This Working Paper proposes to measure progress in climate change adaptation at the global level, for example through the development of new indicators using new technologies. This approach—the Global Adaptation Progress Tracker (GAP-Track)—involves both scientific and political challenges: in particular, which indicators (need to be innovative to overcome constraints in existing databases), which method (choice of references and scenarios) and what kind of dissemination (identifying an international organisation outside the UNFCCC, but still connected to it). However, this approach should help stimulate international research on measuring progress in adaptation, in addition to the work and initiatives carried out on climate change mitigation.

Key Messages

  • Answering the question ‘are we on track to adaptation at the global scale?’ is critical to validate that the “well below +2°C” mitigation target is sustainable for humankind over the 21st century.
  • The usual approach to global adaptation tracking relies on the development of national-level indicators and frameworks to be developed by the Parties to the UNFCCC.
  • Such an approach however raises political and diplomatic barriers (e.g. reluctance to report on national progress), as well as more technical concerns (e.g., not climate risks-specific indicators).
  • A complementary, alternative approach consists of directly adopting a global-level perspective, based on the identification of metrics describing adaptation gaps/benefits directly at the global level. To this end, starting from the 8 key risks (i.e. of global importance) identified by the IPCC could help. They refer to key risks to people, land-based food security, ocean-based food security, water security, medium-to-large scale urban systems, functional networks, terrestrial biodiversity, and ocean biodiversity.
  • This Working Paper describes the theoretical skeleton of a Global Adaptation Progress Tracker (GAP-Track) to inform UNFCCC climate negotiations with a scientifically robust, sound and relatively simple assessment of adaptation progress at the global level. Main steps and challenges ahead are described.
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