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National-level progress on adaptation


It is increasingly evident that adaptation will figure prominently in the post-2015 United Nations climate change agreement1,2. As adaptation obligations under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change evolve, more rigorous approaches to measuring adaptation progress among parties will be critical. In this Letter we elaborate on an emerging area of research referred to as ‘adaptation tracking’, which has potential to inform development of a global adaptation monitoring framework3. We evaluate this potential by presenting evidence on policy change for 41 high-income countries between 2010 and 2014. We examine whether countries that were in early stages of adaptation planning in 2010 are making progress to close adaptation gaps, and how the landscape of adaptation in these countries has evolved. In total we find an 87% increase in reported adaptation policies and measures, and evidence that implementation of concrete adaptation initiatives is growing. Reflecting on the strengths and challenges of this early methodology, we further discuss how adaptation tracking practices could guide development of a robust framework for monitoring global adaptation progress and inform future research on policy change across countries.

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Figure 1: Number of initiatives reported by type.
Figure 2: Number of initiatives reported by sector.


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Funding was provided by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.

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Authors and Affiliations



A.L. contributed to conceptual development, conducted data collection and data analysis, and contributed to manuscript composition; J.F. contributed to conceptual development, data analysis, and manuscript composition; R.B. contributed to data analysis and manuscript composition; L.B.-F. contributed to conceptual development, data analysis, and manuscript composition; S.J.H. contributed to conceptual development, data analysis, and manuscript composition.

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Correspondence to Alexandra Lesnikowski.

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The authors declare no competing financial interests.

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Lesnikowski, A., Ford, J., Biesbroek, R. et al. National-level progress on adaptation. Nature Clim Change 6, 261–264 (2016).

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