A Global Assessment of Policy Tools to Support Climate Adaptation

Nicola Ulibarri, Idowu Ajibade, Eranga K. Galappaththi, Elphin Tom Joe, Alexandra Lesnikowski, Katharine J. Mach, Justice Issah Musah-Surugu, Gabriela Nagle Alverio, Alcade C. Segnon, A.R. Siders, Garry Sotnik, Donovan Campbell, Vasiliki I. Chalastani, Kripa Jagannathan, Vhalinavho Khavhagali, Diana Reckien, Yuanyuan Shang, Chandni Singh, Zinta Zommers, The Global Adaptation Mapping Initiative Team | 2021

Abstract

Governments, businesses, and civil society organizations have diverse policy tools to incentivize adaptation. Policy tools can shape the type and extent of adaptation, and therefore, function either as barriers or enablers for reducing risk and vulnerability. Using data from a systematic review of academic literature on global adaptation responses to climate change (n = 1549 peer-reviewed articles), we categorize the types of policy tools used to shape climate adaptation. We apply qualitative and quantitative analyses to assess the contexts where particular tools are used, along with equity implications for groups targeted by the tools, and the tools’ relationships with transformational adaptation indicators such as the depth, scope, and speed of adaptation. We find diverse types of tools documented across sectors and geographic regions. We also identify a mismatch between the tools that consider equity and those that yield more transformational adaptations. Direct regulations, plans, and capacity building are associated with higher depth and scope of adaptation (thus transformational adaptation), while economic instruments, information provisioning, and networks are not; the latter tools, however, are more likely to target marginalized groups in their design and implementation. We identify multiple research gaps, including a need to assess instrument mixes rather than single tools and to assess adaptations that result from policy implementation.