1.3. Why is MRE important at national level?

It is useful to understand how the characteristics of national level MRE systems compare to MRE of adaptation at other scales. Perhaps the most common scale at which adaptation progress and performance has been assessed is at the project or programme level. Monitoring and evaluation is a well-established element of the project management cycle and is usually an expected and necessary element of any project or programme, irrespective of field or sector.  Project and programme evaluations usually reflect a defined and bounded set of project objectives and outputs; if the project is well designed it is relatively easy to determine what is within the scope of MRE activities.

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Portfolio level is another scale at which MRE of adaptation has been considered within the growing body of guidance and frameworks. This refers to a portfolio of projects often determined by organisational or funding boundaries rather than geography, for example Climate Investment Funds (CIF) funded activities or the ‘adaptation portfolio’ of an international NGO. In such cases MRE systems can help to read across, and synthesise, findings from a range of adaptation activities, sometimes implemented by different agencies in very different socio-cultural contexts. However, establishing appropriate methods such as indicators can be difficult; the number and type of indicators that are applicable across a portfolio of activities is often limited, meaning the level of detail they can provide may be compromised. 

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National level MRE presents its own set of challenges, albeit with some similarities to portfolio-level MRE. While there are usually defined geographical boundaries at national level, establishing a clear picture of adaptation progress and performance can be difficult. It involves gathering data across a range of sectors and spatial levels and requires an understanding of the complex web of decisions and policies which can act to enable and block effective adaptation. It also must account for adaptation efforts implemented by a range of agencies and organisations and for both planned and, where possible, autonomous adaptation. As is illustrated later in this report, countries have employed a number of approaches in order to more clearly define the scope and nature of their adaptation MRE systems.  These include applying climate change resilience as an overarching objective (therefore understanding changing resilience, vulnerability and risk become key ‘measurables’) or using National Adaptation Plans as the frame for national level MRE. The latter raises interesting issues concerning scope and coverage; should MRE systems focus only measuring the specific objectives and actions within a NAP or should they also account for indirect (social, economic and environmental) drivers of changing resilience and vulnerability? In chapter 2 we explore how European countries have defined the scope of national level adaptation MRE systems and frameworks. 

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