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Evaluating adaptation: an analysis of policy progress in coastal cities and regions

Keywords: Adaptation, Urban, Policy, Assessment, Monitoring, Evaluation, Locally-Led, Multi-level governance, Learning, Maladaptation.

Author(s): Marta Olazabal, William Lewis, Kayin Venner, María Ruiz de Gopegui Aramburu, Elisa Sainz de Murieta, Sascha Mahawelatanne Goonesekera, Ibon Galarraga

Date: 2023-15-06

Issue: PB 2023-02

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Although larger cities seem to be hotspots for adaptation action, more than 50% of larger coastal cities worldwide do not have plans in place (only 59 cities out of the sample of the 136 largest coastal cities worldwide).
There is a need to align adaptation policies with climate risks, this can be informed through two assessment frameworks: the Adaptation-Risk Policy Alignment (ARPA) framework and the Adaptation Policy Credibility (APC) framework.
The ARPA framework was tested in four early adapter cities. The pilot showed that the gap between adaptation planning and actual implementation still remains.
The APC framework was applied in 59 cities worldwide with adaptation policies and was shown to be useful in providing an overall idea of the likelihood of adaptation policies being delivered and sustained in the future.
When looking in detail into M&E frameworks of city plans, only 11 of the 59 cities listed adaptation indicators and metrics and the majority focused on outputs (95%), i.e. what is implemented, rather than outcomes - the objectives to be achieved.
Although cities are finding new innovative ways to integrate learning and reflect on outcomes, there remains a persistent disconnect between the production of climate science and the implementation of practical and context-specific adaptation actions.
Our new project ‘IMAGINE adaptation’ (2023-2027) addresses the urgent need to evaluate adaptation in urban areas and understand progress across governance levels. Analysis of policy progress can be a useful first step, but it is not indicative of effective adaptation.

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