ND-GAIN funded by Kresge Foundation to develop U.S. Urban Adaptation Assessment

Author: Notre Dame News

Smog in L.A.

The University of Notre Dame Global Adaptation Index (ND-GAIN) will lead an adaptation advisory committee to determine local adaptation indicators for the United States, using these indicators to create a five-city pilot urban adaptation assessment.

Funded by the Kresge Foundation, ND-GAIN will convene an advisory committee of leading U.S. adaptation influencers, including both researchers and practitioners working on resilience. This committee will create the first set of national measures for urban adaptation and will populate the measures for five initial cities, to be identified once the study is underway.

ND-GAIN will compile and analyze the city data, producing assessments focusing on local geographies’ vulnerability to droughts, fires, floods, superstorms and other natural disasters and, uniquely, how ready they are to successfully implement adaptation solutions. The 18-month project will inform adaptation policies and investments that prepare people and their environment for a changed future. The assessments will be used by government, business and nonprofit leaders, who can apply them to decisions that improve livelihoods and save lives now and in the future.

“The ND-GAIN urban adaptation index will help to develop consensus around standards for adaptation measurement for cities across the U.S.,” said John Nordgren, the Kresge Foundation’s senior program officer for environment. “This project will help elevate critical needs on climate actions and thereby inform decisions about infrastructure, land use, water resources management, transportation and other policy and funding issues such that communities are motivated to act and informed about what to do to make them stronger and more resilient to the impacts of climate change.”


“ND-GAIN understands that cities are on the front lines of climate change adaptation. The model and indicators derived from this project will identify the greatest opportunities to improve resiliency for city dwellers,” said Jessica Hellmann, research director of ND-GAIN and associate professor at the University of Notre Dame.

ND-GAIN will use this work to scale to additional cities in the U.S. and around the world.

“Our partnership with Kresge will build a city adaptation indicator set and methodology and will initiate urban adaptation assessment in the U.S.,” said Joyce Coffee, managing director of ND-GAIN. “This project responds to the significant demand from city leaders and corporations for city-level measurement to inform decision-making that unlocks adaptation solutions.”

GAIN was founded in 2010 as the world’s first private sector-led, nonprofit organization created to save lives and livelihoods in developing countries by promoting adaptation solutions. It moved to the University of Notre Dame Environmental Change Initiative in 2013. ND-GAIN produces the world’s leading index showing which countries are best prepared to deal with changes brought about by resource constraints and climate disruption.

The Kresge Foundation seeks to help communities build resilience in the face of climate change. As a foundation committed to creating opportunity for low-income people and communities, Kresge is particularly concerned about the disproportionate effect climate change has on people with limited economic resources.

Contact: Joyce Coffee, managing director, Notre Dame Global Adaptation Index, 312-894-9028, jcoffee@nd.edu