2.4. Application of MRE results for adaptation policy and practice

Key messages

  • In general, very few experiences are available on the actual application of MRE results on adaptation policy and practice across European countries as only a few countries have MRE systems in place, and this for a very limited period.
  • From the few countries with MRE systems in place, evidence is available that MRE results already inform the revisions of Adaptation Strategies and Plans. However, little is currently known about the influence of MRE results on adaptation practice on the ground.
  • European countries have started to use various formats to communicate MRE results. A focus is put on MRE reports for communicating results in an understandable way to the intended target group (which is most often policy and decision makers).
  • Learning and sharing experiences about MRE systems could be enhanced to further optimise adaptation policies and effective practice.

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Monitoring, Reporting and Evaluation (MRE) constitutes an essential part in the policy cycle to continuously improve adaptation policy and practice. This section aims to highlight the extent to which MRE results are currently being taken up in adaptation policies and sheds light on the implications for adaptation practice. Furthermore, current practices on enhancing the impact and communicating the results of MRE are presented as well as related experiences with involving relevant stakeholders. Finally, we explore how the link between MRE results and policy responses might be strengthened in order to better inform policy development as well as practice and enhance learning as envisaged in the policy cycle.

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Application of MRE results to inform future adaptation policy

As summarised by workshop participants, in general terms MRE results can be utilised in a number of ways, summarised as follows:

ð raise awareness of adaptation in various sectors (and at various levels of governance);

ð build capacity among stakeholders and support learning (e.g. to foster mainstreaming in other sectors);

ð identify shifting baselines for climate change impacts and adaptation

ð assess trends for vulnerability in specific sectors or for specific risks;

ð provide concrete recommendations for adjusting policies and measures (policy revision and intervention);

ð identify knowledge and data gaps;

ð highlight further research needs.

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This list shows that countries see the application of MRE results closely connected to the identified purposes of MRE (see Chapter 2.1 on drivers and purposes of MRE), which to some extent is a precondition for really making use of the results. It is critical to examine how the results of MRE are actually being used and how they influence adaptation policy and practice in European countries. Evidence shows that experience on actual application of MRE of policy and practice is still limited (see Table 2.6). This is mainly due to the current stage of adaptation policy implementation in Europe where only a few countries have progressed to developing and more importantly applying an MRE system. As a result, there is limited evidence of the actual influence of MRE results in policy and practice.

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So far, European countries use MRE results mainly to adjust and revise their National Adaptation Strategies and Plans (e.g. Finland, France, Spain, UK). Most of the MRE systems are applied at the national level and thus, results mainly influence the policy making at this level. Only little is known about MRE of adaptation practice on the ground, thus the influence of MRE results on adaptation practice is difficult to judge.

The following example (Box 2.14) presents a case from France and an approach on how to use outcomes from monitoring and evaluating for further development of the National Adaptation Plan.

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Table 2.6: Examples of the application of MRE results across European countries with focus on NAS and NAP


Application of MRE results


The first Austrian Implementation report has been published in summer 2015 and adopted by the Austrian Council of Ministers. Results will be used for the revision of the NAS planned for winter 2015, but the actual impact on policy/practice is still unknown.


Systematic application of adaptation MRE results is yet to take place, but evaluation results are being used to improve an action plan addressing heat waves as a specific climate risk


Results of the NAS evaluation (published in 2013) were used to inform revision of the strategy, published in late 2014.


Mid-term self-evaluation of the National Adaptation Plan (published in early 2014) has been integrated into the Ministry roadmap (published in early 2015) to improve most important failures of the first plan. Those remarks have been given as entry point of final evaluation pf NAP 2011-2015.


The first Monitoring report of the German Adaptation Strategy (DAS) supports the Progress report, foreseen for late 2015. The Monitoring report gives information on climate change impacts and ongoing adaptation. Together with information from the vulnerability assessment, it provides a base from which to develop adaptation policies further.



Every two years, the Government of the Republic of Lithuania prepares a report on the implementation of the NAS to the Parliament. The outcomes of the MRE will feed into further development of the Action Plan (2013-2016) and update of the NAS. 


Very limited application of results so far. Nevertheless, evidence is available that a group of policymakers at national and regional/local level have become interested in the results of MRE. Their interest focuses on learning from MRE and getting more systematic insights in the process towards achieving adaptation goals.


MRE results are not applied in a systematic way, but this might occur to some extent in some sectors.


