Capacity building for adaptation mainstreaming, monitoring, evaluation and learning – filling a gap

Climate change is one of the defining challenges of our time, and has the potential to undermine human development, erode or reverse economic growth, and adversely affect human wellbeing in a multitude of ways. This was nicely summed up in the 2007 UNDP Human Development Report, which opened with the statement that climate change “calls into question the Enlightenment principle that human progress will make the future look better than the past.”

While much is often made of the fact that greenhouse gas emissions appear to have stabilised in the last few years, the concentration of carbon dioxide (the most important greenhouse gas) is increasing more rapidly than ever, possibly due to the conversion of natural carbon sinks into carbon sources as temperatures rise. The prospects of limiting warming to no more than 2°C above the pre-industrial global average surface temperature are increasingly slim. To keep below the 1.5°C threshold, we need to reduce greenhouse gas concentrations below their current levels. Any serious mitigation of climate change will involve the large-scale deployment of measures to remove carbon from the atmosphere. Instead, we are continuing to add it at an unprecedented rate.

While mitigation is more urgent than ever, we are now committed to a certain level of warming, whatever we do. Meeting the commitments under the Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) that countries have submitted under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC) may reduce future warming, but will not limit it below 2°C. Once we reach 2°C, future warming may be locked in as a result of feedback processes in the climate system.

Adaptation is therefore a vital complement to mitigation. Indeed, the economic and political stability of many nations, and the material wellbeing of their populations, are likely to depend on how well they adapt to climate change and its impacts. Climate change will mean that existing systems and practices may not be viable in the future, as climatic and environmental conditions change, with knock-on effects on value chains, markets, commodity prices, purchasing power and a host of other factors. Existing systems might be ‘climate proofed’ so that they can continue to function – so-called ‘incremental’ adaptation. Alternatively, they may need to be radically altered or replaced with alternatives through ‘transformational’ adaptation. Climate change will change the sustainability equation: what is sustainable under current climatic conditions may not be sustainable in the future as climatic and environmental conditions evolve.

Identifying actual and potential climate change risks, and identifying, prioritising and supporting adaptation needs, will be essential to securing economic and human development. In other words, much future development will depend on the integration or mainstreaming of climate change adaptation into development plans, policies and programming. While this is widely recognised in the community of practice emerging around climate change adaptation, there is a long way to do before adaptation is fully integrated into policy and planning processes, and the level of capacity to do so remains low in many countries and institutional contexts. Once adaptation strategies and measures have been implemented, there will be a need to monitor and evaluate their success and learn lessons, so that any necessary adjustments can be made. Are interventions really helping people to manage evolving risks more effectively and maintain or improve their material wellbeing despite climate change, or are they just delivering short-term benefits that will not deliver long-term resilience, or that may even undermine it (i.e. ‘maladaptation’)?

While capacity building is central to many development and adaptation interventions, this tends to be delivered through individual programmes or projects in a rather piecemeal fashion. Similarly, while the importance of monitoring, evaluation and learning (MEL) is widely recognised, tracking the success of adaptation and resilience-building interventions remains extremely challenging.

In response to the need for more general, accessible capacity building around adaptation mainstreaming and MEL, Garama 3C has developed two short professional training courses, on (i) Climate Change Adaptation and Mainstreaming for Development Professionals (more details here), and (ii) Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) for Adaptation (more details here). These courses run for three and two days respectively, with the latter immediately following the former. They are open to any individuals and organisations that need to mainstream adaptation into their work and/or track the effectiveness of adaptation interventions, either individually (e.g. a single programme) or collectively (e.g. at the national or sub-national level). The courses are held in the UK, and have run since 2013, attracting participants from donor and recipient governments, multilateral development banks, other multilateral organisations including UN agencies, and the private sector.

Both courses consist of a mixture of taught sessions and practical exercises, aimed at providing participants with the skills needed to undertake adaptation mainstreaming and/or M&E, and to design systems and mechanisms to effectively integrate adaptation into institutional processes and planning.

The Adaptation and Mainstreaming course includes modules on global climate science and policy contexts, adaptation concepts and frameworks, key elements of mainstreaming, screening for climate risks and opportunities, climate risk and vulnerability assessment, and adaptation decision-making. Participants undertake exercises in which they screen a project for risks and opportunities, design a climate risk assessment, and identify some potential adaptation measures.

The M&E course outlines the challenges of adaptation M&E and familiarises participants with emerging M&E frameworks and approaches to the measurement of resilience. It addresses the use of conventional development indicators in conjunction with climate information for tracking adaptation effectiveness, and the use of M&E frameworks and systems for adaptation and resilience learning. Participants undertake exercises involving the identification of adaptation results at different levels (output, outcome and impact), the development of M&E frameworks and indicators, and the use of climate information and development indicators to track adaptation success.

The next set of training courses will be held on the campus of the University of East Anglia in Norwich, UK, in the week of 19-23 June 2017. Garama is currently exploring the possibility of running these and other courses outside the UK, in partnership with other organisations.

For more information on the existing courses, explore our website or send an email to training@garama.co.uk If you are interested in potential training partnerships (e.g. running one-off or regular courses outside the UK), please contact Nick Brooks, Garama’s Director, at nb@garama.co.uk.

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