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Evaluation that counts: A review of climate change adaptation indicators & metrics using lessons from effective evaluation and science-practice interaction

Arnott, James C., Moser, Susanne C., Goodrich, Kristen A.
Environmental science & policy 2016 v.66 pp. 383-392
cities, climate change, industry, landscapes, motivation, surveys, United States
Amid growing effort to move towards implementation of climate change adaptation, serious interest is emerging about how to use indicators and metrics (I&M) to evaluate adaptation success. Cities are among the leading experimenters developing I&M, but many other entities also view I&M as a tool for providing clarity and accountability about the goals and progress of adaptation. The current landscape of this work is scattered: I&M examples, frameworks, and guidance documents reflect motivations, contexts, and approaches as diverse as the field of adaptation itself. This study systematically surveys the “growth industry” of I&M, including a special focus on I&M approaches developed for cities anywhere and by US cities in particular. We classify these I&M efforts into four domains: those developed in academia, by program sponsors, boundary organizations, and on-the-ground implementers. With attention to theory on (program) evaluation and on science-practice interaction, we reveal a broad range of I&M evaluation purposes and collaboration practices. We conclude that evaluation of adaptation progress and effectiveness – if it is to usefully inform the work of cities or other implementers – would benefit from greater attention to the best practices and guidance offered in the related, but largely still separate, fields of evaluation and science-practice interaction.