Measuring the effectiveness and adequacy of adaptation is a challenging but important task for government policymakers, practitioners and development partners. Adaptation activities are wide-ranging, with objectives that vary from addressing existing development gaps to explicitly considering future climate risks. There is often a lack of data and indicators to capture changes over time in the context of climatic uncertainty. This issue paper defines the components of effective and adequate adaptation and recommends a way of reviewing progress. The methods and tools to assess the effectiveness and adequacy of adaptation need to support learning and improvement of the adaptation activities rather than just reporting, and to be flexible enough to capture local contexts as well as allow aggregate assessments at different scales over time.