Abstract

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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Acknowledgements

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

Author information

Affiliations

  1. Tracking Adaptation to Climate Change Consortium (TRAC3)

    • Alexandra Lesnikowski
    • , James Ford
    • , Robbert Biesbroek
    • , Lea Berrang-Ford
    •  & S. Jody Heymann
  2. McGill University, Department of Geography, 805 rue Sherbrooke O, Montreal, Quebec H3A 0B9, Canada

    • Alexandra Lesnikowski
    • , James Ford
    •  & Lea Berrang-Ford
  3. Wageningen University, Department of Social Science, Hollandseweg 1, 6706KN Wageningen, Netherlands

    • Robbert Biesbroek
  4. University of California Los Angeles, Fielding School of Public Health, 640 Charles E Young Drive South, Los Angeles, California 90024, USA

    • S. Jody Heymann

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Contributions

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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The authors declare no competing financial interests.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Alexandra Lesnikowski.

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DOI

https://doi.org/10.1038/nclimate2863

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