A Systematic Global Stocktake of Evidence on Human Adaptation to Climate Change

Lea Berrang-Ford, A. R. Siders, Alexandra Lesnikowski, Alexandra Paige Fischer, Max W. Callaghan, Neal R. Haddaway, Katharine J. Mach, Malcolm Araos, Mohammad Aminur Rahman Shah, Mia Wannewitz, Deepal Doshi, Timo Leiter, Custodio Matavel, Justice Issah Musah-Surugu, Gabrielle Wong-Parodi, Philip Antwi-Agyei, Idowu Ajibade, Neha Chauhan, Chandni Singh, … Thelma Zulfawu Abu et al. | 2021


Assessing global progress on human adaptation to climate change is an urgent priority. Although the literature on adaptation to climate change is rapidly expanding, little is known about the actual extent of implementation. We systematically screened >48,000 articles using machine learning methods and a global network of 126 researchers. Our synthesis of the resulting 1,682 articles presents a systematic and comprehensive global stocktake of implemented human adaptation to climate change. Documented adaptations were largely fragmented, local and incremental, with limited evidence of transformational adaptation and negligible evidence of risk reduction outcomes. We identify eight priorities for global adaptation research: assess the effectiveness of adaptation responses, enhance the understanding of limits to adaptation, enable individuals and civil society to adapt, include missing places, scholars and scholarship, understand private sector responses, improve methods for synthesizing different forms of evidence, assess the adaptation at different temperature thresholds, and improve the inclusion of timescale and the dynamics of responses.