Methodological approach

MRE is becoming an increasingly important theme as countries across Europe develop and implement adaptation policies and interventions. The significance of MRE for adaptation is evident in emerging national level MRE systems as well as in European policy.

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A useful starting point from which to understand MRE progress at national level in Europe are the results of a self-assessment survey by countries undertaken by the European Environment Agency (EEA, 2014). This survey revealed the following:

  • Eight countries are currently implementing a monitoring system, a reporting system or an evaluation system (MRE): Austria, Finland, France, Germany, Lithuania, Spain, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. Six additional countries are working on MRE systems and 11 are planning to do so in the future.
  • Countries reported that they are considering monitoring, reporting and evaluation systems for a range of different purposes. These vary from evaluating the preparedness of a country to evaluating a specific policy measure.
  • Countries are using a variety of approaches for their MRE systems including the application of indicators and self-assessment by actors in different sectors.
  • Ten countries out of 22 reported that they are implementing, or developing indicators on climate impacts, risks and adaptation. There are many challenges when developing indicators such as the long time-frames and the availability of data.
  • Countries are planning to use the information from their monitoring and evaluation systems to revise either their national strategy or plan. This suggests that countries have recognised that adaptation is an iterative process whereby learning from planning, implementation, MRE systems and new information from research are fed back into the process to improve the adaptation interventions.

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This assessment provided valuable headline information regarding MRE progress in the broader context of adaptation policy development but little insight into exactly what each country was doing to progress MRE and the challenges they face. Discussions with member countries undertaken during 2015 highlight the dynamic situation regarding national MRE systems and since the EEA report in 2014, many countries have made further progress with the MRE efforts, while others have recognised the significance of MRE and so taken their first steps in this field. This reinforces the need for, and timeliness of, this EEA report which aims to build on these higher-level findings to understand the challenge of adaptation MRE in more detail.

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The need for effective MRE for adaptation is also reflected in European policy. MRE is key element of the EU Adaptation Strategy (EC, 2013a) and is included in the guidelines for formulating adaptation strategies (EC, 2013b) at national level.  In addition, the European Commission will assess the status of adaptation in the EU through Member State's reporting (e.g. Monitoring Mechanism Regulation (MMR)) and the adaptation preparedness scoreboard including indicators for measuring Member States' level of readiness (EEA 2014). These policy drivers should encourage further action on MRE within European countries and also increase the demand for knowledge sharing on this important topic.

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In this context the EEA held an expert workshop on ‘Monitoring, reporting and evaluation of climate change adaptation at national level’ (24-25 March 2015 at the European Environment Agency) which is a key source of information from which the findings in this report were elaborated[1]. Experts from the 13 European countries that have adaptation MRE system in place, or are currently developing an adaptation MRE system at national level were invited to the workshop and supported its preparation by answering, on a voluntary basis, a survey of seven questions addressing this report’s main topics[2].



[1] Information about this expert workshop, including the list of participants and the agenda, is available at: http://forum.eionet.europa.eu/nrc-climate-change-adaptation/library/workshops-meetings/expert-workshop-monitoring-reporting-and-evaluation-mre-climate-change/

[2] i.e.: Austria, Belgium, Finland, France, Germany, Lithuania, Malta, The Netherlands, Norway, Slovak Republic, Spain, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom. See also Chapter 2.8 ‘Key topic 8: Monitoring, reporting and evaluation’ of the 2014 EEA report ‘National adaptation policy processes in European countries — 2014’ (http://www.eea.europa.eu/publications/national-adaptation-policy-processes).

The pre-workshop survey can be accessed at: http://forum.eionet.europa.eu/nrc-climate-change-adaptation/library/workshops-meetings/eea-expert-workshop-monitoring-reporting-and-evaluation-mre-climate-change

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This report represents a first phase of work on adaptation MRE, and focuses on a limited and selected number of European countries. This is due to the fact that across European countries progress on adaptation varies considerably (also in terms of governance, administrative structures, sets of stakeholders and overall approaches to adaptation) and on adaptation MRE specifically, making it challenging to provide comprehensive and consolidated information across all European countries. Despite these differences, the experiences of countries having an adaptation MRE system in place or currently developing one have the potential to offer an essential information base to learn from and to support countries which are planning to develop MRE systems in future.

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In addition, this report builds upon and used the following sources of information:

  • The Monitoring Mechanism Regulation (MMR) reports submitted under Article 15 by all 28 European Member States in 2015 to the European Commission.
  • Direct contacts with country authorities responsible for coordinating adaptation activities (EEA's National Focal Points (NFPs)/National Reference Centres (NRCs) for climate change impacts, vulnerability and adaptation, and EC-DG CLIMA’s National Contact Points (NCPs) for adaptation), particularly in connection with developing the country examples.
  • The information available on Climate-ADAPT’s country pages, on national web sites and in national documents.
  • A range of studies (e.g. OECD, 2015, 2014; GIZ/IISD, 2014, WRI, 2011) that provided a very useful overview of past experiences and thinking about adaptation MRE both in developed and developing countries.

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Through a series of technical and writing workshops, key topics were selected and drafts of the report were produced. A draft of the report was provided for European Environment Information and Observation Network (Eionet) consultation in September 2015.

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A number of caveats should be applied to this report and its findings. While information from countries have been provided by national bodies coordinating adaptation activities (primarily by ministries for the environment and/or environment agencies) and national experts, the time schedule for developing this report was rather short for an in-depth analysis of adaptation MRE systems in Europe. In addition, adaptation is an emerging policy area in a stage of rapid development in many European countries, thus presenting a challenge for this report to include the latest up-to-date information. Notwithstanding these limitations, the report provides new and up-to-date insights into adaptation MRE systems at national level in Europe. In doing so, it seeks to draw out transferable lessons and experiences from emerging MRE practice that will be relevant to organisations and individuals that are at a variety of stages in developing MRE approaches.

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The EEA would like to acknowledge the willingness to share information and intense interest in learning from each other demonstrated by member countries (also through direct contacts with individuals within the responsible departments and/or organisations). The number of country examples included in the report reflects specifically this interest since background information was primarily provided by country representatives and experts.

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Figure 1: 13 European countries have or are currently developing an adaptation MRE system at national level (as of September 2015)

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