Implement and Adaptively Manage the Strategy

Implementing and adaptively managing the strategy is the fourth and last phase of climate risk management for strategies, after incorporating results of the strategy-level climate risk screening.

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Climate Risk Management for Strategy Design and Implementation: Phase 4.
The fourth phase of climate risk management for strategies is implementing and adaptively managing the strategy. Implementing and adaptively managing involves incorporating incorporating CRM in monitoring, evaluation and learning processes as well as into projects and activities that flow from the strategy to ensure climate risks are addressed and adaptively managed. It also involves periodically assessing and adjusting plans. You may navigate this graphic to jump directly to the specific steps of implementing and adaptively managing the activity, or to jump to other phases of the CRM process.

Climate risk management (CRM) should be incorporated, as appropriate, into implementation and monitoring, evaluation and learning to ensure climate risks are addressed and adaptively managed. It should also be incorporated into later stages of the program cycle to ensure all projects and activities appropriately consider and address climate risks. This phase involves the following three steps:

  1. Incorporate in Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning Processes
  2. Incorporate in Projects and Activities
  3. Periodically Assess and Adjust

CRM Resources for Implementing and Adaptively Managing Strategies

A. Incorporate in Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning Processes

The main purposes of incorporating CRM into Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning (MEL) processes, such as the Performance Management Plan, are to ensure climate risks are adaptively managed and to capture and share learning.

Climate risks are inherently uncertain and probabilistic, and therefore cannot be predicted perfectly. Therefore, ensuring climate risks do not negatively affect USAID’s strategic objectives and the journey to self-reliance requires continued monitoring, learning and adapting as we develop a greater understanding of the climate risks and associated impacts.

At the strategy level this may take several forms. First, the design team could consider formulating several overarching evaluation questions that are considered during periodic reviews, such as the required midpoint stocktaking, to ensure the appropriate climate risks have been identified and addressed. These questions could be targeted toward the overall strategic objective or on specific sectors where climate risks are less well understood. Second, strategy level MEL processes can outline a framework for how other stages of the program cycle will approach MEL associated with climate risks. This can help ensure that the learning across all projects and activities is coordinated. Third, the design team could consider developing a contingency plan that triggers additional monitoring and learning if a large climate shock (e.g., drought, flood, cyclone) occurs to increase the mission’s understanding of how such events affect USAID’s strategic approach.

In the end, MEL processes should be designed to determine if country development cooperation strategy (CDCS) implementation is on track and expected results, including management of climate risks, are being achieved. The CRM MEL guide highlights several tools to support monitoring, evaluation and learning throughout the program cycle. For example, context indicators can help USAID understand how climate may be impacting results and can be used to inform adjustments to the CRM approach. Evaluations can help determine the effectiveness of CRM measures and if/how they contributed to activity outcomes. Learning provides an important opportunity to reflect on knowledge gaps related to climate risk management and how those can be filled through monitoring, evaluation or by other means (e.g., research).

B. Incorporate in Projects and Activities

Many of the benefits of CRM will only be realized if consideration of moderate and high risks filters down through the program cycle to inform on-the-ground activity implementation. While, USAID has developed tools to facilitate this process (e.g., Climate Risk Management at the Project and Activity Levels), the strategy level climate risk screening and greenhouse gas mitigation analysis can help by laying out the overarching approach the mission will take.

To ensure CRM filters effectively down through the program cycle, design teams should outline a process and identify key stakeholders. Often the Program Office will play a key role as they are typically involved in the development of all projects and activities. While the mission’s climate integration lead and the mission environmental officer can provide additional technical support, technical staff hold the main responsibility for assessing, addressing and adaptively managing climate risks in their projects and activities.

Generally speaking, this process should be straightforward if the climate risk screening, climate risk measures, MEL approach, and other next steps are well documented in the CDCS narrative and mandatory Climate Change Annex. It should be remembered that risks identified as low at the strategy level do not need to be addressed or re-evaluated at other phases of the program cycle. If the screening indicates a need for additional analyses to address climate risks, or if the team learns new information about potential climate risks as projects and activities become more defined, additional assessments may be necessary later in the program cycle.

C. Periodically Assess and Adjust

Climate risk management is an iterative process and USAID should periodically take stock of how CRM is going during implementation and make adjustments as needed. Monitoring, evaluation and learning are critical inputs to this, and the MEL plan can include designated times for pausing, reflecting on learning to date, and pivoting or adjusting the approach to managing climate risks as needed. These “pauses” can also be a time to reflect on whether climate risks that were accepted during the assessment should instead be addressed, and whether new or additional climate risks may have manifested during implementation. USAID may want to re-apply the Climate Risk Screening and Management Tool at midpoint to help determine how to adjust its approach to managing climate risks.