CCC Adaptation Monitoring Framework

Assessing the effectiveness of adaptation action across the UK

29 March 2023

Type of publication:
Progress reports

Country focus:


3. How we monitor progress on preparing for climate change

We provided ten principles for good adaptation (Figure 1) in the Committee’s advice on the Third Climate Change Risk Assessment (CCRA3).[1] These principles help define the elements of robust adaptation decision-making needed to realise a well-adapted UK in a fair way.

Figure 1 Ten principles for good adaptation

Elements of these ten principles are embedded within our monitoring framework – in particular, the need to set out elements of what a well-adapted UK looks like to measure progress against. Elements of this vision are in place to varying extents within national adaptation policy programmes across the UK – but are not yet backed up with clear, specific and measurable targets for key aspects of climate resilience, to measure progress against.

In the absence of clear and operational national adaptation visions – underpinned by identified outcomes and targets – our monitoring framework focuses on thirteen critical thematic areas or sectors of the adaptation challenge (Box 1). These thirteen thematic areas cover the range of relevant identified risks from CCRA3. Within each chapter, we focus on the interacting assets and processes within each area or sector and consider the full range of relevant climate change risks. This approach helps to identify potential synergies (or trade-offs) in actions to tackle these multiple risks together.

Where relevant, our monitoring framework also considers risks arising from climate change outside of the UK (for example through disruption to global supply chains) together with risks from climate change in the UK.[2]

Box 1

Thematic areas for adaptation action

The thirteen themes for assessment in the monitoring framework focus on adaptation required to reduce the risks from climate change to:

  • Nature: Terrestrial (including on farmland), freshwater and marine habitats.
  • Working lands and seas: Agriculture, forestry and fisheries.
  • Food security: Domestic and imported food supply chains, as well as vulnerability of society to climate-related food disruption.
  • Water supply: Public water system which supplies households and businesses.
  • Energy: Key energy systems, the electricity system (transmission, distribution, and generation), gas networks and novel sources of energy supply (such as hydrogen) as they develop.
  • Telecoms & ICT: Communications and ICT infrastructure, including data centres, networks and other critical national infrastructure.
  • Transport: Road networks (both the national strategic road network and local roads), railways, ports and airports.
  • Towns and cities: The built environment at a settlement scale, covering flooding, coastal erosion and overheating risks.
  • Buildings: Individual buildings and their occupants, covering overheating and flooding.
  • Health: Public health, including mortality and morbidity, as well climate-sensitive vector-borne diseases and health care delivery.
  • Community preparedness and response: Preparedness of communities for climate impacts, including the ability to protect cultural heritage, and their ability to effectively respond when climate and weather-related disruptions occur.
  • Business: Businesses and their function as a commercial entity, including risks to supply chains (both domestic and international), sites and assets, access to capital and productivity impacts.
  • Finance: Financial system, so that systemic risks from climate change are minimised and it can effectively support the economy in investing in necessary adaptation actions.

Across these thirteen thematic areas, adaptation action in the UK needs to extend beyond risk assessment and planning to include a stronger focus on delivery and implementation of adaptation actions. This requires an approach which centres on the desired adaptation outcomes, and a theory of change[3] for how to achieve those outcomes through the policy levers available to Government.

As a step towards this, the CCC have mapped relationships between the outcomes required to meet adaptation goals, and policies and enablers. We then undertake an assessment of progress towards achieving the outcomes, along with the policies and plans in place, to evaluate the level of preparedness in each area.

The following sub-sections document the key elements of our monitoring framework that we apply to each critical adaptation area in our progress reporting.

[1] CCC (2021) Independent Assessment of UK Climate Risk.

[2] Some of the international risks UK identified in CCRA3 cannot be incorporated meaningfully within this framework due to their highly complex nature and the need for a global response to effectively address them. These risks are considered outside of this framework in our progress reporting. They are [ID3 International human mobility]; [ID4 Violent conflict overseas]; [ID5 International law and governance]; [ID10 Systemic risks cascading across sectors and borders]

[3] Theory of change – How we expect change to happen through a causal chain of actions and results. This maps out the expected outcomes of the intervention.

