By Chen Chen, Research Scientist, Notre Dame Global Adaptation Initiative (ND-GAIN)

Working with the Notre Dame Initiative for Global Development, the adelphi Consult,  and the Catholic University of Mozambique, ND-GAIN has been involved in a program evaluation funded by United Nations Development Programme in Mozambique, to study the effectiveness of a national disaster risk management program implemented at local level. USAID’s Coastal City Adaptation Program operated by Chemonics has provided network and logistic supports on ground for the work.

“But how can you be sure that climate change is caused by humans?”

I stared at my dad– the smartest man I knew, my rock, and my role model– in disbelief. He was testing me, I thought. He wanted to see just how much I knew about the topic. He wanted to be sure that I could defend my convictions. As I sifted through everything I knew about climate change looking for the best place to begin, my dad started again.

“Show me the facts. Show me the data, the evidence. I haven’t seen any.”

A burst of frustration and confusion shot through me; was he serious? He was. I realized then that anthropogenic (human-caused) climate change, something I began studying as early as high school, something I believe to be true and grounded in irrefutable scientific evidence, and something I think of as universally understood and accepted, is widely contested.

By Sierra Woodruff, Postdoctoral Researcher, ND-GAIN

A ton of carbon emitted in California, has the same affect on climate as a ton emitted in West Virginia or China. Emissions from all sources and all countries determine concentrations of green house gases in the atmosphere and subsequent climate change. Mitigation efforts to curb green house gas emissions likewise benefit everyone. Consequently, climate mitigation is inherently a public goods problem.

Countries and individuals have little incentive to reduce emissions since they alone will bare the cost but everyone will benefit. International agreements and collective action are intended to distribute costs, discourage free riding and, in doing so, secure greater benefits. As such collective action is critical for climate mitigation.

Climate change adaptation is inherently different since individuals accrue benefits from their actions. If a homeowner living on the coast decides to elevate their home, they will benefit. Consequently, much of adaptation will be very local and taken by private parties.

By Sierra Woodruff, Postdoctoral Researcher, ND-GAIN

Originally published on Public Administration Review


The impacts of climate change – more frequent flooding, extreme heat waves, longer droughts, shifting disease vectors – have drastic consequences for multiple governmental sectors and departments. Yet, climate change has predominately been framed as an environmental issue and early adaptation efforts were led by environmental departments. Recent research examining the quality of climate change adaptation plans at the national, regional, and local scales indicate that who is involved in preparing the plan has a critical influence on the level of public participation, coordination, and breadth of strategies.