The most climate-prepared countries in the world are losing ground, according to the latest update of the University of Notre Dame’s Global Adaptation Initiative (ND-GAIN) Country Index. Updated annually, ND-GAIN’s Country Index quantifies the climate vulnerability and readiness of more than 180 countries by aggregating 45 core indicators over 20 years.
This year’s ND-GAIN leaderboard appears similar to previous years, with Norway, Finland, Switzerland, Sweden, Denmark, Singapore, Austria, Germany, Iceland and New Zealand situated as the highest-ranked countries. A closer look reveals that although these countries retained their top standing, there is a general decline of ND-GAIN scores among the leaderboard.
The decline of ND-GAIN leader scores is driven by the index’s measurement of climate readiness, which consists of economic, governance and social components. At the same time, many of the highest-ranked countries saw an increase in vulnerability to the effects of climate change. ND-GAIN measures vulnerability across six components — including food, water, health, human habitat, infrastructure and ecosystem services — for sensitivity, exposure and adaptive capacity to climate risks.
According to Danielle Wood, the project director of ND-GAIN, there are similarities among leaderboard countries. “Many do face moderate exposure to climate change, but they have good capacities to deal with the potential climate risks,” Wood said. “In general, they are also better prepared for natural disasters and practice good governance, which is essential to adaptation.”
At the same time, Wood noted that the drop of ND-GAIN scores among the highest-ranked countries should serve as a critical reminder. “The decline of the top-ranked countries underscores that no country is immune to potentially extreme impacts of climate change,” she said.
Free and open source, the ND-GAIN Country Index helps decision-makers in governments, nongovernmental organizations, corporations and academia prioritize investments for a more efficient response to the global challenges ahead, such as overcrowding, food insecurity, inadequate infrastructure and civil conflicts. To learn about ND-GAIN or the Country Index, visit gain.nd.edu.
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