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King Center initiative: Adaptation and Resilience to Climate Change in the Global South

Climate adaptation efforts being carried out across the Global South will be collated to help shape future climate protection.

As the international community scrambles to fund and mitigate climate adaptation to droughts, floods, wildfires and storms, do we know if efforts are working? And do we know how efforts are affecting people in developing countries?

A new research initiative, Adaptation and Resilience to Climate Change in the Global South, funded by the King Center on Global Development, investigates how climate adaptation efforts are working in developing countries. Led by Marshall Burke, Stanford’s Doerr School of Sustainability, Stephen Stedman, Stanford’s Freeman Spogli Institute (FSI), and Carlos Gould, School of Public Health, University of California, San Diego, along with Initiative Postdoctoral Fellow Brandon de la Cuesta, the team is compiling a database on programs that aim to reduce climate harms in developing countries, and linking it with data on socio-economic indicators, measures of economic growth and agricultural output, political stability and conflict, and health.

Stedman explains that climate mitigation (the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions) has been the focus of most research studies, whereas climate adaptation (the process of adjusting to climate change) has been “short changed”. While there are many adaptation projects around the world, there is no systematic repository about these projects and their efficacy. “The work that we do here will fill that gap and provide an evidence base for evaluating the success or failure of climate adaptation efforts,” explains Stedman.

Given the growing movement in the international community to provide funding for climate adaptation, it’s critically important to identify where adaptation efforts have been implemented and what government policies have been successful in implementing them. “Not all solutions will be good for all places,” explains de la Cuesta. “One of the things this database will do is catalog what kinds of programs have been effective and in what places. It’ll show us what kinds of programs don't ever seem to work and what kinds of programs seem to work everywhere.” The initiative will provide policymakers with data and a set of tools that can be used to craft future climate adaptation policies and shape funding priorities.  

For more information about the initiative, please contact King Center Executive Director Jessica Leino at