Monitoring reports are available and widely disseminated to all stakeholders with responsibilities in planning and management of sectors and system that need to integrate adaptation to climate change. The outcomes of the monitoring reports are complemented to inform policy and practice. Monitoring reports are a key element to design the successive Working Programmes of the National Adaptation to Climate Change Plan.


The ASC has not formally reported yet and its reports to date have not been statutory, so have not had any response from government. In June 2015 The Committee on Climate Change published Reducing emissions and preparing for climate change: 2015 Progress Report to Parliament the first statutory report on adaptation (and mitigation) progress. The government is required to respond to Parliament on the findings and recommendations later in 2015.

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Box 2.14: Use of monitoring and evaluation results in France: moving towards a full policy cycle

  • Definition of indicators already in the NAP supports a focused monitoring of its implementation
  • A formalized process and structural involvement of high level agencies and committees in MRE improves the uptake of conclusions and recommendations in the next round of policy making

The French National Adaptation Plan for 2011-2015 includes actions and measures designed to help France to be prepared for and exploit new climatic conditions. Annual monitoring of the NAP’s implementation is carried out by the National Observatory on the Effects of Climate Change (Observatoire national sur les effets du réchauffement climatique, ONERC) based on indicators defined in the Plan. Results are published on the ONERC website. The annual review warns theme leaders on measure progress. The NAP had also secured the budget needed to go on with the adaptation measures.

In addition, a mid-term review based on a self-assessment was compiled in late 2013 and presented in early 2014 to the National Council of Ecological Transition (Conseil National de la Transition Ecologique, CNTE) composed of members of parliament, member of european parliement, local and regional government representatives, member of Economical Social and environmental council, NGO, civil service representatives and representatives from the scientific community. CNTE has stressed the results achieved, made recommendations to improve the implementation of actions suggested in the NAP, and defined implementation priorities for the remaining implementation period, such as the need of strengthening the adaptation activity in the education, communication and dissemination and the need of extending the adaptation to new sectors. The mid-term review also outlined adaptation actions supported at the local level within the framework of regional strategies or local plans and assessed their alignment with National Climate Change Adaptation Plan actions. The National Plan has improved the Climate Change knowledge and has provided adaptation tools to the local level.

The last stage is the final evaluation of the NAP 2011-2015, which was conducted on second half of 2015. This evaluation is more comprehensive and includes recommendations for forthcoming actions on climate change adaptation. It is carried out as an external evaluation independent of the stakeholders. In June 2015, General Council of the Environment and Sustainable Development (Conseil Général de l’Environnement et du Développement durable, CGEDD) was appointed to conduct the evaluation. The final evaluation is divided into two phases: firstly a diagnosis (due by end of October 2015) and secondly, the preparation of the second NAP. Results of the diagnosis will be presented directly to the Minister in charge of the Environment and to the CNTE. Synthesis report is intended to be available publicly online in MRE section of ONERC website and included into an ONERC annual report for to the Prime Minister and the Parliament in 2016. In addition to the evaluation report, the preparation of the second NAP (due in 2016) will be informed by the IPCC Fifth Assessment Report and outcomes of the COP21 in Paris.

French National Action Plan (in English):


MRE section of National Adaptation Plan (in French) :


Mid-Term Review (in French):


Wiklimat (in French): http://wiklimat.developpement-durable.gouv.fr/index.php/Wiklimat:Accueil

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The following example from Belgium (Box 2.15) presents the experiences and lessons learned during the evaluation of a national plan addressing one specific climate risk (heat waves). It shows how the results of the evaluation are used to further improve the heat wave action plan and its effectiveness.

Box 2.15: Evaluation of the national heat waves management plan in Belgium

  • Evaluation of the implementation of the heat waves action plan provided important information for updating the plan and improving the effectiveness of its actions.
  • Specific perspectives on the scientific basis of the action plan and its communication contribute to ensuring the relevance of the updated plan and its measures

In response to the heat wave in summer 2003 that caused an increase in mortality, Belgium developed a national action plan called the ‘Federal Ozone and Heat Wave Plan’, which in 2014 was turned into regional action plans. Following the first ten years of implementation, an evaluation was conducted to provide scientific information as background to update the plan in 2015-2016. The scientific report was published in 2014. 

The evaluation was carried out by the working group ‘Heat Wave and Ozone Peaks’ that was set up many years ago to prepare and coordinate communication actions of the action plan. The group works under the National Environmental Health Cell.

