Tracking global climate change adaptation among governments


The Paris Agreement and Katowice Climate Package articulate a clear mandate for all parties to undertake and document adaptation progress. Yet persistent challenges have prevented substantive developments in tracking adaptation and the assessment of adaptation actions and their outcomes. Here, we provide an overview of the challenges of adaptation tracking and propose a comprehensive conceptual framework for assessing adaptation progress by governments that is scalable over time and across contexts. The framework addresses the core components of adaptation assessment (vulnerability, goals and targets, adaptation efforts, and adaptation results) and characterizes subcomponents focused on adaptation effort (leadership, organizations and policy). In particular, we highlight how critical insights can be uncovered by systematically tracking policy efforts over time, and discusses novel approaches to data collection.

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Fig. 3: Adaptation to the impacts on public health via extreme heat in the Canadian province of British Columbia.


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The collaboration has been funded by SSHRC, CIHR and Yale-NUS. R.B.’s contribution was partly funded through NWO-VENI (451-17-006-4140). Special thanks to S. Coggins for contributions to the case-study. The funders had no role in the conceptualization, design, data collection, analysis, decision to publish or preparation of the manuscript.

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The work presented in this paper was guided by a series of collaborative discussions and workshops within the Adaptation Tracking Collaborative (ATC). Launched as a collaboration of the Tracking Adaptation to Climate Change Consortium (TRAC3, McGill University, University of Leeds and Wageningen University), the Global Adaptation Initiative at the University of Notre-Dame (ND-GAIN), the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) WORLD Policy Analysis Center, the Institute of Environment at the University of Minnesota and in collaboration with Yale-NUS College (Singapore). The ATC hosted three workshops with the goal of: assessing adaptation tracking needs, identifying a common goal, articulating key theoretical and methodological challenges, and collectively outlining a preliminary conceptual framework for global and systematic adaptation tracking. This paper is the result of those discussions. L.B.F., R.B., J.D.F. and A.L. conceived of the study. Conceptual development of the study goals, objectives and an outline of the framework were contributed collectively by all authors over a series of three workshop meetings. These meetings provided the important intellectual content and interpretation of existing literature to develop a first draft. L.B.F. led manuscript writing, with substantial portions of text written by R.B., A.L. and J.D.F.; A.L., R.B., L.B.F., A.T. and F.M.W. contributed to case-study data collection and/or analysis. All authors critically revised the manuscript for important intellectual content over numerous drafts and teleconferences.

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Correspondence to Lea Berrang-Ford.

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Journal peer review information: Nature Climate Change thanks Nathan Engle, Tim Smith and other anonymous reviewer(s) for their contribution to the peer review of this work.

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Berrang-Ford, L., Biesbroek, R., Ford, J.D. et al. Tracking global climate change adaptation among governments. Nat. Clim. Chang. 9, 440–449 (2019).

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