Step 5: Implement & Monitor Action

Begin to implement and monitor adaptation actions now and over time.

Step 5 Content

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Step 5 Checklist

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Step 5 tribal Examples

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Activity 1: TaKe Action

Start by implementing actions that have the fewest barriers, the highest chance of success, and the greatest resilience value.

“There is a lot of controversy around climate change, but the bottom line is that it’s a reality.”

Guiding Questions

Helpful questions to consider during this activity.

Considerations for integrating and protecting
Traditional Knowledges during this activity.

There are many ways to move forward implementing actions. One challenge is that rarely is it possible to move forward with all of the priority actions (Step 4: Activity 4) at the same time. Consider starting with low or no-cost actions like outreach and education; or focusing on a key window of opportunity (e.g., a grant-funded activity, an update to a management plan) as this can be a good opportunity to begin implementing priority actions. 

The climate change planning team has already helped identify actions relevant to their Tribal departments. The key is to start with a few small elements and move forward from planning to action. This will demonstrate tangible progress to the community, Tribal leadership, and potential funders that can help create the momentum for tackling the harder, or bigger, actions and changes identified in the plan. The plan itself can be used to support grant applications and justify funding for implementing individual adaptation actions.

The planning team can consider implementing a pilot project (or a set of pilot projects) to test the effectiveness of priority actions, and to decide how best to launch each adaptation action at scale. Pilot projects have the benefit of not being seen as permanent and frequently face lower political and financial barriers. If successful, a pilot project (limited in extent or geographic scope) can rapidly be scaled or rolled out to other areas. Pilot projects demonstrate measurable success and can:

  • Help identify obstacles, logistical challenges, and possible unintended consequences in a semi-controlled, small-scale context;
  • Help determine if goals and timelines are appropriate and that the appropriate tracking, monitoring, and reporting takes place;
  • Provide a forum for gathering feedback from Tribal members, staff, and leadership that can be used to inform the full-scale roll out of the action; and
  • Secure Tribal and staff buy-in.

A pilot project is not always necessary. A full-scale launch may be appropriate where similar adaptation actions have been previously executed under similar conditions (for example, by other Tribes, or in areas with similar geography and topography) with successful results. Full-scale implementation is also appropriate for smaller actions, or if an immediate response to an urgent vulnerability is necessary.

Tribal Examples

Find out more about how multiple Tribes have approached implementing a pilot project to begin addressing some concerns and vulnerabilities identified throughout the planning process.


Evaluate the success of adaptation actions and modify actions over time to improve their effectiveness.

“The scientific evidence of climate change is increasingly abundant and convincing … Given the geographic location and characteristics of the Swinomish Indian Reservation, climate change impacts on the Reservation community are perceived to potentially be both significant and long-term.”

Guiding Questions

Helpful questions to consider during this activity.

Considerations for integrating and protecting
Traditional Knowledges during this activity.

Developing a process to measure the success and effectiveness of each action is frequently overlooked, yet important for successful adaptation. Monitoring each action independently will allow the Tribe to have the data it needs to identify when the actions are working and when they need to be modified or improved to increase their effectiveness. Indicators of success are measurable characteristics of implementing adaptation actions that can be monitored over time. Ultimately, a comprehensive list of indicators compiled from all of the actions will allow the Tribe to track progress across sectors, programs, and the community, and monitor that progress over time.

To increase effectiveness of adaptation actions, consider developing one or more indicators that can be monitored to determine if the actions are successful in having the desired effect. These indicators can be focused on specific individual components of the process (e.g., number of people trained and workshops held) or specific outcomes (e.g., increased awareness). Process indicators can be used to track progress in implementing action. Outcome indicators can be used to track progress in reducing environmental risk and enhancing resilience. When developing both types of indicators, consider the principles for developing good indicators of adaptation success (Table 11).

Table 11. Principles for Developing Indicators of Adaptation Success.

This table describes three principles and their rationales to consider when developing indicators of success for adaptation actions.

