Approaches to Progress Reporting on National Adaptation Plan (NAP) Implementation

By Patrick Guerdat, International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD)

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– Article en français disponible ici –


Progress reports for National Adaptation Plans (NAP) can serve to inform members of government, the general public, and the international community of the progress countries have made on climate change adaptation. This is essential for the purpose of accountability, both upward to political leaders and donors, and downward to stakeholders and citizens. In addition, reporting progress on NAP implementation can support learning and offer recommendations for improving the next version of the NAP.

At least 12 developing and industrialized countries have already published progress reports for their NAP so far—a handful even more than once—while others are currently going through that exercise for the first time. As more countries are starting to implement their NAP process and are developing their monitoring, evaluation, & learning (MEL) systems, the question is becoming more urgent: how can countries report on the progress and results of adaptation actions to different stakeholders from the local to the international levels?

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This year, the NAP Global Network conducted a review of the available NAP progress reports. The results indicate that the reports differ in terms of the stated objectives, the approaches to evaluating the progress made, and the way the results are presented and communicated. We see that the process of developing NAP progress reports presents many challenges as well as many opportunities to strengthen NAP processes.



Overall, the objectives of the reviewed progress reports fall under three broad categories: decision making, accountability, and information sharing & communications. More specifically, they include one or more of the following, as indicated in these tables.

Primary Objectives:

Primary objectives Decision making Accountability Information Sharing/
Measure the implementation status of climate adaptation activities X X  
Evaluate the integration of climate adaptation in development planning X X  
Evaluate climate adaptation outcomes X X  
Evaluate the NAP process (e.g., effectiveness, institutional capacities, coordination, relevance) X X  
Table 1. Primary Objectives of the Reviewed Progress Reports



Secondary Objectives:

Secondary objectives Decision making Accountability Information sharing/Communications
Identify and highlight opportunities, challenges, gaps, and lessons learned related to the NAP implementation X   X
Make recommendations for an updated version of the NAP X    
Inform policy-making X    
Raise stakeholder awareness and engagement for improved climate action in different sectors and regions     X
Enhance the capacities of all sectors on the reporting process and building confidence in the protocols around information sharing on the NAP process   X X
Analyze the level of response of government agencies as contributors to the NAP implementation and increase their responsibility and accountability   X  
Inform the general public and international audiences on the country’s NAP implementation   X X
Table 2. Secondary Objectives of the Reviewed Progress Reports


The objectives of the progress reports and the resources available largely determined the different approaches used by countries for the collection and analysis of data and information, and for the presentation and communication of the results. For example, compared to tracking the implementation progress of adaptation activities, an evaluation of the NAP and its outcomes will usually require more time and an already operational monitoring and evaluation system of adaptation. On average, the development of the reviewed reports took from two months to a year to complete.

For the collection of data, dozens of stakeholders, on average (but up to a maximum of a few hundred), from all vulnerable sectors were consulted for the development of the reports. Various methods were used including self evaluations, group discussions, national and regional workshops, online surveys, face-to-face key informant interviews, stocktaking exercises, literature reviews, and online data collection tools such as Kobotoolbox.

For the analysis, approaches used to respond to the primary objectives included one or a combination of the following:

Measuring the implementation status of climate adaptation activities Evaluating the integration of climate adaptation in development planning Evaluating climate adaptation outcomes Evaluating the NAP process
Traffic light colour system
Percentages of implementation
Completion criteria
Qualitative evaluation of how well adaptation is integrated into policies, strategies, programs, and budgeting Risk heatmaps (impact, vulnerability) Readiness and preparedness criteria developed for qualitative assessment of progress made on governance factors such as institutional capacities, coordination, funding, or level of engagement of stakeholders
    Indicators using trend descriptions and appraisals Qualitative evaluation of the relevance and effectiveness of the NAP process, and how well it responds to recommendations from previous policy documents
    Development of overarching and sector-specific desired adaptation outcomes (DAOs) Survey of stakeholders’ views and understanding of climate change adaptation and the NAP process per sector and region 

Table 3. Primary Objectives of the Reviewed Progress Reports: Approaches Used

The examples below show how countries have used these different approaches in their progress reports. This is not an exhaustive list, and countries have often used more than just one approach. 


Results in the reports are largely organized in two ways: first, in an aggregated manner to provide a general overview of the implementation of the NAP, and then broken down by sector, theme, objective, or cross-cutting issue to look in more detail where progress on adaptation was made.

A combination of quantitative and qualitative methods was used in all reports. Some include an analysis next to the results (narrative description of the situation and trends), while others extract only the key results for the main part of the document using colourful charts and include the full results as an annex.

In terms of visualization, all documents used a combination of various tools to present the results: tables, traffic light colour codes, percentages of completion, trending arrows, bar and doughnut charts for survey results, and graphics for climate risks.

For the communication of the results, all progress reports were made available for download through the governments’ websites with a dedicated page to adaptation that included a summary of the findings, related documents and data, stakeholder meeting notes, and attendance lists.

Finally, a few countries chose to have more than one version of their progress report to include a shorter summarized version, or/and one translated into a second language.


Most reviewed documents included a section related to the challenges met during the progress reporting process. The main ones mentioned were the following:

  • Certain sectors did not have a good understanding of the NAP process, how it related to them, and their responsibilities in implementing it
  • The lack of coordination/leadership in certain sectors (e.g., turnover of persons in charge, no clear lead) made the reporting difficult
  • Systematic M&E of adaptation remains rare in most sectors
  • Insufficient responses due to competing staff time demand or tight deadlines
  • Getting official support from the Ministry in charge of coordinating the NAP process (e.g., mission letter) to give the progress reporting process more legitimacy
  • Unreliable data and lack of data in certain areas where the collection process is still at the initial stage
  • Technical difficulties associated with the lack of staff training on how to use new software or reporting templates

Having identified these challenges early on, some countries describe the opportunity of using the progress reporting process (interviews, stakeholder events) to raise awareness about the NAP process, strengthen it, and clarify the reporting needs and expectations sooner rather than later. Similarly, a mid-term evaluation and a first year of implementation evaluation have also been used in a few countries to help identify issues and address them before the end of the term.


Some noteworthy gaps remained in almost all of the reviewed documents:

  1. Very little reporting was done on gender and social inclusion, or which groups of people have benefited from the progress made in general.
  2. Reporting on the progress made on creating or strengthening strategic linkages between climate adaptation planning, implementation, and M&E between the national and subnational level, was also lacking.
  3. Few documents identify aligning progress reporting of the NAP with the various other international and domestic processes.
  4. Little mention of the next steps in terms of how the results would be communicated to national and subnational actors as well as to the international community.

Progress reporting as part of the NAP process is iterative, and each round of reporting should build on the previous one to avoid the same errors, capitalize on new opportunities, and identify new emerging topics. Lessons learned from what other countries are doing, or what tools they are using, can also provide new ideas. Ultimately, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to progress reporting. A country’s context along with its stated objectives and the resources available will guide the approach taken.


Learn more about our work on national monitoring, evaluation, and learning (MEL) for climate adaptation.