By analyzing 25 years of data, the University of Notre Dame in Indiana developed a Global Adaptation Index (ND-GAIN) that ranks 192 nations annually on their readiness to face a warming world. The index takes into account risks increased by climate change, including food insecurity, overcrowding, civil conflicts and poor infrastructure.

ND-GAIN reveals the most vulnerable and therefore least prepared countries to deal with climate change, as well as those which are in the best conditions to face a warming world.

In Burkina Faso, extreme droughts are killing off livestock and devastating crops. In Micronesia, rising water levels have spurred residents to dismantle ancient ruins for the construction of seawalls. And in the Western Region of Kenya, the aftermath of severe 2011 flooding continues to threaten the livelihoods of thousands. Credit: The Verge

Eritrea, Chad, Central African Republic, Sudan, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo are the five nations least able to respond the severe effects of warmer temperatures, according to the index. And the most prepared countries are New Zealand, Norway, Denmark, Britain, and Germany.

The index developed by the University of Notre Dame calculates countries’ exposure to climate stress. Reliance on agriculture serves as a good example of that. ND-GAIN also takes into account sensitivity to the impact of climate shocks and overall adaptive capacity. It then scores a nation’s preparedness by looking at its willingness to take action in order to improve its social, economic and governance resources to reduce climate risk.

Adaptation is a keyword. Nations must learn how to live in a warming world but the most vulnerable happen to be also the poorest, which means that they need urgent help from rich countries.

Financial help is not enough

One of the highlights of the Paris climate talks in December was that world leaders admitted that it would not be enough to tackle climate change by only reducing greenhouse gas emissions. They agreed to donate $100 billion a year by 2020 and the Green Climate Fund vowed to devote 50 percent of all its funding to adaptation.

However, money alone will not save the most vulnerable countries from calamities caused by their unpreparedness to face climate change. Climate security also requires “technical capacity to develop bankable proposals”, said Barbara Buchner of the Climate Policy Initiative in an emailed response, partially quoted by the Los Angeles Times.

She added that tackling the knowledge and capacity gaps was essential to reduce climate risk, as well as providing access to all kinds of resources needed to achieve adaptation.

Koko Warner of the United Nations University’s Institute for Environment and Human Security said that world leaders need to find out how to increase “the absorptive capacity of countries that need the funding the most, and harmonize investment standards, transparency, and governance issues”.

The adjustments needed to efficiently provide help to countries that need it the most should happen quickly. Buchner warned that $100 billion would not be enough to truly cover the real costs on the ground and the climate bill could go higher if the Earth cannot keep below 2 degrees Celsius of global warming.

Source: Los Angeles Times