1.1. Introduction

In the last five years, interest in Monitoring, Reporting and Evaluation (MRE) for adaptation has grown exponentially, including at the national level. This reflects the growing number of countries who are developing adaptation plans, policies and strategies and have begun to implement adaptation actions. Consequently, the demand to understand if adaptation policies and actions work (or not), in which contexts, and why, has increased. This proliferation of national adaptation plans has, until recently, not been matched by proportional efforts to track effectiveness, efficiency and value for money of adaptation or to learn from emerging practice.

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The objective of this chapter is to provide a succinct yet robust instruction to the emerging field of MRE of adaptation and what it means at national level. This grounding provides valuable context for the practical examples and experiences set out in the later chapters. The chapter examines the evolution of MRE of adaptation from a practical perspective, through three core questions:

  • What is meant by MRE of adaptation?
  • Why is MRE of adaptation at national level important for policymakers and practitioners?
  • What are the distinct challenges we should be aware of in order to develop effective national level MRE approaches?

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Defining MRE

Much of the literature on MRE of adaptation refers to ‘monitoring and evaluation’.  Box 1.1 below explores these two terms and explains the addition of ‘reporting’ into the MRE term used throughout this report.  MRE can occur at a range of scales from individual projects in a specific locality to large programmes, policies and funding mechanisms spanning international boundaries.  The focus of this report is specifically focussed upon the national level.

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As can be seen in later chapters, the ‘national level’ can be interpreted in different ways. For some countries it may specifically relate to a process of assessing and tracking the implementation of the National Adaptation Strategy or Plan (NAS/NAP) and its associated actions, while other countries may take a broader view using MRE to understand changing vulnerability and risk levels across the country, albeit often against the backdrop of the NAS/NAP. National level MRE can involve consolidating and distilling information from other governance levels in order to gain an understanding of adaptation progress. Chapter 2 considers these differing framings of ‘national level’ in more detail, as these can influence the methods applied, and the governance and structure of MRE systems, including who is responsible and which stakeholders are engaged.

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Box 1.1: What do we mean by MRE?


Monitoring, reporting and evaluation are distinct yet closely linked processes.


Monitoring refers to a continuous process of examining progress made in planning and implementing climate adaptation. This might also include monitoring the context and environment within which adaptation occurs or drivers which shape resilience and vulnerability. The objective of monitoring can be described as being “to keep track of progress made in implementing an adaptation intervention by using systematic collection of data on specified indicators and reviewing the measure in relation to its objectives and inputs, including financial resources.” (EEA 2014)


Evaluation refers to a systematic and objective assessment of the effectiveness of climate adaptation  plans, policies and actions, often framed in terms of the impact of reducing vulnerability and increasing resilience.

Evaluations usually draw upon a range of quantitative and qualitative data, including those gathered through monitoring processes. Evaluations are undertaken at a defined point in the project or policy cycle; ex ante or midterm evaluations focuses on ways of improving a project or programme while it is still happening. An ex post evaluation seeks to judge the overall effectiveness of an intervention, usually after a project or programme has been completed (EEA 2014).



Reporting is the process by which monitoring and evaluation information is formally communicated, often across governance scales.

It can allow the assessment of adaptation performance, and facilitate learning, on different scales, for example by providing an overview of progress across the EU.  Reporting on adaptation can be voluntary or a legal requirement depending on the governance context or the reporting mechanism used.

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