Perspectives: Adaptation Metrics

Climate adaptation initiatives are more important than ever, and globally more and more funds are invested in climate resilience. But how do we measure success?

March 21, 2018

Addressing adaptation and resilience is becoming increasingly important in the fight against climate change. Large amounts of resources, both public and private, are being directed towards the purposes of enhancing adaptive capacity, strengthening resilience and reducing vulnerability.

But how are we actually doing? Are we succeeding in making our societies and economies less vulnerable and more resilient to the impacts of climate change? And are we getting the most ‘adaptation’ or resilience out of our investments?

These questions have become increasingly urgent in recent years, reflecting the increasing amount of funds being invested. But answering them has so far been hindered by the lack of a universally accepted definition of what counts as adaptation in practice.

To address these important questions, UNEP DTU Partnership has dedicated a new edition of its perspectives series to the metrics of adaptation.

Click to download the publication: Adaptation metrics: Perspectives on measuring, aggregating and comparing adaptation results.

Unique perspectives on concepts and methodological assessments

The issue of how to establish meaningful metrics for climate change adaptation is gaining impetus on both the political and academic agendas. There is an increased recognition of the need to prioritize and direct limited adaptation funding to the most vulnerable countries and population groups in the most cost-effective way.
This new edition of the UDP ‘Perspectives’ brings together knowledge and unique perspectives from a range of global experts and practitioners.

The publication’s main interest is in how to measure and track progress in adaptation, both in terms of outcomes and processes. The question of interest is essentially the metrics, indicators and unit that could be used to measure, aggregate and compare adaptation results.

Beyond their individual perspectives, the articles and experts provide an interesting sample of how the term ‘metrics’ is defined and used.

Context is king: from local to global

The articles in this volume highlight that the purpose of measuring adaptation, and consequently WHAT we are measuring, is highly context dependent.

The question of what constitutes meaningful adaptation metrics will thus result in very different answers, depending on whether you ask a vulnerable farmer in Africa, an adaptation fund manager, a development agency manager or a UNFCCC negotiator.

The recently published Adaptation Gap Report reviewed a number of adaptation assessment frameworks designed for aggregation and concluded that most of these are in fact not well suited for aggregation nationally or globally.

This serves as a reminder that the frameworks and processes we develop for measuring, aggregating and comparing adaptation results have to meet the needs of all stakeholders – from local to global levels.

Transparency and insight

The hope is that this publication will bring valuable insights that can benefit everyone concerned with the issues of transparency and metrics for adaptation, from international experts and UNFCCC negotiators, over national ministries and technical experts, to stakeholders working with adaptation at community levels.
This new Perspectives edition builds on and enhances UNEP DTU Partnership’s expanding portfolio of transparency related activities, including the Initiative for Climate Action Transparency (ICAT), support to countries under the Capacity Building Initiative for Transparency managed by the Global Environment Facility, and the annual Adaptation Gap Reports.