(a) Monitoring maps

Our assessment framework is centred around a ‘monitoring map’.

These specify tangible adaptation outcomes that the Committee believes are necessary to ensure resilience to climate change.[4] They also provide a set of enablers that are important to help deliver the identified outcomes, and key policy milestones that are needed to help deliver the outcomes and put in place necessary enablers. A good understanding of developments across all of these levels (outcomes, enablers, policy milestones) is needed to provide a full picture of progress towards building climate resilience and to identify key gaps to reaching adaptation goals.

The main elements of the monitoring map are:

  • Goal: These are overarching vision statements for each area which describe what being well-adapted to climate change looks like. As the specific vision statements vary across the UK’s national adaptation policy programme, we do not tie these explicitly to the current specifics of any one programme.
  • Required outcomes: We identify specific adaptation outcomes that are needed to deliver the adaptation goals. These outcomes break down the goal into manageable domains that may often also align with existing policy areas. Outcomes can be used for monitoring progress towards achieving the overarching goals.
  • Enablers: The identified outcomes will only be achieved if critical enabling factors are in place and barriers are removed. Enablers vary for each system, but include common themes such as funding and investment, research, and engagement and education. These enabling factors are particularly important for outcomes that will need to be delivered by the private sector (such as adaptation in businesses) or individuals. Public policy has a key role in helping to ensure that these enabling factors are put in place at sufficient scale.
  • Policies: We identify key roles and milestones for public policy and planning to deliver the climate resilience outcomes and to put in the place the necessary enablers. Some of these milestones may already be in place or partially in place under existing Government strategies and plans, but many others are currently not in place.
  • Contextual factors: We also highlight aspects of changes in the climate hazard, population or asset exposure and vulnerability that are largely (but often not entirely) independent of Government policy, but important for the challenge of building climate resilience. These include global and societal shifts, properties of the current relevant capital stocks and wider geopolitical circumstances (particularly for risks from climate change overseas).

These monitoring maps have been developed through engaging with a range of subject matter experts and stakeholders. While the maps imply a linear relationship, in practice there will often be feedbacks between different levels.

These monitoring maps will form the basis of our ongoing assessment approach to ensure a consistent and comparable framework, which enables tracking of progress over time. The monitoring maps also provide a degree of flexibility regarding the combinations of policies and actions possible to deliver effective adaptation and respond to changing contexts over time. The maps are designed so that the outcomes are applicable to the UK as a whole, as well as the four nations individually.

(i) Monitoring maps

[4] Resilience – The capacity of interconnected social, economic and ecological systems to cope with a hazardous event, trend or disturbance (IPCC, 2021). Resilience will look different in different contexts. The aim is not to adapt to one particular future or scenario but to withstand a variety of possible futures and scenarios, with harmful impacts minimised.

(b) Evaluating progress

To evaluate progress on adaptation within each area, we focus on evaluating progress against each identified outcome in two dimensions.

  • Delivery and implementation.
  • Policies and plans.

Both dimensions require judgements to synthesise disparate and often conflicting evidence sources. We describe our criteria for assessing each dimensions below.

(i) Delivery and implementation

We evaluate the relevant delivery and implementation based on an assessment of indicators identified for each adaptation outcome within the monitoring map. This evaluation focuses on available evidence from relevant indicator datasets.

  • We use a range of indicators to capture progress towards each identified outcome within the monitoring map. We choose indicators based on their relevance, practicality, and replicability over time.
  • Available indicators are often only a proxy for the outcome, and, in isolation, only tell a partial story. Multiple indicators often need to be considered together to provide an overall picture.
  • In many instances there are important data gaps or out-of-date indicators which mean indicators are not sufficient to evaluate current trends. The monitoring maps provide a useful way to highlight these data gaps.
  • Different indicators may be required to evaluate progress towards the same outcome in different parts of the UK. This is because some datasets are not UK-wide. For example, the Environment Agency collects data for flood risk in England, whereas other organisations collect flood risk data in other parts of the UK.
  • We assess quantitative data where possible but some important aspects of climate adaptation are innately difficult to measure. These areas require nuanced, qualitative treatment.

