November 6, 2011
Dr. Juan José Daboub is Founding CEO of the Global Adaptation Institute™ and former Managing Director of the World Bank.
Last week the 7 billionth person entered the world, only 12 years after the world population exploded to reach 6 billion. This milestone is yet another signal of just how much—and how fast—our world is changing: by 2050, the UN predicts that 9.3 billion people will share a planet whose climate system has been seriously disrupted and whose ecosystems no longer provide the services we have depended on for centuries. We are only beginning to grasp what the convergence of these dramatic trends might mean for business as usual.
In response, “next practice” companies are going far beyond efforts to “reduce their footprints” and avoid blame for making matters worse. They are also conducting complex risk assessments to anticipate the full range of material risks their businesses will face in a changing world and developing “adaptation” strategies to boost their resilience. Moreover, they are also looking for the silver lining, asking how their companies could innovate in ways that solve tomorrow’s problems and meet the emerging needs of governments, businesses, and individuals struggling to adapt to an overcrowded, resource-constrained, and climate-disrupted world.
The Global Adaptation Index™ (GaIn™) is the first tool designed to help public and private sector decision makers navigate these changes. It provides valuable information to the private sector about where opportunities and risks in the new “business of adaptation” exist. GaIn measures a country’s exposure, sensitivity and ability to cope with climate related hazards and other global forces—its “vulnerability”—alongside the “readiness” of its private and public sectors to leverage resources effectively towards reducing this vulnerability.
It’s clear that government action alone won’t be enough to respond to emerging needs. Global funds committed by governments and multilateral institutions currently amount to a few billion, way below the hundreds of billions per year in investments that may be needed in coming decades. This is why the Global Adaptation Institute, the only international organization focused solely on adaptation, wants to help the private sector fill this gap.
Many companies may find the greatest business opportunities in countries with a high demand for adaptation products and services, but also a transparent, safe and fair investment and regulatory environment. Business investors can isolate such countries, which include Mongolia, South Africa and Panama, by highlighting the Blue Quadrant in the Readiness Matrix. Other investors may seek to operate in higher-risk but still vulnerable locations, those countries in the Red Quadrant.
Throughout the past decade, the “clean tech revolution” has met with both failures and successes depending upon demand and a country’s commitment to enabling investment. We hope to propel a sustained private sector revolution in adaptation by highlighting how demand for adaptation services is constant due to geographically grounded conditions of populations, cities and coastlines and encourage governments to “move the needle” on those actions that will ignite efficient and effective adaptation investments.
To help achieve this goal, the GaIn Country Rankings show which countries are most prepared to address climate change and other forces by measuring the degree to which readiness exceeds vulnerability. The greater that number, the more “ready” a country is, and the higher the adaptation rank. A low score will hopefully encourage a country to improve upon indicators of readiness and vulnerability.
At first glance the top ranks are dominated by the most developed countries, the bottom by the poorest of the poor. It seems that only size matters. These results illustrate poor countries’ repeated complaint — these approaches discriminate against them.
Not so fast. There is much more here than a one dimensional ranking:
- Adjusting for GDP, some smaller countries have become remarkably ready, yielding surprising and far more diversified rankings. For example, Kyrgyzstan and Uruguay pop to the top tier and justify closer examination. The biggest change in rankings is Rwanda, which leaps from 128th to 58th after adjustment for income. Rwanda has also been improving its rating steadily over the recent past. It has risen from 159th to 128th in GaIn by increasing its readiness and reducing its vulnerability.
- Whether a country is becoming more ready or falling behind over time is a telling sign. Some countries are trending upward while others are treading water or worse. For less risk averse investors, countries with steady improvement may attract their capital.
The Global Adaptation Institute has only just begun our work to bring about this transformation. Our credibility relies on well-recognized scientists and experts, a transparent methodology and reliable data from respected institutions. As we build bridges with business leaders and governments, encourage and validate adaptation projects around the world and fine-tune GaIn to better address its users’ needs, we want your help. Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Global Adaptation Institute™ is a nonpartisan, nonprofit 501(c)3 organization guided by a vision of building resilience to climate change and other global forces as a key component to sustainable development.
Please visit us at: www.globalai.org