There are multiple criteria for selecting indicators. Using measurable indicators that can be objectively evaluated over time will help assess progress in implementing the adaptation actions. Indicators can help simplify reporting on progress to Tribal members, leadership, and other stakeholders. Consistent reporting helps to generate additional interest, promote accountability, improve project management, and attract political and financial support for the resilience building initiative. The tracking timeline will vary depending on the type of adaptation actions selected. However, this stage is valuable whenever it occurs because it offers the opportunity for reflection, revision, and improvement.

Tribal Examples

Find out more about the process of how the Swinomish Indian Tribal Community developed a set of Indigenous Health Indicators and how this may be applied to other adaptation planning efforts focused on community health.[1]


Resources to help develop indicators of success for adaptation actions.

Developing, selecting, and monitoring indicators should not distract from the important work of implementing actions. However, if indicators are designed to fit within existing management structures and reporting requirements, they will not add too much work for the planning team or the Tribal departments who are responsible for implementing the actions. The value indicators provide in measuring success, communicating progress, and identifying when adaptation actions are not working or need to be updated or modified is critical to ensuring the long-term success of the Tribe’s adaptation efforts.

Once the Tribe has selected a set of indicators, develop an approach for tracking these indicators and progress in implementing the adaptation actions over time. Early planning helps ensure that systems are in place to collect information throughout the implementation of the adaptation plan. Determining how well the actions are working is vital for ensuring that the Tribe meets the goals and objectives for the adaptation planning process. 

Developing an efficient, consistent, and reliable approach for collecting and managing the indicators can include:

  • Identifying which members of the planning team will help with each of the tracking and reporting tasks;
  • Creating a schedule for collecting the information;
  • Deciding on the methods used to collect and document this information (if possible, integrate information collection into an existing process or standard operating procedure); and
  • Establishing how the information will be reported.

Tribal Examples

Read about some examples of ways Tribes have monitored implementation of actions and metrics to track implementation progress.


Resources with examples and best practices of monitoring and evaluating adaptation efforts.

Finally, the climate change planning committee does not have to disband upon the completion of the adaptation plan. This group can be instrumental in implementing actions, monitoring the success of those actions, and continuing to guide the Tribe’s adaptation efforts.

Community Engagement Checkpoint

Sustain community engagement and support for implementing adaptation actions over time.

Documentation Checkpoint

Consider documenting the suite of indicators the Tribe selects as well as the process for collecting, consolidating, and reporting information on those selected indicators.


Document the Tribe’s adaptation work in a manner that will facilitate long-term success of building climate resilience.

“The Karuk Tribe values the interests and wellbeing of the Karuk People. The values associated with this wellbeing are primarily health, justice, economic security, education, housing, self-governance, as well as the management and utilization of cultural/natural resources within and adjacent to the Karuk Aboriginal Territory now and forever.”

Guiding Questions

Helpful questions to consider during this activity.

Considerations for integrating and protecting
Traditional Knowledges during this activity.

Compiling a cohesive set of materials from the adaptation planning process and filling in any gaps by creating summary reports will solidify the foundation for future work. If the work has been funded by an outside agency or grant, there are generally requirements to submit the final products as part of the end of the grant period. Gather materials from each step of the process, and organize those materials in a manner that will be useful for the Tribe. Gathering materials is easiest when documenting progress along the way.

Writing a stand-alone adaptation plan may be required by the funders, but is not the only way to document the results of the adaptation planning process and make those results accessible and useful. Look for ways to develop outputs that serve a variety of needs. These synergies can be found in mainstreaming actions and developing approaches to monitoring and evaluation that help measure the success of the plan over time. The process used for incorporation of Traditional Knowledges (TKs) can further support the appropriate use of that information in other efforts such as applying for future grants, improving management of natural resources, and identifying cultural resources.


Template for writing an adaptation plan.

The compiled set of resources and any plan or summary should be reviewed by the climate change planning team. It also may be valuable (or required) to present the plan to Tribal leadership for formal adoption. Formal adoption or approval of the plan can help institutionalize the results of the adaptation planning process, maintain momentum for climate change adaptation, and enhance support for implementation of initiatives and actions, even as Tribal leadership changes over time.


