This report presents the findings of all project evaluation activities carried out as part of the project ‘Enabling Gippsland Councils to integrate climate risk and adaptation into local and regional strategies’, which concluded in August 2016. The Centre for Urban Research at RMIT University was asked to develop and implement a project evaluation framework to measure the effectiveness of project actions and uncover changes and trends with regard to staff perceptions on, and organisational capacity for, climate change adaptation.
The overarching aim of the project evaluation was to ascertain the effectiveness of project actions in supporting six local governments (East Gippsland Shire, Bass Coast Shire, Baw Baw Shire, South Gippsland Shire, Wellington Shire, and Latrobe City) with embedding climate considerations into their organisation, as stated in the Project Delivery and Engagement Plan.
Specifically, the project evaluation’s purpose is to determine the project’s effectiveness with regard to delivering on the project objectives. These were:
- Councils to have a shared understanding of a common practical approach to climate adaption planning;
- Climate adaptation activities to be embedded across local government portfolios by integration into strategies, plans and initiatives at local and regional levels;
- Enhanced capacity of councils to overcome barriers to adaptation implementation;
- Momentum across local government to implement climate risk and adaptation; and
- An agreed and clear regional approach to climate adaptation.
These objectives, while partially aspirational, provide a useful framing for what project success would look like. The evaluation framework has been developed to measure to what extent the project has achieved the above objectives.
From the beginning, the evaluation component has been an essential part of the design of this project. It was geared towards delivering accountability of the project team and participating councils towards the Victorian Adaptation and Sustainability Partnership (VASP). The evaluation was designed to contribute to a broader evidence base about embedding climate change impact considerations in local government planning. Evaluation activities were selected to not only to deliver an improved understanding of project effectiveness but also to increase trust and legitimacy between the main stakeholders involved in the project.
The project evaluation used a participatory, perception-based approach, where the Project Regional Team (PRT) was actively engaged in the evaluation process. It combined an individual, survey-based with a group-based approach, using quantitative and qualitative methods. A perception based approach was preferred as it was going to be difficult to measure progress with regard to broadly defined project objectives and attribute such progress to project activities alone. In addition, training activities delivered as part of the project were evaluated, and the training evaluation has fed into the findings presented in this report.