Quality of national adaptation plans and opportunities for improvement

  • Sierra C. Woodruff
  • Patrick Regan
Original Article


National adaptation plans (NAPs) are intended to provide an evidence-based, coordinated, and systematic approach to climate preparedness initiatives. In order to identify how NAPs could be improved, this paper analyzes 38 national adaptation plans using plan quality evaluation methods and explores national characteristics that are associated with high-quality plans. We find that NAPs typically include multiple data sources, explore current impacts and future vulnerabilities, establish goals, and identify potential adaptation strategies. Plans are weaker in the articulation of implementation and monitoring measures, raising concerns about whether plans will translate into action and how success will be measured. In addition, plans generally do not include a broad range of stakeholders in the planning process. The institutional authorship is a strong predictor of plan quality. Plans written by multi-agency committees are significantly higher quality than those written by single agencies, especially on engagement of stakeholders. Based on these results, we recommend that countries form multi-agency teams to lead the adaptation planning process and intentionally address components that are commonly overlooked including implementation guidance and evaluation metrics.


Climate change Adaptation National adaptation plans UNFCCC Plan evaluation 



We would like to recognize Natalie Rivas and Mary Hilton for helping to code plans and collect data.

Supplementary material

11027_2018_9794_MOESM1_ESM.docx (160 kb)
ESM (DOCX 159 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Landscape Architecture and Urban PlanningTexas A&M UniversityCollege StationUSA
  2. 2.Department of Political ScienceUniversity of Notre DameNotre DameUSA

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