The Notre Dame Global Adaptation Index (ND-GAIN) for the year 2014, showing the lowest-ranking nations. Graphic: ND-GAIN

By William G. Gilroy
5 November 2014

(Notre Dame News) – Norway is the best prepared country for climate change, and has been so for almost 20 years, according to data released Wednesday (Nov. 5) by the University of Notre Dame Global Adaptation Index (ND-GAIN).

ND-GAIN is the world’s leading annual index that ranks more than 175 countries based on their vulnerability to climate change and their readiness to adapt to the droughts, superstorms, and natural disasters that climate change can cause.

New Zealand, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Australia, the United Kingdom, United States, Germany, and Iceland round out the top 10 countries most prepared for climate change.

In contrast, Afghanistan and several nations from sub-Saharan Africa such as Liberia, Sudan and Burundi have some of the lowest scores in the index.

The highest ranked countries share certain characteristics. Many do face moderate exposure to climate change, but they have good capacities to deal with the potential climate risks, including high access to amenities such as electricity, sanitation and clean drinking water. In general, they are also less dependent on natural capital, are better prepared for natural disasters and practice good governance.

“In Norway and the other members of the ND-GAIN leaderboard, we see role models in countries positioned to adapt to climate change,” Jessica Hellmann, research director of the Notre Dame Global Adaptation Index, said. “We also see a need for improvement. Not even the most developed countries are risk-free and completely prepared to deal with climate change.”

The 2014 ND-GAIN Index was compiled using a refined methodology, which incorporated new data. ND-GAIN officials note that adaptation is an evolving concept, and our understanding of climate change, and the risks it presents, is constantly improving with greater research and better data and models.

“This 2014 index captures the latest in vulnerability and readiness data and research,” Hellmann said. “ND-GAIN strives to bring the latest and most informative information to users so they can navigate a global landscape that is dramatically changing.”

The 2014 improved methodology and data sources have changed country rankings, as has the inclusion of recently released data. These changes reflect more complete data and a methodology that keeps pace with the latest knowledge on climate change. For instance, Russia moved up 45 places, China up 42, Seychelles up 35, Iraq up 33, Saudi Arabia up 30, Botswana up 28, South Korea up 27, Nepal up 26 and Zimbabwe up 25. Meanwhile, Swaziland (-25), Guatemala (-26), Mauritius (-29), El Salvador (-30), Jordan (-32), Belize (-39) and Romania (-39) have all declined in rank from 2013’s release to 2014’s.

The ND-GAIN Index remains more than just an annual ranking of countries. It is also an instrument that keeps track of the progress of nations over the last 18 years. As such, it contains crucial information for policymakers, the private sector and nonprofits. The index aims to unlock global adaptation solutions that save lives and improve livelihoods while strengthening market positions in the private sector and policy decisions in the public sector. It informs strategic, operational and reputational decisions regarding supply chains, capital projects and community engagements. The index is freely available to anyone with an Internet connection.

“ND-GAIN continues to be an open, transparent and actionable index, which has been conceived with the aid of open-source, state-of-the-art data and analysis tools,” said Nitesh Chawla, index director of the Notre Dame Global Adaptation Index. “ND-GAIN also is preparing a scenario-analysis tool for users to conduct ‘what-if’ analyses and evaluate the impact of different possible action plans. This actionable nature of the index, and the tools we have, allows us to provide customized products to partners and other interested parties.”

The index was released on Wednesday (Nov. 5) at the 2014 Notre Dame Global Adaptation Index Annual Meeting hosted by the Wilson Center, a nonpartisan global public policy institution. The ND-GAIN annual meeting serves as the premier gathering of domestic and international experts on climate change adaptation and is attended by leading figures from the government, nonprofit and private sectors. Omega Overseas Investments is the meeting’s premier sponsor.

“In the lead-up to the Lima Climate Change Conference next month, and Paris’ Conference of the Parties in 2015, leaders are looking for solutions,” Joyce Coffee, managing director of Notre Dame Global Adaptation Index, said. “ND-GAIN provides data and analysis that enhance the world’s understanding of the importance of adaptation and inform public and private investments in vulnerable communities.”

ND-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. ND-GAIN moved to Notre Dame from Washington, D.C., in April 2013. It is the world’s leading index showing which countries are best prepared to deal with the national security risks, droughts, superstorms, and other natural disasters that climate change can cause. ND-GAIN is part of the University’s Environmental Change Initiative.

The press event livestream from the Wilson Center may be accessed online here.

Contact: Joyce Coffee, managing director, Notre Dame Global Adaptation Index, 312-894-9028,

2014 ND-GAIN results show that Norway is most prepared for climate change



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