Global Adaptation Mapping Initiative

A collaborative network for mapping global evidence on climate change adaptation

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About the Global Adaptation Mapping Initiative

The Global Adaptation Mapping Initiative (GAMI) is a collective global effort to systematically gather and synthesize literature on climate change adaptation. GAMI reviewed thousands of peer-reviewed articles in order to develop the first systematic global assessment of empirical evidence on adaptation progress. This initiative was developed to provide synthesis results to inform the ongoing Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) 6th Assessment Report (AR6), seeking to answer the question: Are we adapting?

GAMI emerged via numerous discussions among several adaptation researchers in the context of the IPCC AR6 process. Many of us felt that robust synthesis of adaptation literature and insights was under-represented in climate assessments. We realized that there was a growing collective desire for more systematic synthesis of adaptation research to bring together diverse insights and to answer the ‘big’ question(s): Are we adapting? To what extent are we adapting? Is adaptation reducing risk?

And so the Global Adaptation Mapping Initiative was born, with the goal of recruiting a global team of adaptation researchers with sufficient passion and curiosity to donate their time for collective adaptation synthesis. GAMI is totally unfunded, and relied on the volunteer time and enthusiasm of hundreds of global researchers. Our results are published in a series of peer-reviewed scientific papers which aimed to inform the IPCC AR6 process. The database on adaptation literature built from this initiative is available for GAMI students and researchers to author further publications.

See our latest publication in Nature Climate Change: "A systematic global stocktake of evidence on human adaptation to climate change".

Coordination Team

These are the people coordinating or leading various components of this initiative.

Advisory Team

These people have contributed substantially to the development of the initiative. The initiative is a mosaic of innovative ideas from these individuals, who continue to review and contribute to the design, development, and implementation of this initiative. Their contributions are significant and varied, from liaison with the IPCC WGII TSU (Maarten Van Aalst) to leadership on the adaptation limits contributions of the work (Adelle Thomas) and expertise in confidence assessment (Chandni Singh). Many of our Advisory Team members are Lead Authors on the IPCC WGII or WGIII reports, and bring a pragmatic focus on how our initiative can inform the needs of global climate assessments and the AR6 assessment process.

The Screening Team are a small group who have been busy screening thousands of documents for eligibility, and whose hard work is why each coder gets to work directly with relevant literature rather than screening hundreds or thousands of irrelevant documents.

Our Coding Team comprises the largest group within GAMI, and is tasked with reading and extracting adaptation insights from approximately 3000 documents using an on-line, customized data extraction platform. Each coder donates 50-100 hours, and codes at least 50 documents. Every document is coded by two independent members of the coding team.

Project Methods

With growing recognition of the inevitability of climate change, adaptation has become a core element of climate policy and research. Yet, our knowledge of how human systems will adapt to climate change remains limited. The physical basis of climate change, though complex, can be evaluated vis a vis greenhouse gas emissions. Evaluating and understanding climate change adaptation is conceptually murkier, and the need for comprehensive syntheses of existing research and tools to evaluate progress on adaptation is increasingly needed. Criticism of existing IPCC assessment reports have called for research synthesis methods that are transparent, clearly defined, and limit reviewer/author bias. Though such debates have been primarily targeted at the physical basis of climate change, the adaptation literature is arguably in greater need of systematic synthesis of existing knowledge if we are to document if adaptation is taking place and respond to areas of highest impact and/or vulnerability, evaluate whether adaptation support is translating into actions, facilitate comparison of adaptations across regions and sectors, ensure resources are being appropriately invested, and inform governance systems on the current status and gaps in adaptation action. Systematic review approaches provide a conceptually appropriate and practical opportunity for increasing methodological transparency and rigor in synthesizing and tracking adaptation research.

The Paris Agreement and Katowice Climate Package articulated a clear mandate to document and assess adaptation progress towards the Global Goal on Adaptation. This includes regularly scheduled stocktaking exercises to summarize and synthesise progress on adaptation. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Assessment Reports provide an important forum for synthesizing research and evidence to inform the adaptation stocktake. Yet to-date there has been negligible/little robust, systematic synthesis of progress on adaptation or adaptation-relevant responses across the globe. The purpose of this review was thus to systematically map and review human adaptation responses to climate-related changes that have been documented globally since 2013 in the scientific literature.

The broad question that underpinned this review was: Are we adapting to climate change? More specifically, we ask ‘what is the evidence relating to human adaptation-relevant responses that can (or are) directly reducing risk, exposure, and/or vulnerability to climate change?’ We reviewed scientific literature since 2013 in Scopus and Web of Science Core Collection to identify documents empirically reporting on adaptation-related responses to climate change in human systems. We excluded non-empirical (theoretical & conceptual) literature and autonomous/ evolutionary adaptation in natural systems. We then identified a subset of these documents that report on observed responses that can directly reduce risk/exposure/vulnerability (excluding planning, policies, vulnerability assessment, adaptation strategies). This subset comprised of our included documents for coding across a set of questions focused on: Who is responding? What responses are documented? What is the extent of the adaptation-related response? Are adaptation-related responses reported to reduce risk, exposure and/or vulnerability? We supplemented this systematic mapping with an expert elicitation exercise, undertaken to synthesize insights from included/coded literature for global regions and sectors, with associated synthesis statements and confidence assessments. The primary output is a series of scientific publications summarizing trends in adaptation based on our review questions, with key insights and confidence levels.

View our methodological protocols here:

1. Protocol 1: The Global Adaptation Mapping Initiative (GAMI): Part 1 - Introduction and overview of methods (Nature Protocol Exchange)
2. Protocol 2: The Global Adaptation Mapping Initiative (GAMI): Part 2 – Screening protocol. Nature Protocol Exchange
3. Protocol 3: The Global Adaptation Mapping Initiative (GAMI): Part 3 - Coding protocol. Nature Protocol Exchange


Contact us to learn more

Project lead

Prof. Lea Berrang Ford
Priestley Chair in Climate and Health
Leeds University