The scientific report was coordinated by this group with contributions from the Royal Meteorology Institute (RMI) and the interregional environment cell (IRCELINE) for the monitoring of environmental aspects and the Scientific Institute of Public Health (ISP) (for the monitoring of health impacts and mortality. The scientific report analysed meteorological parameters, air quality and mortality during the period 2003-2013, to provide conclusions on environmental and sanitary aspects and perspectives on future responses to heat waves and ozone.

The evaluation of the report has allowed the testing of some hypotheses and processes of the plan. The report concludes that the thresholds determined in 2003 for triggering the heat wave action plan have proved their pertinence. Nevertheless, there are still some potential improvements. For example, the evaluation recommended a complementary study to decrease uncertainties of the mortality monitoring model (Be-MOMO) that has since been launched. A separate evaluation of the associated communication campaigns implemented in the last decade is being considered. Together with the published evaluation, these studies will contribute to the updating of the heat wave action plan in 2015-2016.

A recent heatwave (in July 2015) has highlighted some additional needs to be taken into account in the future, including current criteria to activate the several phases of the regional action plans, the need to improve the correlation between health criteria and environmental threshold values, and the time lag between heat waves and the occurrence of their health impacts.

Thanks to the evaluation of the 10 years of the plan, it seems relevant to add more health criteria for the activation of the different steps of the plan. Indeed, the main objective of the plan is the protection of human health. Therefore, morbidity and mortality are important parameters that we need to master. In that perspective, a new real-time monitoring system of the data from the national emergency services is going to be established. This new system draws on projects such as the EU SIDARTHa (European Emergency Data Base System for Information on Detection and Analysis of Risk and Threat to Health). At the end, it would allow us to know the real-time impact of temperature and ozone on human health and thus, to raise the level of warning even if the temperature and ozone thresholds are not exceeded.

Evaluation report (in French): http://environnement.sante.wallonie.be/files/document%20pdf/rapport%2010%20ans%20vague%20de%20chaleur%20et%20pic%20ozone.pdf

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Given the fairly limited information and practical experiences on the application of MRE results across Europe so far due to the fact that so few MRE systems are in place and have only recently emerged in most countries, additional efforts will be needed in the coming years to make MRE effective and worth the resources spent. Much has been achieved in recent years in terms of developing Adaptation Plans and Strategies, however MRE will be instrumental in informing policy and decision makers to which degree adaptation policies are implemented and how effective adaptation measures are in meeting set adaptation objectives. Learning and exchanging experiences on how to use MRE results in the most effective way might help to advance this issue.

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The following success factors were put forward by MRE experts as ways to strengthen the link between MRE results and adaptation policy and practice and ensure that the application of MRE results is maximised:

  • Make the use of MRE results transparent when starting with developing systems (influences the set-up significantly);
  • Engage with stakeholders (not only when developing MRE systems but also to discuss preliminary results in order to exchange thoughts on the way of communication);
  • Enhance communication on MRE (use various means, focus on target groups);
  • Focus on dissemination, awareness raising and capacity building; and
  • Use MRE results to make sure that adaptation is a priority on the political agenda.

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Communication of MRE results

Although the application of MRE results is still at an early stage, some countries have begun the process of communicating MRE results. There is a tendency to do this by publishing formal reports on the results of MRE. So far, available reports from Austria, Germany, Finland, France, Spain and the UK have mainly addressed the adaptation policymakers. Most country reports put the focus on monitoring adaptation while the Finnish reports present evaluation results.

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Evaluations of the implementation of the Finnish Adaptation Strategy (mid-term evaluation in 2009 and full evaluation in 2012-2013) looked at whether and how the measures presented in the NAS have been mainstreamed in different sectors. Results of the evaluations were summarised by presenting each sector’s position on one of five “adaptation steps”, reflecting the level of adaptation based on the following elements: 1) recognition of adaptation needs, 2) availability of knowledge on climate impacts, 3) identification and implementation of adaptation measures, 4) cross-sectoral cooperation, and 5) level of mainstreaming (note: not all categories are included in all five steps). Further details see Box 2.8 in Chapter 2.3.


Finland’s National Climate Change Adaptation Plan 2022 (in English): http://www.mmm.fi/attachments/vesivarat/Fc3ezODON/mmm_ilmastonmuutos_eng_A4_v3.pdf  (Annex II summarises key results and recommendations of the evaluation)

Evaluation of Finland’s National Adaptation Strategy, 2013 (in Finnish):


Mid-term evaluation of Finland’s National Adaptation Strategy, 2009 (in English):


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The information presented in the Austrian Progress report launched in September 2015 is also based on a survey (“self-assessment” on the status of implementation of all adaptation measures included in NAP) and completed by a number of sector-specific indicators. The results will be used as input for further developing of the Austrian adaptation strategy and plan. The report also highlights future needs and scope for action for policy and decision makers at national and provincial level.