Tribes’ history of fostering long-term social and ecological resilience creates an excellent foundation for continuing to build resilience. Establish a process the Tribe can use over time as changes occur to: update the plans; refine or expand the actions; and continue to adapt.

“The Blackfeet (Amskapi Piikani) have long believed that we are the caretakers of the land and resources where we have resided for many thousands of years. To this day, we use this land for spiritual and cultural purposes. The Blackfeet Nation strives hard to retain its culture in this modern era where impacts to our world are changing, and that we recognize we must adapt and [our adaptation plan] will help guide us in that endeavor.”

Guiding Questions

Helpful questions to consider during this activity.

Considerations for integrating and protecting
Traditional Knowledges during this activity.

As stewards of the land, Tribes have been fostering long-term social and ecological resilience since time immemorial. This creates an excellent foundation for continuing building resilience. Putting in place a process or roadmap that the Tribe can continue to use over time as changes occur—to update the plans, refine or expand the actions, and continue to adapt—is critical to long-term success.

Successful adaptation planning requires an understanding that social and environmental conditions will continue to change for decades and generations. Because of this, adaptation actions will also need to be updated over time. The climate change planning team or departmental managers (if the actions are mainstreamed) can plan to revisit and modify the adaptation plan from time to time as new information about expected climate changes and impacts become available and as the Tribe’s priorities change.[2]

If possible, set a goal to return either to this full adaptation planning process (Figure 11) (starting at Step 2) in a certain number of years, or to revisit the plans and programs in which the adaptation actions are embedded as those plans are updated. Setting a public goal or requirement to update the plan can enhance accountability and help ensure the investment of time and energy needed to make the updates.

Figure 11. Tribal Climate Adaptation Guidebook Framework.

The adaptation planning process outlined in the Tribal Climate Adaptation Guidebook is circular (Steps 2–5) and may be repeated over time as information and environmental and social systems change.

As the plans are updated, explore opportunities to increase the effectiveness of adaptation actions; discontinue ineffective actions; and incorporate new information, data, resources and/or changes to non-climate factors as appropriate. Consider reconvening the planning team, community members, or Tribal leadership who had been involved in the planning process and incorporate feedback into any updates or adjustments.

When updating or revising the plan consider the following:

  • The Monitoring Plan: Have actions been successful? Where have they fallen short and what could be done to improve the effectiveness of those actions?
  • The Tribal Community: Are there new challenges facing the community that need to be addressed requiring new focus areas or priorities? Has the social or political climate altered and affected Tribal priorities?
  • The State of the Science: Do new climate projections match those in the Tribe’s plan or have scientists discovered something new that needs to be incorporated into the planning efforts? 
  • The Vulnerability Assessment: Is there any new information that would inform or change the vulnerability assessment results? Do the criteria for prioritizing key concerns need to be altered based on changes in Tribal priorities?
  • New Windows of Opportunity: Are there new opportunities for funding or actions that the Tribe can take advantage of to expand the reach and effectiveness of the adaptation actions in the plan?

Tribal Examples

Read about how the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe dealt with updated sea level rise projections.

Enhancing resilience to changing climate conditions is a process and not the result of a single project. The work that the Tribe does in this adaptation planning process outlined in this Tribal Climate Adaptation Guidebook lays the foundation for all future adaptation planning efforts. This work includes: identifying key climate-related vulnerabilities; convening the right people to develop effective adaptation actions to reduce those vulnerabilities in a culturally grounded and appropriate manner; meaningfully engaging the community; incorporating Traditional Knowledges where appropriate; developing and institutionalizing indicators to measure success; and committing to revisit and update data, products, materials, and plans over time. A solid adaptation planning foundation can support the Tribe long after the funding for any single adaptation effort runs out. Flexibility and a willingness to update the adaptation actions over time will ensure that the Tribe and the critical natural and cultural resources that are integral to the economic, cultural, and spiritual fabric of the community continue to thrive for the next seven generations.