Adaptation Is A Top Geopolitical Challenge

by | Dec 5, 2012

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The global climate is changing, and leaders need information to guide their decisions for society and businesses.

Natural events in 2012 impacted hundreds of millions of lives and elevated discussion, throughout the international community, on the pressing need to adapt to these challenges.

During the World Economic Forum’s (Forum) Global Agenda Summit in Dubai, U.A.E., last week, it was announced that climate change will be a headlining topic at its Annual Meeting in Davos, Switzerland, in January 2013.

This announcement follows calls for action by world leaders such as President of Mexico Felipe Calderón, former President of Spain José María Aznar and former Prime Minister of Australia Kevin Rudd who are heightening awareness about people’s vulnerability and exposure to major trends including climate change. During the Dubai Summit, Rudd listed adaptation as one of five top geopolitical challenges. These global leaders also recognize the need to measure what matters, as well as, have available tools to strengthen their case and make better decisions on building resilience.

Clearly, the level of adaptation awareness has been raised in the global agenda and what decision makers need now is access to metrics that help guide investments.

The Council on Climate Change, for which I serve as Global Chair, is focusing on adaptation – building resilience within communities to tackle climate change, urbanization, resource scarcity and other global challenges. Our first task is to assess what metrics can best help policy-makers and businesses invest to prepare for these changes. There are a number of adaptation indices that assess data and provide information about global resilience. A report from AEA (now Ricardo-AEA) for the Adaptation Sub-Committee (ASC) of the UK’s Committee on Climate Change explores three of the main indices in this field. In Review of international experience in adaptation indicators, the authors summarise:

1) GAIN Index: Created by the Global Adaptation Institute (GAIN), this open data browser provides national level scores (and access to the underlying data) of current vulnerability to climate change and other global challenges, as well as a country’s readiness to absorb investment for 192 countries. The GAIN Index guides investment in adaptation by helping businesses and the public sector better prioritize investments for a more efficient response to global challenges. (

2) Climate Vulnerability Monitor (CVM): It advances understanding of the impacts of climate change on human society and the actions needed to address these effects. Produced by DARA, it combines measures in four areas of impact (human health, weather disasters, habitat loss and economic stress) within 184 countries, and on two timescales – 2010 and 2030. (

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