Topic 1: Co-evaluation, learning and capacity development to drive platform improvement

Submitted by Robin Hocquet | published 27th Aug 2021 | last updated 13th Sep 2021

Background: The KE4CAP Synthesis Report

This topic page forms a chapter of the KE4CAP Synthesis Report, which brings together learning from across KE4CAP's activities, including five virtual knowledge exchange events, three bilateral knowledge exchange event series, and the KE4CAP Survey (see Further Resources for links to relevant pages). The KE4CAP project is providing a global forum for developers and operators of climate adaptation knowledge platforms (CAPs) to come together to share knowledge and best practices, and to work together to address common and emerging challenges.

This early summary (September 2021) aims to provide food for thought for the KE4CAP Synthesis Workshop and will be followed by a more detailed and further illustrated synthesis report (and further developed topic pages) in December 2021. 

Introduction: Driving platform improvement

Understanding how a CAP is performing, identifying successes and areas for improvement, and developing the capacity to undertake and act on evaluations are widely recognised as key to delivering effective CAPs. Web analytics are providing useful insights into how CAPs are being accessed and how users are exploring them, but CAPs need user feedback to understanding if and why the platform and the services it provides are useful, how the information is being used, and what impact this ultimately has. Understanding this impact is crucial for improving CAPs and for making the business case for their financing but is often inhibited by a lack of resources.

Lessons Learnt

Current practices

  • Eliciting user feedback. CAPs use various methods to gain feedback from users on the platform and its services. Most common are user surveys (online and in person) and user workshops (either dedicated to evaluation or as part of related meetings). The engagement of steering committees, networks and other user reference groups has been highly valuable in providing early and ongoing input into the design and development of CAPs.
  • Tracking interactions. CAPs are using web analytics services and social media feeds to understand how many users are coming to and interacting with the platform and its tools, how users are entering the platform, and what journeys they take through the platform.
  • Monitoring, evaluation and reporting. Though most undertake some form of monitoring, evaluation and reporting (MER), few CAPs have formal MER or learning (MEL) procedures or frameworks in place. Formal MER activities are typically linked to wider policy and planning initiatives such as evaluations of National Adaptation Plans and adaptation strategies.

Selected innovations

Several platforms, including T-PLAT (Thailand) and CCCS (Canada), have built representative user groups and user-driven governance structures that promote co-development, provide high-quality user feedback, enable user-testing, and generate buy-in and uptake of the CAP and its services.

CCiA (Australia) has used disaggregated user survey data to identify significant differences in capacities, barriers, and needs amongst more established users compared to newer users.

The Intact Centre (Canada) have tracking and feedback functions built into some of their web-based applications to make it easier to monitor, report on, and continuously improve these programs.

As part of formal MRE processes, both CCAP (Canada), through a funded third-party evaluation, and Climate-ADAPT (EU) have developed and shared use-cases demonstrating how the CAP has been used and the impact it has had.

Shared challenges

  • Allocating funding (time) and capacity (expertise) for undertaking rigorous MER, in particular for user engagement to elicit high-quality and broadly representative user feedback.
  • Meeting the expectations and needs of increasingly numerous and diverse users.
  • Understanding how to undertake useful MER/MEL, including what indicators/metrics, frameworks and approaches to use, and how to apply them transparently.