What am I evaluating?

Setting clear boundaries around what you are going to evaluate (and what you are not) will help you to select the most appropriate methodology.

There is a huge range of possible adaptation interventions for all sectors, responding to a number of impacts (heat, rainfall, wind speed, sea level rise, etc.). Be sure to account for any existing evaluation data and standards for your particular sector.

Questions to consider:

  • Does the activity or intervention you are evaluating involve building adaptive capacity, adaptation actions or both?
  • Does your evaluation focus on a particular sector or discipline? If so, are there particular data sources or standards which might be applicable to your evaluation?

Adaptive Capacity or Adaptation Action?

It may be useful to think about your adaptation activity as either Building Adaptive Capacity (BAC) and Delivering Adaptation Actions (DAA). In practice, your activities may relate to both categories, but this distinction may help you to think about what you are evaluating and how performance and progress can be best assessed.

Building Adaptive Capacity

Building Adaptive Capacity (BAC) involves developing your organisation’s capacity to respond effectively to climate change. This means compiling the information you need and creating the necessary regulatory, institutional and managerial conditions for adaptation actions to be undertaken. BAC activities include:

  • Gathering and sharing information (e.g. undertaking research, monitoring data and company records, and raising awareness through education and training initiatives);
  • Creating a supportive institutional framework (changing standards, legislation, and best practice guidance, and developing appropriate policies, plans and strategies);
  • Creating supportive social structures (changing internal organisational systems, developing personnel or other resources to deliver the adaptation actions, and working in partnership).

In order to evaluate adaptive capacity, you will need to identify the activities required to further adaptation in your intervention. This will enable you to establish monitoring systems and to evaluate progress. Process Indicators (link) provide a means of measuring how a service or intervention has been delivered.

Adaptive capacity can be framed in many ways – there is no definitive list of possible activities. Please see the resources section for an introduction to the concept of adaptive capacity and how it may be measured or evaluated.

Delivering Adaptation Actions

Delivering Adaptation Actions (DAA) involves taking practical actions to either reduce vulnerability to climate risks or to exploit positive opportunities, and may range from simple low-tech solutions to large scale infrastructure projects. DAA can include:

  • Accepting the impacts, and bearing the losses that result from those risks (e.g. managed retreat from sea level rise)
  • Off-setting losses by sharing or spreading the risks or losses (e.g. through insurance)
  • Avoiding or reducing one’s exposure to climate risks (e.g. build new flood defences, or change location or activity)
  • Exploit new opportunities (e.g. engage in a new activity, or change practices to take advantage of changing climatic conditions).

Adaptation Actions can be evaluated using a range of standard approaches. However, the complex and long term nature of some adaptation actions can be more difficult to evaluate – see What challenges might I face?