Monitoring and Evaluation Practices in Nature4Cities field test activities
One of the main objectives of Nature4Cities Project was to deliver an online platform (aka one-stop-shop) allowing to assess various Nature Based Solutions (NBS).
The reliability of these assessments, together with the outputs acquired from the knowledge and support tools, that assist both expert and non-expert users, was a key factor that needed to be tested/validated smoothly.
Therefore, by considering different NBS examples in four partner municipalities (Çankaya, City of Milano Metropolitan, Szeged, and Alcala de Henares), we conducted some platform testings. The standardised and stepwise framework included Monitoring & Evaluation (M&E).
> Monitoring is the routine checking the information on progress. It helps to confirm that progress is occurring in the defined direction.
> Evaluation is used to assess if a project or activity is meeting its intentions, whether the design, implementation and results were adequate, and if the right mix of strategies and resources were used to get there.
In a nutshell, monitoring provides information on where the project or activity or platform is at a particular point in time, and evaluation gives information on why the desired outcomes are on track or not being achieved. The M&E framework in this context formed a cycle between performance management and reflection that enabled performance improvement. In respect of managing the field testing framework, the above mentioned cycle was divided into 4 different phases:
Phase 1: Planning for the Field Tests
Planning process was the initial phase of M&E of the field tests.
In this phase, the requirements for the field-testing were identified in terms of what needed to be monitored and evaluated. Planning consisted of a series of identification steps that provide specifics on:
o What roles each partner had
o What monitoring data needed to be collected
o What was the baseline comparative information
o What were the expected targets for the field tests to be successful
Phase 2: Monitoring of the Field Tests
The goals of this phase were:
o to provide for the data needed to carry out the field tests and to monitor the progress on data collection
o to understand the progress of the field tests themselves and the required support actions for interventions
o for the partners cities to set baseline comparative datasets and the targets for the field tests
Phase 3: Conducting the Field Test Evaluations
The third phase of the M&E framework was to carry out the evaluation of the field-testing of the Nature4Cities platform. The evaluation process was split into two parts:
- the overall quality assurance of the field-testing
- and the framework to analyse field-testing experiences, that forms the basis for the communication and feedback process.
Feedback process was beneficial to understand;
o The efficacy or usefulness of both inputs and outputs
o The number of users
o The purpose of using a tool and its data output
o The overall success of each tool, indicated by why, when, and how it is used
o The desired outcomes or recommendations for development
Phase 4: Communication of Evaluation Feedback
The final phase of M&E Framework consisted of the final evaluation and feedback from the user experiences in the partner cities, for each Nature4Cities platform tool.
More extensive information about all these phases are available in Deliverable 7.1. It provides such a framework for the field-testing of the Nature4Cities Platform and the related NBS in the four cities. It improves the quality assurance of the field testing and makes the results more comparable to ensure the validation process of Nature4Cities platform.