Implementing the plan

Step 5. Implementing, monitoring and evaluating the plan

When the plan is designed, most of the work towards adaptation begins. Implementation is always challenging and different constraints and obstacles are to be expected. It is important to be ready for it, to prevent the common destiny of strategies and plans which often run the risk of remaining on paper. The approval or the endorsement of the adaptation plan is the first essential step to move towards implementation.  Notwithstanding its importance, this is not sufficient and the core team in charge of the plan elaboration should also set the ground for its implementation and design the related monitoring, reporting and evaluation (MRE) scheme.

  • Defining foundation elements for the plan implementation

Adaptation to climate change is a cross-sectoral, multi-level and multi-issue process that concerns all sectors of the society and requires action at multiple levels. As such, the implementation of an adaptation plan requires adequate institutional set-ups and governance frameworks to ensure effective, coherent and continued implementation. Coordination and cooperation along horizontal and vertical levels of governance are needed to integrate adaptation into all relevant policy areas and at all scales. Crucial for implementation is a dedicated team of local and sub-national leaders, supported by scientists and representatives of the local business sectors and the civil society. The establishment of this team (in the form of a committee, a board or any other option) is one of the first tasks to be done after the adoption of the plan. The implementing team can be the one in charge of the coordination of the plan design (see step 1) or a different one. Such a team is called to interact with a wide arena of subjects directly involved in the concrete transformation of the desired adaptation measures into actions. A clear policy-based mandate empowers the team coordinating the implementation phase, defining its objectives, setting the decision making process, and the rules for its functioning.

  • Mainstreaming the plan in other instruments in place or to be developed

Adaptation cannot be pursued in isolation from the existing policy and planning framework, covering both cross-cutting (e.g. sustainable development strategies and plans, urban plans, integrated coastal zone management plans, marine spatial plans, etc.) and sector issues (e.g. building codes, water management plans, health protection plans, transport management plans, etc.). Some specific measures can be implemented as a direct consequence of the adaptation plan, with specifically dedicated funds. Integrating (mainstreaming) some other adaptation measures into the existing policy instruments can raise the profile of the entire adaptation process, develop synergies and reduce conflicts among policies, ensure a more efficient use of resources and maximize co-benefits. Besides plans, a broad portfolio of instruments is available to mainstream climate change adaptation, including legal (e.g. laws, regulations, soft laws such as standards), economic (e.g. funding, taxes, fees, grants, loans), partnership (e.g. Public Private Partnership Agreements, voluntary agreements) and other strategic (e.g. strategies, programs) instruments. Bridging the gap between planning and implementation therefore requires the identification of the existing instruments which can better integrate adaptation and the way they will be adjusted, if needed. This phase of the process is also useful to assess whether new instruments will be put in place to foster the implementation of the adaptation measures. The analysis of the existing and new instruments starts at the very beginning of the process (step 1); this stage aims at providing clear, operational indication about how these instruments will be used to implement the planned adaptation measures. 

  • Monitoring the plan implementation and the adaptation process

Monitoring and evaluation are intrinsic components of any planning process. This is particularly relevant for adaptation, considering its long-term perspective and the great uncertainty characterising the evolution of the climatic system and the related effects. These steps are essential to evaluate the progress of the planned actions and to check the actual outcomes against the objectives set to ensure that an adaptation process is effective and sustainable over time. Important elements of a monitoring and evaluation scheme include: objectives, the methodological approach, a selection of suitable indicators, and a clear indication about how to use the results of the evaluation to improve actions for the future. Three major categories of indicators can be considered:

  • Process indicators, aiming to assess how the plan is developed, if all needed steps have been established and all needed stakeholders involved.
  • Performance indicators, aiming to assess if and how adaptation measures are implemented, according to the plan’s objectives and its implementation roadmap.
  • Impact indicators, aiming to assess the effects of the implemented adaptation measures, in terms of reduced vulnerability and increased resilience to the climate change, as well as the reached co-benefits.

To be really useful indicators must be complemented with the related targets.

  • Reviewing the plan

A good monitoring and evaluation scheme produces results useful to respond to a series of questions: Are we doing the right things? Are we doing things rightly? How is implementation progressing? Is the monitoring framework effective? Ultimately, monitoring and evaluation results can be used to revise and adjust an adaptation plan, which should actually be considered a living and evolving document.

Outcomes of step 5:

  • Approval or endorsement of the adaptation plan
  • Governance setup for the plan implementation
  • Policy instruments to mainstream climate change adaptation
  • Monitoring, Reporting and Evaluation (MRE) system of adaptation, including adaptation indicators.

An example of monitoring and evaluation:

When developing the Coastal Plan of the Šibenik-Knin County in 2015, one of the measures for introducing a management system was the establishment of the County Committee for ICZM. Members of the committee are the leaders of different county institutions and other relevant stakeholders, and the task of the Committee is to support the implementation, and to monitor and evaluate the progress of the implementation of the Plan’s provisions. The County Committee meets at least once a year to discuss the progress of the implementation, the state of the coastal zone environment, new challenges and opportunities, as well as to evaluate the success of the implementation of proposed measures.