The University of Notre Dame recently released the 2014 installment of the Notre Dame Global Adaptation Index (ND-GAIN.) ND-GAIN shows “which countries are best prepared to deal with the national security risks, droughts, superstorms and other natural disasters that climate change can cause.” More than just a simple ranking list, the index also tracks the progress of countries’ preparedness over the last 18 years, and allows users to run ‘what if’ analyses for various situations. Hit the jump to see which countries came out on top, who stands to lose out — and why.
ND-GAIN is a nonprofit organization aiming to build countries’ resilience to climate change on the path to sustainable development. The index was founded in 2010 and ranks more than 175 countries “based on their vulnerability to climate change and their readiness to adapt.” In 2014, Norway topped the list, despite its vulnerability due to its extensive coastline, and the Scandinavian nation is assessed to have been the most prepared country for the last 20 years. Rounding out the top five were New Zealand, Sweden, Finland and Denmark. The five least prepared countries were all in sub-Saharan Africa, with landlocked Chad holding last place on the list.
The Notre Dame News noted that the highest ranked countries share certain characteristics. While they are not immune to the threats of climate change, “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.” You’ll also notice on the map that the most vulnerable countries are centered around the equator, while those closer to the poles fare better. So we find ourselves in familiar territory: those countries with the financial resources and stable governance practices in place to adapt to climate change will cope, while countries that are poor financially and in terms of technological and governance infrastructure will suffer.
But ND-GAIN’s intention is not to simply show that it will be business as usual in the face of climate change. Their mission is “to enhance the world’s understanding of the urgency for adaptation to climate change and other global forces through private and public investments for vulnerable communities.” The index is intended as a useful tool for governments, nonprofits and companies to make investment and policy decisions that support developing countries to adapt to a changing climate, and for those countries that are already well prepared to take advantage of room for improvement.