Compendium of Adaptation Decision Tools

Submitted by Ben Smith | published 19th Jul 2011 | last updated 17th Mar 2020

This page lists a selection of tools documented in earlier projects and meetings, which are highly related to the concepts of climate change adaptation.

Expert meetings on Tools

The Institute for Development Studies (IDS), together with the World Bank and the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) has convened a series of meetings "to assess progress and fill crucial gaps around adaptation tools for development".

On 11-12 April 2007, in Geneva 40 participants met for a two day workshop to discuss and share adaptation tools for international development entitled: Sharing Climate Adaptation Tools: Improving decision-making for development.

The objective of the meeting was to take stock of the tools and methods available to improve decision-making with regards to climate variability and change. The workshop coupled hands-on demonstrations of tools along with informal presentations. A summary report was produced, which organized the tools according to: the intended audience, level of screening provided, spatial scale, training time, application time, main data type and whether economic analysis was included. These categories, which are summarized in detail in the meeting report, include:

We (weADAPT) presented the platform, noting features such as open source/access, the use of existing climate information, pulling in climate envelopes, and developing the platform from prototypes.

On 28-29 April, 2008 in Paris a second workshop was convened hich built on findings of an initial workshop in Geneva in 2007 on Sharing Climate Adaptation Tools. The objectives of the workshop were to

  • Compare, contrast and improve technical aspects of tools
  • Improve collaboration and the ability of tools to match user needs
  • Take stock and improve understanding of the demand for adaptation tools

A summary of these meetings was subsequently presented at a side event at the recent UN Climate Change negotiations in Bonn, chaired by Thomas Tanner from IDS. The side event aimed to showcase tools available, and encourage user-developer dialogues.


The Compendium of Adaptation Models for Climate Change: First Edition

This document is a compilation of 35 selected adaptation models for climate change. The Compendium is a contribution to the Nairobi Work Programme.

Model Inclusion and Categorization

In order to be included in the compendium, a model had to adhere to the following criteria:

  • It is applied to humans adapting to clinate change
  • It incorporated adaptation, even in a basic way
  • It is based on climate variability/change
  • Studies using the model can be replicated
  • Output could be applied to policy

For a model to meet the Incorporated Adaptation requirement in the Compendium, it had to fit within one or more of the following categories:

  • Simulates agent adaptation
  • Policy/Decision Variable
  • Statistical Downscaling
  • Estimate cost water man
  • Adaptation Assessment
  • Assess/Evaluate adaptation options
  • Emissions targets
  • Adaptation module
  • Links several IAMs
  • Cost effective adaptations
  • Induced/Evaluates adaptations
  • Assess strenghs of adaptation

Models in the compendium were classified based on their treatment of adaptation into two categories:

  • Adaptation Centered Models (ACMs) - explore a variety of adaptation options and allow for these options to be evaluated/manipulated, and according to the authors, represent a "more promising direction for future development".
  • Impact Centered Models (ICMs) - measure the impacts of climate change and some gross measurements of adaptation. However, adaptation in these models is assumed to be a fixed parameter of measureable quantities, rather than a dynamic set of options.

Further classification and presentation of the model descriptions (which the author notes as having been "extracted from peer review literature, model authors and corresponding websites" was based on model typology which categorizes models based on:

  • sectors (Agricultural (36%), Coastal (7%), Economic (43%), Forestry (0%), Human Health (0%), Hydrological (0%), Multi-sectoral), Economic (43%), Social (14%) and the
  • engines or parameters they employ (Agent Based (5%), Behavioural (6%), Cost Benefit Analysis (5%), Evaluation (10%),Integrated Assessment Models (25%), Optimization (6%), Qualitative (7%), Quantitative (25%) or Simulation (11%)). Parentheses next to each of the above indicate the percentage of models in the compendium which fit these criteria.

List of models included in the compendium:

Availability - PDF copies of the compendium are available upon request from thea dickinson, and print copies from Don MacIver, Director - Adaptation and Impacts Research Division - Environment Canada.


Handbook of Current and Next Generation Vulnerability and Adaptation Assessment Tools

The handbook/guide provides an assessment and critique of frequently used vulnerability and adaptation assessment (VA) tools so that users "are better informed and can take a more conscious decision in selecting appropriate tools for their use". It begins by outlining the charateristics that lend credibility, accuracy and stakeholder acceptance of a tool and use these in their assessment and description in subsequent chapters: credible, transparent, acceptable to stakeholders, relevant, accurate, measurable, reproducible analysis, comparable, cost-effective, flexible enough to adapt, able to identify trends, and readily understood.

Subsequent chapters provide an overview and assessment of strengths and weakness of available tools under three categories:

  1. Impact and vulnerability tools by sector (Agriculture, Water Resources, Coastal Resources, Human Health, Forestry and Natural Ecosystems, Energy and Environment and Infrastructure and Industry)
  1. Adaptation policy assessment tools - outlines platforms (Adaptation Policy Framework, NAPA), Decision Tools (Policy Exercises, Benefit Cost-Analysis, Cost-Effectiveness, MCA, Adaptation Decision Matrix (ADM)), and Stakeholder Approaches (networks, vulnerability indices, agent-based social simulations, Livelihood Sensitivity Matrix),(historical/geographical analogs,and Uncertainty and Risk Analysis.
  2. Integrated vulnerability and assessment tools - PRIMES (Energy System Model), [Prospective Outlook on Long-term Energy Systems (Poles)], Externalities of Energy (Extreme),Integrated Assessment of Climate Protection Strategies), RICE and DICE, IGSM (The MIT Integrated Global System Model), .edu/group/MERGE/ MERGE, and MAGICC/SCENGEN (Model for the Assessment of Greenhouse-gas Induced Climate Change/ Regional Climate SCENario GENerator)

The final chapter of the manual outlines suggested components of an integrated vulnerability index.

Availability - Handbook of Current and Next Generation Vulnerability and Adaptation Assessment Tools, Amit Garg et al., Paper 8, BASIC Project, September 2007


Integrated vulnerability and assessment tools - 

PRIMES (Energy System Model), [

Prospective Outlook on Long-term Energy Systems (Poles)], 

Externalities of Energy (Extreme),

Integrated Assessment of Climate Protection Strategies)


IGSM (The MIT Integrated Global System Model), 

edu/group/MERGE/ MERGE

MAGICC/SCENGEN (Model for the Assessment of Greenhouse-gas Induced Climate Change/ Regional Climate SCENario GENerator)