Adaptation Metrics. Current Landscape and Evolving Practices

Timo Leiter, Anne Olhoff, Rima Al Aza, Vicki Barmby, Dennis Bours, Viviane Wei Chen Clemen, Thomas William Dale, Craig Davies, Heather Jacobs

Research output: Working paperResearch

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Abstract

Effective adaptation assessment frameworks and metrics are essential for tracking and assessing climate change adaptation actions and progress. If used properly, adaptation metrics can enhance our understanding of what works and what does not work, why, and under which circumstances. Adaptation metrics are central to the learning process, as well as in guiding future adaptation efforts. Although frameworks and metrics to track adaptation are still at the early stages of development and application, there is already sufficient knowledge to help guide future efforts. This paper highlights the following emerging lessons: Start with the purpose, not the metrics. There is a tendency for the international debate to address adaptation metrics generically. However, the choice of metrics depends on the purpose and requires careful consideration of what one intends to measure or achieve, the types of decisions the metric will be used for (e.g., allocation of funding versus learning), its meaningfulness to its audience, and the scale at which it will be communicated. Abandon the search for a single adaptation metric or index and focus instead on enhancing the comparability, consistency and continuity of sets of indicators that meaningfully capture adaptation. Adaptation processes are similar to and often inseparable from development and require similar approaches to selecting and using metrics.There is great potential for creating sets of adaptation metrics that allow a certain degree of comparability and standardization, thus complementing context-specific metrics. Induce collaboration between key actors in various sectors and thematic areas to create more systematic and transparent approaches to generating and selecting effective adaptation metrics. Available adaptation assessment frameworks are not designed with inter-comparison or synthesis in mind, limiting our ability to track and assess adaptation progress across contexts and scales, including our understanding of the factors that explain differences in performance across programs, sectors, regions, and countries. This paper highlights current practices in a few
important areas: agriculture, cities, and finance and investment. These and similar collaborative efforts to establish more systematic and comparable adaptation frameworks and metrics could be advanced and incentivized further. Explore new technologies and options to utilize existing frameworks, indicators and data sources, and develop them further. Key barriers to advancing the use of adaptation metrics include a lack of data and a lack of resources. New technologies such as data gathering through earth observation and mobile phones provide cost-effective alternatives. Mobile phones and social media also allow direct interaction with the target audience. Drawing more broadly on existing frameworks and data sources, including the indicators of the Sustainable Development Goals and their relevance for tracking adaptation, should be explored further as a means to overcome the challenges of data availability and collection. Finally, this paper illustrates the importance of building flexibility and learning into adaptation assessment frameworks and of including quantitative as well as qualitative indicators to ensure comprehensive understanding of adaptation and to allow contributions to be assessed.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages51
Publication statusPublished - 2019

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