To summarise the full extent of the available indicator data for a specific outcome, we score delivery and implementation based on defined criteria (Table 1). These criteria look for overall evidence that relevant indicators exist, are moving in the right direction (for climate resilience) and are generally at a high level. We also highlight where the available indicator information is insufficient to allow for meaningful assessment of national-scale progress toward the delivery of the outcome. This may arise if datasets are partial, geographically incomplete, out-of-date, or lack sufficient measurement history to allow a trend in progress overtime to be estimated.

Table 1

Scoring criteria for delivery and implementation

Score Criteria
Good progress Indicators are moving in the right direction or being maintained at a high level​
Mixed progress Some indicators are moving in the right direction, others are stagnant at a low level or moving in the wrong direction​
Insignificant progress Indicators are stagnant at a low level or are moving in the wrong direction
Unable to evaluate Limited or no available data ​
(ii) Policies and plans

Our assessment of policies and plans summarises the strength of current Government (and public implementing agency) plans relevant to each adaptation outcome and assesses to what extent the key policy milestones identified within the monitoring map are in place. This allows us to identify important policy gaps or key areas that need to be strengthened.

There are a number of important factors relevant to our assessment of policies and plans.

  • We only assess fully published policies and plans in the scoring.
  • An overall judgement on the credibility of policies and plans is reached by scoring against the following questions:
    • Are the required policy milestones in place?
    • Are the policies and plans comprehensive and at an appropriate ambition level?
    • Is there a robust monitoring and evaluation programme in place?
  • Consideration is also given to aspects of good adaptation policy making such as preparing for unpredictable extremes, scenario planning, and avoiding lock-in of policies and technology that are not resilient.

The full scoring criteria for our policy and plans score is shown in Table 2.

Table 2

Scoring criteria for policies and plans

Score Criteria
Credible policies and plans Policy milestones:

  • are almost entirely achieved or in place ​
  • are comprehensive and appropriately ambitious​
  • include monitoring and evaluation
Partial policies and plans Policy milestones:

  • are achieved or in place for key milestones but some gaps remain​
  • cover most important elements, could be more ambitious​
  • include some monitoring and evaluation
Limited policies and plans Policy milestones:

  • are partially achieved or in place with some key milestones missing​
  • cover some important elements, could be more ambitious​
  • include some monitoring and evaluation
Insufficient policies and plans Policy milestones:

  • are mostly not achieved, only minor policies in place​
  • lack important elements, do not cover key areas or lack ambition​
  • have minimal monitoring and evaluation

(c) Recommendations

The monitoring maps allow us to identify key delivery and policy gaps within each adaptation area. We then develop targeted recommendations for further policy over the next few years that could help to close these key gaps. We identify owners for these recommendations within Government and implementing agencies and proposed timelines for their implementation.

In future reports we will evaluate the extent to which past recommendations have been implemented. We will score their implementation as follows:

  • Achieved: Recommended action has been achieved.
  • Underway: Progress has been made but some things are still underway.
  • Partly achieved: Some steps have been achieved, but gaps remain and are not underway.
  • Not achieved: Little or no progress towards achieving the recommended action.

Some of our recommendations to Governments are for important ongoing activities that cannot be ‘achieved’ entirely by a single date. For these recommendations, we assess them based on whether or not progress is being made. The criteria for scoring will be:

  • Sufficient progress: Since the CCC’s last review, the necessary ongoing action has been taken.
  • Some but insufficient progress: Some ongoing action has been taken since the CCC’s last review, but more is needed.
  • No progress: No action has been taken for the ongoing recommendation since the CCC’s last review.

Scoring of past recommendations – across the Committee’s remit – will be periodically updated and made publicly available.

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