulty of defining “success” in CCA. The long-term nature of climate change makes the success of adaptation efforts only apparent over time and in retrospect, creating difficulties for current and near-term assessments of progress. Further, adaptation interventions occur against the background of evolving climate, environmental and developmental baselines – posing challenges for attribution and evaluation – including the relative lack of counterfactual examples for comparative purposes.

Finally, the report suggests a number of areas that appear promising for strengthening CCA through more effective M&E. STAP hopes that this report will provide timely and actionable inputs to the GEF partnership and looks forward to continued engagement with the partnership in the implementation of its recommendations.


STAP (2017). Strengthening Monitoring and Evaluation of Climate Change Adaptation: A STAP Advisory Document. Global Environment Facility, Washington, D.C.

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