Table 1. Typology of approaches for adaptation tracking

Tracking approaches Characteristics Data sources Strengths Limitations
Outcome-based Outcome evaluation: reduced negative climate change impacts

• Track climate-related losses, mortality, and morbidity, over time and in relation to adaptation

• Examine impacts of climatic hazard event before and after adaptation

• Natural hazard loss databases (e.g., emergency events database)

• Quantification of adaptation progress and effectiveness

• Metrics can be monitored over time

• Availability of standardized global datasets of hazards losses and mortality across regions

• Legitimacy within policy evaluation community

• Applicable only where outcomes are directly observable

• Difficulty of inferring causality between outcome and adaptation

• Potential for maladaptation not captured

• Limited applicability to “soft” and mainstreamed adaptations

• Does not measure outcomes from adapting to wider (nonevent-oriented) climate change


Preparedness- , process- ,and policy-based Adaptation readiness: presence of key governance factors essential for effective and successful adaptation •With regard to adaptation, evidence of: political leadership; institutional organization; stakeholder involvement; climate change information; appropriate use of decision-making techniques; and consideration of barriers to adaptation, funding, technology development, and adaptation research

• Speeches at Conference of the Parties meetings

• Attendance at Conference of the Parties meetings

• Leadership identified in UNFCCC National Communications or National Adaptation Programmes of Action

• UNFCCCC National Communications

• National assessments

• Not dependent on outcomes being visible

• Captures readiness for future action and ability to effectively implement adaptations

• Need to validate if readiness translates to action

• Limited availability of readiness metrics


Process-based approaches: process through which adaptations are developed and implemented in pursuance of a desired outcome or objective

• Comparison of adaptation characteristics and steps of development to theoretically and empirically derived characteristics of adaptation success and best practice • National Adaptation Programmes of Action

• Adaptation inventories

• Not dependent on outcomes being visible

• Capture the key processes that are believed to underpin effective and successful adaptation

• Limited systematically collected data on process of adaptation development and implementation

• Limited transferability across nations

• Time intensive

• Unproven link to adaptation success


Analyzing policies and programmatic approaches: monitoring and comparison of reported adaptation actions and their characteristics • Analysis of characteristics of reported adaptations and comparison across regions, by vulnerability categories, over time, and with respect to adaptation “obligations”

• UNFCCC National Communications

• National Adaptation Programmes of Action

• Adaptation inventories

• National adaptation assessments

• Not dependent on outcomes being visible

• Systematic and quantitative analysis of progress

• Comparability across nations

• Suited for global application

• Amenable for rapid assessment

• Success not directly measured

• Results subject to reporting bias


Examining Measures of changing vulnerability: measurement of change in vulnerability in relation to adaptation

• Monitor aggregate vulnerability indices in relation to adaptation actions

• Focus on specific indicators which capture the generic determinants of vulnerability (e.g., access to education; poverty; health; and inequality)

• Examine specific components of sensitivity and adaptive capacity to climate change impacts

• Climate Change Vulnerability Index

• Environmental Sustainability Index

• Global Climate Risk Index

• GAIN Index

• Not dependent on outcomes being visible

• Readily available vulnerability indices globally

• Amenable for rapid assessment

• Inability to capture determinants of vulnerability

• Fundamental disagreement between indices on magnitude of vulnerability

• Challenge of linking change in indices to adaptation