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A global assessment of adaptation investment from the perspectives of equity and efficiency

Chen, Chen, Hellmann, Jessica, Berrang-Ford, Lea, Noble, Ian, Regan, Patrick
Mitigation and adaptation strategies for global change 2018 v.23 no.1 pp. 101-122
climate change, decision making, developing countries, geographical distribution, risk assessment
Equity and efficiency should be considered when allocating resources for climate change adaptation. More than a decade after the Least Developed Countries Fund approved adaptation funds for 18 countries in 2003, it is possible to take the stock of investment data and to test empirically whether equity and efficiency have been factored into adaptation investment decision-making. To evaluate equity, one must determine if resources were distributed to areas of greatest need. Vulnerability assessments provide information on the global distribution of the need for adaptation. To evaluate efficiency, one must compare cost and benefit of an investment. Although it is difficult to assess ex-ante the cost and benefit of investment strategies, it is possible to measure efficient use of expenditures with readiness assessment, as a metric of capacity to deploy adaptation resources. We used vulnerability and readiness measures of the Notre Dame Global Adaptation Initiative (ND-GAIN) Country Index as proxies of equity and efficiency. This article quantitatively interrogates—through the lens of public fund allocation—the roles of vulnerability and readiness in shaping adaptation investment decisions. Our findings suggest that countries facing increasing impacts from climate change have received more adaptation investments from international sources than countries with less vulnerability. Further, international investments also preferentially flow to countries that are more ready to deploy adaptation resources. Since the most vulnerable countries are likely to be less ready for investment, our findings support the efforts to improve the investment potential of the most vulnerable countries by investing first to enhance their readiness, in order to unlock adaptation solutions.