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In May 2015, Germany published its first Monitoring report prepared by the Federal Government’s inter-ministerial working group on adaptation to climate change (IWG Adaptation Strategy). The report is based on 102 indicators representing 13 sectors addressed in the German Adaptation Strategy (DAS).  Each indicator is presented in detail including graphs and text. The Monitoring report will be taken into account when developing the Progress report for the DAS to be expected by the end of 2015.

Link (report in German): http://www.umweltbundesamt.de/sites/default/files/medien/376/publikationen/monitoringbericht_2015_zur_deutschen_anpassungsstrategie_an_den_klimawandel.pdf

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The French National adaptation plan foresees an annual monitoring of its implementation and the documentation is requested to be made public. These results feed into a comprehensive review in 2013; the final review is scheduled for end of 2015 and will lead to a revision of the adaptation policies.

Link (reports in French):


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Monitoring reports on the progress of the Spanish National Climate Change Adaptation Plan are carried out periodically by the OECC (Spanish Climate Change Office), in coordination with the GTIA (Working Group on Impacts and Adaptation), and adopted by the CCPCC (Coordination Commission of Climate Change Policies) and the CNC (National Climate Council). Up to date, three monitoring reports have been produced and published in 2008, 2011 and 2013.

Link (reports in Spanish):


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The UK has published its first Progress report on the National Adaptation Programme implementation in June 2015. It has been prepared by the CCC’s Adaptation Sub-Committee, building on the ASC’s non-statutory progress reports published over the last five years. The UK progress report concludes with 36 recommendations to promote the pace and scale of climate change adaptation as well as to help the Government priorities areas for further intervention.

Link (report in English):


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Various means of communication are important to convey the right messages from MRE results. First of all, results need to be understood easily by the intended target group and must be of high relevance to them. In general, the target group can vary from policymakers to decision makers, affected stakeholders or the broader public. The various levels of knowledge on the topic should be considered when communicating MRE results. Closely related to the chosen target group, it is important to decide whether the MRE results are made publicly accessible or are limited to the intended target group (e.g. to public authorities). In case of the UK Progress report, the intended target groups are government officials and policy makers. For this specific target groups, important information is visualised in figures by using different colour schemes. For example, one diagram shows the progress being made by the National Adaptation Programme at a glance (Figure 2.5).

Figure 2.5 Summary of the ASC´s assessment of progress by the National Adaptation Programme, UK Progress Report (http://www.theccc.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/6.736_CCC_ASC_Adaptation-Progress-Report_2015_FINAL_WEB_070715_RFS.pdf)

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Quantitative indicators are viewed as a valuable communication tool, however, there is a challenge of providing a ‘headline’ whilst not over simplifying the message by losing contextual information required to make sense. Examples on the presentation of quantitative indicators are available in the first German Monitoring report. The figures presented therein show at a glance the trends of climate change impacts or adaptation relevant indicators (upward, decrease, trend reversal, no trend) for different sectors and indicates if the progress is positive (green), negative (red) or not possible to judge (black) (see Figure 2.6). In the German Monitoring Report, the graphical presentation of indicators is complemented with explanatory text which allows further investigation.

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Figure 2.6 Example on qualitative indicator showing the risk of forest fires (increasing trend, cf. brown line) and the actual forest fires in Germany (decreasing trend, cf. green line), German Monitoring report (http://www.umweltbundesamt.de/sites/default/files/medien/376/publikationen/monitoringbericht_2015_zur_deutschen_anpassungsstrategie_an_den_klimawandel.pdf)

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Furthermore, as scientists or policy makers are mostly not explicitly trained in communication, involving communication experts (e.g. PR department, graphic design) like in the Netherlands or the UK can create added value and enhance the impact of the MRE results.

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Direct interactions with stakeholders to discuss MRE (preliminary) results are crucial. Sharing knowledge and fostering learning through participation can help to increase the acceptance of adaptation policies and actions among stakeholders. Thus, in many countries consultation with governmental actors to discuss preliminary results are carried out. Germany has additionally used press conferences to provide information and inform the wider public. Also the Netherlands is getting more active in cooperating with the media on the issue of MRE. Experiences from the Netherlands show that media attention helps in raising public and political awareness for the topic.

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