Since its inception in 2015, the National Adaptation Plan (NAP) Global Network has received an increasing number of requests from developing countries for technical support related to the development or revision of climate change risk assessments (CRAs) and monitoring, evaluation, and learning (MEL) systems for NAP processes.
The NAP process was formally established under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in 2010.
This domestic process enables countries to establish the systems and capacities needed to ensure that climate adaptation is systematically integrated into a country’s decision-making process rather than treated as a separate, ad hoc exercise (Hammill et al., 2019).
The ultimate objective of the NAP process is to achieve climate-resilient development.
Countries have shown interest in CRAs as part of their NAP processes. While most have already conducted some form of CRA, a detailed and up-to-date understanding of which regions, ecosystems, economic sectors, and populations are most vulnerable to climate impacts—and why—is still missing in many countries.
In addition, as countries are moving from planning to implementing their national adaptation priorities, they increasingly need to track progress, understand the impacts of their interventions, and report for accountability and learning purposes.
Interestingly, limited attention has been given—both theoretically and in practice—to the link between CRAs and the MEL of national adaptation until now. CRAs have been primarily designed to inform the development and updating of adaptation policies and interventions.
This role should remain an important priority to ensure that NAP documents, and NAP processes more broadly, are evidence-based. CRAs must inform the development of NAPs by identifying adaptation measures that respond to current and future risks and vulnerabilities.
In addition, CRAs can also contribute to the MEL of NAP processes in different ways. For example, CRAs can identify priority actions that should be tracked in countries’ MEL systems. They can also help measure changes in risk and vulnerability over time, and this information can then be used as a basis for assessing the success of adaptation measures.
As countries are still struggling to understand if and how adaptation measures are reducing risks and vulnerabilities to climate change, this report explores the potential for CRAs to be used as a tool for assessing adaptation effectiveness. The report expands on the implications of this approach for designing or updating CRAs and MEL systems for NAP processes.
This report has been prepared primarily to inform governments involved in the NAP process and development partners who are supporting countries with their NAP processes to ensure that they do not miss an opportunity to link national CRAs with the evaluation of adaptation effectiveness.
In line with the latest definition in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Sixth Assessment Report (Ara Begum et al., 2022), we use CRA as an umbrella term that refers to the assessment of climate change impacts, vulnerability, risks, and/or adaptation (or resilience), recognizing that countries focus on different elements of CRAs using a variety of approaches, depending on their needs and priorities.
The analysis focuses specifically on assessments conducted at the aggregated level to inform national climate adaptation planning (i.e., national CRAs) instead of focusing on CRAs conducted at sub-national, project, or program levels.
The findings in this report are preliminary, based on key informant interviews with 12 countries and a non-exhaustive literature review.
In Section 2, we clarify the theoretical role of CRAs in measuring adaptation effectiveness. Then, in Section 3, we provide an overview of the process used for conducting the analysis. Results are presented in Sections 4, 5, and 6. We conclude by distilling some lessons learned and recommendations in Sections 7 and 8.
Twelve focus countries that have undertaken, or plan to undertake, regular national CRAs as part of NAP processes were selected for this study: Austria, Finland, Germany, Nepal, New Zealand, Peru, Rwanda, South Africa, Sweden, the United Kingdom, the United States, and Zambia.