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Work in progress
The following are items of active research, including known concerns that we are working to improve and new capabilities that are under development. Future revisions of ND-GAIN will feature some of the items below. Have a suggestion? Please contact us.
ND-GAIN uses reference points for each indicator, and with the 2014 release, these define targets of vulnerability (indicators scored 0) and the highest readiness (indicators scored 1). More information about this approach can be found in the technical document.
Using reference points to scale indicator data makes possible the measure of a country's adaptation gap, i.e. how far the distance each country is from the target. We are now performing gap analysis to provide information on how to reduce sensitivity or to improve adaptive capacity and readiness worldwide.
Adaptive capacity as adaptation solutions:
Measures of adaptive capacity in ND-GAIN reflect technologies, infrastructure, and other abilities to reduce vulnerability. In some cases, adaptive capacity is the method a country would use to adapt, such as increased public health to combat climate-related diseases. Other capacities could be maladaptive and unsustainable (e.g., dam construction and chemical-intensive agriculture). While these measures can still be proxies for capacities that could be converted to other methods, we seek to move adaptive capacity measures toward sustainable adaptation solutions.
Regular ND-GAIN updates:
We update the Index bi-annually. The November update provides a comprehensive update of most indicators, when we utilize automated and manual work to import data from the sources. Other updates are limited to World Bank indicators, when we utilize World Bank's Application Programmable Interface (API) do download most WB indicators. This will ensure our users have the most up-to-date Index.
The power of ND-GAIN is its global scope, but many adaptation actions, and that investment that enables them, is local. For several regions around the world, ND-GAIN is developing a more granular index to augment our global rankings. Urban areas are a focus of this work.
Improvements to readiness:
Our current measure of readiness does not include measures of institutional and governmental capacity, including expenditures not derived from foreign aid that can be used to pursue adaptation in the public interest. These and similar readiness indicators are under active research. We also are developing methods of validating readiness to better specify this important concept. Finally, we are working on ways to make readiness more specific to climate change adaptation. At present, readiness captures generalized preparedness to take in investment; these investments could apply to adaptation but also to other aspects of economic development.
Indicator - innovation:
We currently list per capita patent applications as an indicator of technology innovation, but this indicator is biased toward developed countries and many important adaptation innovations occur outside the patent process, particularly in developing countries. We are evaluating alternate indicators that measure innovation or science and technology capability.
Indicator - food demand:
We current list population size as an indicator of food demand, but this indicator does not include diet. The amount of meat consumption within a country has a big impact on food demand, but this is not accounted for in our current measure. In the coming years, diet will become even more important in food demand. We are developing methods for compiling diet information to include it with population.
Missing indicator data:
In an effort to improve ND-GAIN and provide our audience with quality data, we will deal with missing indicators through updating our data sources: as more reliable data sources become available, we will update the indicator source to reflect such.
ND-GAIN and GDP per capita:
The ND-GAIN score is highly correlated to a country's economic development measured by GDP per capita. However, not all factors that contribute to climate vulnerability or readiness to adapt are driven by the economic development. ND-GAIN endeavors to find out a more complete picture that describes the relationship between the Index and economic development. We are studying the relationship of ND-GAIN, GDP and residual factors affecting adaptation.
We currently have the capability of computing customized indices, carry out "what if" analysis and other types of customized outputs. These capabilities are available for our partners. As we learn more about the needs of the community through our partnerships, we will make some of these capabilities available to the general public.
ND-GAIN is composed of sectors (vulnerability) and components (readiness) that capture risks directly affecting human lives and livelihoods, but these sectors do not interact or affect one another. Simple indexes are easy to understand, but we are working on combination or "sub"indices that allow for interacting sectors around important climate change issues. For example, we are currently working to develop subindices for climate-related disasters and for food security.
Web site improvements:
Besides the provision of line and spider charts, the website will provide other types of visualization. The site will also provide an Application Programmable Interface so data can be provided in machine friendly formats so developers can utilize the data for visualizations and the development of applications.