By Neuni Farhad, Adaptation Research Project Officer
Cities are constantly adapting to climate change –– whether it’s installing flood barriers or planting trees, adaptation is a crucial part of climate action planning.
To help cities document the progress and impacts of climate change adaptation initiatives, we’ve partnered with Ramboll Consulting to develop a framework that cities can use to monitor, evaluate and report (MER) on their adaptation actions. The framework also provides a list of indicators for cities to apply to the most commonly adopted actions. The project was developed in 2018 and was piloted by three C40 Cities: Austin (USA), Johannesburg, (South Africa) and Quito (Ecuador).
Monitoring and evaluating the progress of climate actions is a crucial component of C40’s Deadline 2020. Cities must apply the MER approach to their documentation of the implementation (outcomes) and results (impacts) of their climate actions to better understand the impact of adaptation initiatives. C40’s Climate Change Adaptation Monitoring, Evaluation and Reporting (CCA MER) Framework is intended to help cities “make the case” for climate adaptation and incentivise targeted climate change adaptation initiatives for C40 and non-C40 cities.
The outcomes and impacts of climate change adaptation (CCA) actions have always been difficult to track and monitor, and there has been a lack of effective monitoring. Cities face a significant challenge in determining the successes and failures of their adaptation initiatives, making it challenging to make a case for adaptation, secure funding, and effectively implement initiatives. In light of these challenges, cities have come to see the CCA MER as a key priority in climate adaptation planning.
Piloting the MER Framework in the MER Pilot City workshop
The CCA MER is a framework by cities, for cities. Cities have been involved since the very beginning – initial interviews were conducted to collect the lessons learned in past experiences with adaptation initiatives and explore the different approaches they have used. Bringing three pilot cities on board early on in the process was essential, “It was very interesting to work with other cities as it has helped us to solve certain doubts and learn from other experiences,” said Cristina Argudo, C40’s City Advisor for the City of Quito.
The Framework consists of three main components: 1) a guidance document providing step-by-step guide to developing and implementing a MER framework for city practitioners, 2) an indicator matrix of key adaptation actions undertaken by cities across the globe and sample indicators that can be used to track the success of these actions, and 3) an indicator matrix manual to be used by cities when using the matrix. The three documents are intended to be used in conjunction with each other.
The framework and indicators address and acknowledge the high level of diversity in C40 Cities. A wide variety of cities should therefore be able to use these tools and guidelines to create an appropriate framework that takes into account technical skills, data availability, resources, and information gaps.
After piloting in three cities, the MER framework is able to make key recommendations based on their feedback. All three recommended that other cities use the MER Framework alongside the development of their climate adaptation initiatives. “Having a good understanding of the MER framework will help cities refine the actions and make it easier to track over time” said Marc Coudert, Environmental Program Manager, from the Office of Sustainability in Austin. The MER Framework is also crucial in facilitating cross departmental and city collaboration. Austin’s experience has led to city officials to include MER indicators in the city’s Strategic Direction 2023 plan in order to make sure the council is aware of the CCA efforts and staff are held accountable.
The MER Framework acknowledges the challenges of measuring adaptation and is developed with existing conditions in an effort to create something that will work for all cities. Rabelani Tshikalanke, Head of Climate Change and Resilience and Mzukisi Gwata, Principle Specialist of Climate Adaptation from the City of Johannesburg have noted that “the principle of applying the intervention logics (from the MER framework) has been proposed by our National Treasury. This approach is in use already within our national government.”
City of Johannesburg at the MER Pilot City workshop
To wrap up this project, the pilot cities presented their MER Frameworks and experiences in a series of webinars, and C40 has developed a MER module for our Adaptation Academy in Rotterdam to provide cities with technical assistance. To download the Measuring Progress in Urban Climate Adaptation Framework, please click on the link below and for further information please contact Snigdha Garg at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The MER Pilot City Workshop team in Austin