The challenges posed by climate change have become increasingly apparent around the world. Torrential rains destroy crops and villages; droughts and expanding deserts shatter agricultural livelihoods. To cope with these changes, new local, regional, national and international climate change adaptation initiatives are emerging and expanding at an exponential rate. It is imperative that we quickly learn from all of these important activities in order to capitalize on successful experiences for replication and scaling up.

What are the key features of these rapidly evolving initiatives? How has “success” been defined? What are the specific criteria of success that can be replicated, adapted and scaled up across a variety of locations? What skills and competencies are needed to ensure that limited human and financial resources are used to the greatest advantage?

To answer these and other practical questions about what makes successful climate change adaptation activities, the UNDP Innovation Facility is supporting an initiative working closely with the University of Warwick, the UNDP Country Office in Cabo Verde and the Project Coordinator of the CCAF¹ in the Regional Service Center in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia to address these issues.

In particular, the project addresses the context-specific nature of climate change adaptation. Climate change is understood as a global phenomena, but in reality, it ultimately is affected by, and affects, people, communities and countries, across a vast array of cultural contexts. Climate change is global but it occurs in specific locations that have unique forms of human settlement, diverse political systems and varying beliefs and customs. It is these specifics of the context that surround climate change adaptation efforts that will affect the success of any given climate change adaption intervention, and the trends emerging across these different contexts that can provide true lessons learned. Given that climate change adaptation is about behavioral change, the details of these socio-cultural contexts have to be assessed and understood. How can this be done?

This initiative focusses on the use of innovative data integration and visualization technology to both capture and communicate insights on what is at the core of successful climate change adaptation interventions. It will use composite methods, new visual analytic tools and complex systems analytic skills to gain deeper insights into the multitude of data emerging from these adaptation initiatives, (which are now scattered and inaccessible). These insights will be integrated and compiled to contribute to evidence based, efficient and more effective climate change adaptation decisions and actions.

The focus of the first stage of this initiative is to apply a taxonomy-based, composite methodology to sort through and make sense of the complex contextual data surrounding climate adaptation activities that are currently underway in Cabo Verde. This data, once organized and captured, will be presented through a visualization platform, where analysts can explore the data to come up with evidence-based assessments about adaptation initiatives for use by project designers, decision-makers, adaptation practitioners and other stakeholders to enhance the impact of adaptation action.


¹ The Canada-UNDP Climate Change Adaptation Facility (CCAF) is a global umbrella programme encompassing six national adaptation projects working to enhance resilient livelihoods in Cabo Verde, Cambodia, Haiti, Niger, Mali, and Sudan.  It aims to find strategies for documenting results, sharing experiences, and replicating good practice across these participating countries.