Vulnerability & Adaptation Database

Welcome to WRI’s adaptation to climate change database. This tool brings together 135 examples of adaptation projects, policies, and other initiatives from the developing world. The cases included here form the basis for our report Weathering the Storm: Framing for Adaptation and Development. This data is also available in Excel spreadsheet format, and a list of case abstracts is available in MS Word.

To use our database, you may sort cases by region, country, scale, sector, settlement type, impacts, objective, ‘targetedness’, or strategies employed. To do so, follow the links in the guide to tags below. The guide contains a description of each field and the tags it contains, and allows you to view cases within each tag. Alternatively, you may search for a specific term by using the search function.

Once you are viewing a case, you may also click on the tag links below the entry to view other cases in the same categories.

Related Links


We invite you to share your ideas and suggestions in our online forum. The forum is a space for dialogue on the topic of adaptation to climate change.

This database is a beta version, and all feedback on both the user-friendliness of the database and the accuracy of its contents are very welcome.

Guide to Tags

The following guide to our tag terms will help you understand our categorization system. You can also follow the tag links to view the cases in each category.


Regions represented in our data set are:

  • North Africa & the Middle East: Algeria, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Egypt, Georgia, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia;
  • Sub-Saharan Africa: Angola, Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Cote D’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gabon, Ghana, Guinea, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Republic of Congo, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Africa, Sudan, Swaziland, Tanzania, The Gambia, Togo, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe;
  • South & Central Asia: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan;
  • East & Southeast Asia: Brunei, Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Mongolia, Myanmar, North, Korea, Philippines, South Korea, Thailand, Vietnam;
  • Latin America: Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Ecuador, El Salvador, French Guiana, Guatemala, Guyana, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname, Uruguay, Venezuela;
  • Small Island Developing States: Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Bahrain, Barbados, Belize, Cape Verde, Comoros, Cuba, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Grenada, Guinea-Bassau, Haiti, Jamaica, Kiribati, Maldives, Marshall Islands, Mauritius, Naura, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Samoa, São Tomé and Principe, Seychelles, Singapore, Solomon Islands, Timor-Lesté, Tonga, Trinidad & Tobago, Tuvalu, Vanuatu.


Afghanistan; Argentina; Bangladesh; Bhutan; Bolivia; Brazil; Cameroon; China; Colombia; Costa Rica; Cuba; Dominica; Ecuador; El Salvador; Ethiopia; Fiji; Ghana; Guatemala; Guyana; Haiti; India; Indonesia; Kenya; Laos; Madagascar; Malawi; Mali; Mauritius; Mexico; Mongolia; Mozambique; Nepal; Nicaragua; Niger; Nigeria; Peru; Philippines; Samoa; Senegal; South Africa; Sri Lanka; St. Lucia; St. Vincent & The Grenadines; Sudan; Suriname; Tajikistan; Tanzania; Thailand; Trinidad & Tobago; Tunisia; Tuvalu; Uganda; Vietnam; Yemen; Zimbabwe


  • Community projects are those that are being conducted at the level of small communities and villages. This designation also includes projects that involve several replications of a single projects in many communities, even if these communities are in different regions or countries.
  • Subnational projects are those that are conducted in a portion of a country. This can be a state, a region, a city, or a watershed.
  • National projects are those that are conducted throughout a whole country.
  • Multinational activities are those conducted at the country level in several countries, and may involve cooperation between countries.

Settlement Type

Settlement type can be Rural, Urban, or both Rural and Urban.


Cases included in the database target various potential climate impacts:


Based on our review of the 135 cases contained in this database, we identified three “models” of how adaptation and development objectives coincide:

  • “Serendipitous” Adaptation refers to activities undertaken to achieve development objectives that incidentally achieve adaptation objectives. The adaptation components of a given activity may even be noticed or emphasized only after the fact.
  • Climate-Proofing of Ongoing Development Efforts refers to activities added to an ongoing development initiative to ensure its success under a changing climate. Adaptation thus serves as means to achieve development ends.

  • Discrete Adaptation refers to activities undertaken specifically to achieve climate adaptation objectives. Development activities may be used as means to achieve adaptation ends.


The cases contained in this database also inspired us to create a continuum of adaptation approaches, ranging from activities where emphasis on climate change, to the extent it occurs, is synonymous with broader development goals to activities are specifically geared to countering negative effects of a changing climate. The four zones along this continuum are:

  1. Addressing the Drivers of Vulnerability: At the development end of the spectrum, activities reduce poverty and address other fundamental shortages of capability that make people vulnerable to harm. Very little attention to specific climate change impacts is paid during these interventions, although they help to buffer households and communities against climate trends or shocks.
  2. Building Response Capacity: Adaptation activities focus on building robust systems for problem solving. These capacity-building efforts lay the foundation for more targeted actions, and overlap substantially with many institution-building and technological approaches familiar to the development community.
  3. Managing Climate Risk: Climate information is incorporated into decisions to reduce negative effects on resources and livelihoods, accommodating the fact that often the effects of climate change are not easily distinguished from the effects of hazards within the historic range of climate variability.
  4. Confronting Climate Change: Actions focus almost exclusively on addressing impacts associated with climate change, typically targeting climate risks that are clearly outside historic climate variability, and with little bearing on risks that stem from anything other than anthropogenic climate change.

Adaptation Strategies Employed

The 135 cases in this database rely on a variety of strategies to address vulnerability and the impacts of climate change. Many cases use more than one strategy.

  • Changing Natural Resource Management Practices: Emphasizes new or different natural resource management practices (e.g., for managing water, land, protected areas, fisheries) as adaptation strategies.
  • Building Institutions: Creates new or strengthens existing institutions (e.g., establishing committees, identifying mechanisms for sharing information across institutional boundaries, training staff responsible for policy development).
  • Launching Planning Processes: Sets in motion a specific process for adaptation planning (e.g., developing a disaster preparedness plan, convening stakeholders around vulnerability assessment findings).
  • Raising Awareness: Raises stakeholder awareness of climate change, specific climate impacts, adaptation strategies, or the environment in general.
  • Promoting Technology Change: Promotes implementation or development of a technology new to the location (e.g., irrigation technology, communications technology).
  • Establishing Monitoring/Early Warning Systems: Emphasizes the importance of creating, implementing, and/or maintaining monitoring and/or early warning systems.
  • Changing Agricultural Practices: Focuses on new or different agricultural practices as adaptation strategies.
  • Empowering People: Emphasizes literacy, gender empowerment, or the creation of income generation opportunities as a basis for adaptation.
  • Promoting Policy Change: Promotes establishing a new policy or adjusting an existing policy.
  • Improving Infrastructure: Focuses on creating or improving built infrastructure (e.g., roads, sea walls, irrigation systems).
  • Providing Insurance Mechanisms: Creates, modifies, or plans an insurance scheme.
  • Other Strategies: Consists of three instances of relief work and one focused on eradication of climate-related diseases.