Investing in climate resilience projects is crucial, but how do you know if they are truly making a difference? Many climate resilience projects are focused on systems change that is not easily measurable. Selecting appropriate indicators to assess your project’s progress is essential to understanding its impact, showcasing its successes, and informing future efforts.
The U.S. Climate Resilience Toolkit and ResilienceMetrics.org offer some guiding questions to get started on identifying indicators for projects. Brainstorming answers to the questions below with project stakeholders, including beneficiaries, will help yield meaningful indicators:
What is successful adaptation to climate change?
How would we know if we achieved successful adaptation?
How do we know if we’re moving in the right direction? How will we know if we’ve gotten off track?
What qualities would this community or system exhibit if it were well-adapted?
During this brainstorming activity, remember to stay focused on the unique nature of your project. For example, a climate resilience project in Tanzania is using nature-based solutions and ecosystem restoration as a holistic strategy to adapt to climate change - technically referred to as ecosystem-based adaptation - especially in landscapes hosting displaced populations. Project-specific indicators for this project include:
Capacity of communities and local authorities to conduct ecosystem-based adaptation planning and implement strategies and activities to respond to climate change and variability
Hectares of forest ecosystem protected and strengthened in response to climate variability and change
% of beneficiaries eating 3 meals per day
After this brainstorming activity, your list of potential indicators may be long or possibly incomplete. To ensure that your list of indicators is balanced, complete, and focused on what matters for your project, ask yourself these questions recommended by ResilienceMetrics.org:
Importance of indicators: What do stakeholders really want to know about the state of resilience, the progress made, and the results achieved? This line of inquiry gets to the core interests of those involved.
Completeness and balance of indicators: Have areas of concern or interests of stakeholders been addressed sufficiently? This line of inquiry gets to the completeness and balance of your indicator set.
Audience for indicators: Who is most invested in these indicators? Who wants to know and who needs to know? This line of inquiry helps define your audience for an evaluation.
Use of indicators: How and for what purpose will your indicators ultimately be used? This line of inquiry clarifies your purpose—the reason for developing indicators.
Need assistance with identifying indicators for your climate resilience project? Shaffer Evaluation Group is interested in partnering on climate resilience grant applications. As your pro bono grant application partner, our team will support you in identifying appropriate indicators and an evaluation design aligned with your project focus and funder requirements. For more information, please visit our website.